By Christi Marsico • Staff Writer
Wearing white sneakers with a buzz haircut, Tighe Wachacha enters the Burger King in Waynesville followed by his cardigan-clad cohort Matthew Yates.
Wachacha, 28, is married with one child and Yates, 27, is engaged.
The friendship these two men found in making films has set ablaze their ambitions as they launch their video production company, Twin Paths Productions, LLC.
Yates, who grew up in Kernersville, N.C., always knew he wanted to make films.
After living in Colorado and attending a few schools, Yates moved back to North Carolina determined to go to film school. Specifically looking for a two-year program, he came across Haywood Community College’s Film and Video Production courses online and applied.
Wachacha grew up in Cherokee and began his college pursuits in media arts at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kan. When Wachacha moved back to his home state, he began looking for a film program as well. Upon picking up an application at HCC, Wachacha felt he had found the right place.
Wachacha met Yates the first day of class, and they became fast friends as they both progressed in their film studies.
“We got to do everything from day one like handling the camera,” Wachacha said.
“HCC saved me. It was the best thing that could have happened to me.”
They gained real world experience during the making of biotechnology training films where they were expected to take on the producer roles during the project.
The film series focused on “everything from bio-fuels to genetically modified foods,” according to Yates.
Yates and Wachacha are still in touch with their professors from HCC, referring to them as “more like friends than professors.”
Since graduating HCC in 2007, the film fellows have been working at the Wheels Through Time, a motorcycle museum in Maggie Valley. The duo has produced about 75 percent of the videos on the Wheels Through Time’s Web site.
Wachacha and Yates work 35 to 40 hours a week at the museum on a variety of projects from filming human-interest pieces, technology shows, to traveling for the museum filming various events.
The work has allowed the filmmakers to cut their teeth on multiple tasks while taking away valuable lessons.
“We’ve learned how to adapt ourselves in different situations and think on our feet,” Yates said.
“In school, it was a controlled environment, and at Wheels we push ourselves to see how much we can get out of ourselves with little preparation,” Wachacha added.
Feeling grateful from all they have learned and continue to learn at the museum, the filmmakers are preparing for future endeavors.
Their own biz
The film friends began serious discussions about a production company their second year at HCC.
“The name of our company reflects those paths from the first day we met,” Wachacha said. “We came the long way around on getting on track to what we needed to do.”
Yates describes Wachacha as a “go getter” and more “vocal” than he is, pushing him out of his comfort zones.
“Tighe’s good at everything that I’m not,” Yates said.
Wachacha feels his partner can be summed up on one word — “planner.”
“Matt uses his head more than I do,” Wachacha said.
The Web site for Twin Path Productions is not the only project in the works as the film partners are writing a screenplay, editing a music video for the Asheville band The Davids, and researching a documentary.
“The documentary is our baby,” Wachacha said.
The film will document five Cherokee “beloved women” while exploring the roles of women in Cherokee and European culture.
“It will recognize efforts of a lot of women and what they’ve done for the tribe throughout its history from education to preserving language,” Wachacha said.
Since June, their company has been crafting videos for the Cherokee Preservation Foundation.
“We have been shooting and gathering footage explaining what the Preservation Foundation does for the tribe,” Yates said.
Looking into the future with so much on their plates in the present, the filmmakers have two ultimate goals for their production company: pay their bills and make a feature film. They are also determined that Twin Path Productions will succeed in the film business and remain based in Western North Carolina.
“You don’t have to live in Wilmington or Hollywood to make movies,” Yates said.
“You could put us into any situation, and we’ll make it work,” Wachacha said.
“I am 100 percent confident we could shoot anything anybody asked us to.”
Preserving stories one project at time as well as loving what they do is what has given Twin Path Productions the confidence to strive for more.
“We’ve come this far and at the start it was determination, and now we have the equipment and the skills,” Wachacha said.