By Daryl Paranada
Tucked in a corner on the edge of Los Angeles’s Arts District lies the production company Hyperion LA. Inside its two-story office, large fashion photos adorn the walls, a big projection screen plays a commercial, and the word “hype” flashes in neon close to the loft-style space where its four employees buzz about. All but one is an Emersonian.
The man at the center of this universe is alumnus Andrew Bear ’12.
“I’ve always wanted to be my own boss,” said Bear, who grew up in Rye Beach, New Hampshire, where he was heavily involved in the community — producing concerts, fundraising, and singing karaoke for fun.
The fact that Bear created a company that provides support to cutting-edge creatives in the fashion, advertising, and entertainment industries is perhaps not a surprise. “Hype” is an appropriate word to describe what Bear and his company do.
“It’s good. It’s intense,” said Evie Hansford ’18, a production and creative coordinator at Hyperion LA. Hansford landed her gig after seeing a posting by Bear on the Emerson Mafia Facebook page. At the time, she was applying to 20 jobs a day. “Andrew has a really strong work ethic, which is a motivating force. He’s taught me so much. The standards are pretty high for the whole team because shoots come up so quickly.”
For instance, Hyperion produced a multimillion-dollar ad with a superstar celebrity on a Sunday after receiving confirmation two days before (most of his jobs are constricted to a non-disclosure agreement).
Bear’s entrepreneurial spirit burgeoned while at Emerson. He applied to the College because he wanted a connection to LA (one provided by the Emerson LA internship program) and thought it fit his desires (he describes himself as both business-minded and creative).
“Emerson is a very industry-focused college where entrepreneurs and people who are pretty self-driven go,” he said.
Naturally, while at Emerson, Bear was involved in musicals and TV shows. He attended the Kasteel Well program in the Netherlands, which he describes as one of the best times of his life, and designed his own major: Entertainment Business, with a minor in Finance and another minor in Pop Vocals through Berklee College of Music. The acting, marketing, and writing classes all fulfilled his growing ambitions. After just three years, his last semester brought him to Emerson LA.
“I was ready for the warm weather,” said Bear. “I always loved the entertainment industry and thought it was really vibrant and open out in LA.”
While at Emerson LA, Bear interned at an agency and took The Business of Acting with faculty member Brad Lemack ’77.
Near the end of the semester, the class produces an acting showcase and duties are assigned to various students. Bear was in charge of catering and given a budget, but he got nearly all the food (pizzas, chicken wings, quesadillas, hummus) for free by driving around and asking companies for donations.
“I really liked having the opportunity to branch out and meet new people,” said Bear. “Emerson provided a safety net and I got to experience LA how I wanted to.”
He still does. Hyperion shoots in various locations around LA and the world. Having the opportunity to shoot at the house where Frank Sinatra lived, or the pool house where Marilyn Monroe hung out, is one of the coolest parts of Jeremy Thomas’s job.
“From day one, Andrew really threw me in there,” said Thomas, an executive producer at Hyperion with a background in television.
Bear gained experience working long days while cutting his teeth at Prada in its advertising department. He sometimes worked 18-hour days. For a period, he dabbled in acting, but quickly learned he was not the type who could wait around for auditions.
“I really like to be busy. I really like to be productive and creative,” he said. “It’s hard when you’re just waiting for the phone to ring.”
While working at American Apparel, he answered a Craigslist ad for an office assistant job at a fashion photography company. It was a great fit.
“I learned to coordinate and I applied my skills from Prada, from Emerson, the writing, email, all of it,” said Bear. “I realized I’m really good at fashion production and fashion photography; I had an eye for the fashion world.”
After three years, he was producing shoots and started to expand, working with photographers outside of the company. Eventually, he started his own company, which produced shoots for Tommy Hilfiger and L’Oréal, among other brands. He sold his company after a few years because he wanted to start “something fresh, something new, something amazing.”
Enter: Hyperion. Hansford was his first hire. They started out working at Bear’s dining room table. As the client list grew — Asos, Estée Lauder, Glamour Germany, Vogue Russia — so did the team. During the Fall 2019 semester, Bear hired an intern from Emerson: Samantha Branch ’19.
“I did some scouting, got to be on a set for a Michelle Pfeiffer shoot, a little bit of everything,” said Branch, who had been looking for a photography editorial internship during her semester at Emerson LA. “I felt like I was making a difference. I was doing meaningful work that was helping the company and getting opportunities that friends at bigger companies weren’t.”
During winter break, Branch went home to the East Coast and drafted a proposal of what a full-time job at Hyperion would look like. Bear offered her a position over the phone. For the Spring 2020 semester, he hired another Emerson intern.
“This was kind of the perfect place I wanted to be at because I knew it was a smaller production company,” said Brunei Deneumostier Arce ’20, who found Hyperion on Instagram while looking at various production companies in LA. “I love everyone’s energy. Andrew is so much fun and there’s a vibe since we’re all mostly Emerson people.”
Unfortunately, Deneumostier Arce’s internship experience was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While at Hyperion, she was able to go on shoots, take photographs, and observe how Hansford and Branch plan campaigns. In the future, Bear hopes to hire more Emerson interns.
“I just trust Emerson, I do,” said Bear. “There’s a lot of acting. There’s comedy. It’s creative. There’s an unspoken bond. Emersonians are hard workers and passionate. That’s what I’ve seen.”
Like so many small businesses, Hyperion has been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis. After an initial pause, Hyperion is returning to business with the help of the Paycheck Protection Program and other federal programs.
“We are optimistic. With the further drive toward online content, retailers are going to need high-quality photography and video of their product,” said Bear, “and Hyperion will be there to support. The challenge today is providing that content in a way that is safe for employees and clients.”
With the bit of free time he has, Bear likes to sing karaoke. His go-to song is “Crazy for You” by Madonna.
“I feel very grateful,” said Bear. “I’m doing exactly what I want to do.”