Every person has a story to tell, and three Clemson alumni have pulled from very different college experiences and disciplines to aid in their mission to tell the stories that often go unheard.
Davey Schaupp, Hamilton McAfee and Noah Wallace started Matchlight, a video production company based on the belief that good stories change the world.
“We were all drawn to the power of a story,” Wallace said. “We believe that stories are the best way to build human connections.”
The trio’s first story happened spontaneously in the wake of a disaster. They initially went to help with cleanup efforts in Seneca after a tornado came through the area, destroying homes, churches and businesses in April 2020.
When they saw the wreckage and the resiliency of the people who lived in Seneca, they knew they had to help tell the residents’ story. They spoke with a pastor, whose church had been destroyed by the tornado. He stood outside the decimated building and talked to them about choosing to hope in the face of so much sudden destruction and hardship.
Even though the three Clemson students didn’t know it at the time, it was Matchlight’s first project and one of the most impactful stories they have done.
“We had no idea what we were walking into, but we decided to focus on how people could choose hope in the wake of a disaster,” McAfee said. “Things kept falling into place, and we were able to capture the community coming together.”
This passion for storytelling and human connection brought these marketing, communication and psychology alumni together after graduating Clemson to start the company. Each had video production experience, and their spark for storytelling “lit the match for their company,” inspiring the name Matchlight.
“Even the smallest little light, like a match, makes a huge difference in a dark world,” Schaupp said. “A match is a catalyst for a bigger fire, and we want our videos to spark something in people.”
They each brought their skills and Clemson experience to the table to help build Matchlight and its mission.
McAfee began at Clemson as a graphic communication major but soon realized that he wanted to learn more about people and what makes them tick. He then decided to become a psychology major because he increasingly found the study of people fascinating.
McAfee brought his passion for people to his work with Clemson Athletics Media. He also learned about using background music in videos more effectively to portray emotions in a class on the psychology of music. He enjoys capturing an audience by building tension in his work or implying resolution completely through music.
Wallace’s dad captured a great deal of his childhood through a family camcorder, so he grew up around video equipment and film. He was truly hooked on video production after a class in high school, and that passion took him to college. He majored in business to find a way to market his skills and products but minored in film study to keep up with the industry.
During the summer of his sophomore year, Wallace had the opportunity to direct a series of commercials for a life insurance company in Austin, Texas. This experience taught Wallace that he could make a living telling stories through the lens of a camera.
Schaupp did not even want to go to college, so he spent the year after high school backpacking. During his trip, he decided that education was the only thing he could invest in that no one could take away from him and that it was time to go back to school. Since he was a child growing up in East Africa, he has loved learning about people’s differences and the core human experiences that people share despite language and cultural barriers.
Schaupp took that passion with him to Honduras during his time at Clemson as a communication major, where he and McFee filmed coffee farmers to help tell their story. He said his major allowed him to gain insight into a much broader view of the human experience, something that has helped build the Matchlight mission.
Since the company began in 2019, McAfee, Schaupp and Wallace have worked on various projects from their home base in Charleston, South Carolina.
They have completed videos profiling people in the Charleston community, profiling various organizations such as the College of Charleston’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program, Rhapsody Fitness, Medical University of South Carolina, Lowcountry Locals First and more. They believe that they have more stories to tell and are looking forward to working with nonprofits to help them get their message across to the community.
The Department of Communication and Department of Psychology are part of the Clemson University College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences (CBSHS), which was established in July 2016. CBSHS is a 21st-century land-grant college that combines work in seven disciplines – communication; nursing; parks, recreation and tourism management; political science; psychology; public health sciences; and sociology, anthropology and criminal justice – to further its mission of “building people and communities” in South Carolina and beyond.
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