We had the good fortune of connecting with Hannah Byers-Brown and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hannah, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Prior to starting my own business, I was working on major international advertising campaigns for brands like Nike and Virgin Atlantic which was absolutely incredible. However, I always found myself feeling that there was a part of me that wasn’t quite fulfilled. I took a break from advertising to attend the UCLA Film & TV Producers MFA program and immerse myself in the entertainment industry. After I graduated from the program I couldn’t choose between either industry so I started HBB Productions which focuses on advertising and entertainment production. This way I get the best of both the industries that I love and I’m able to create stories for brands as well as people.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
What I think really sets HBB Productions apart from other production companies is not only that we span two industries but that we work with the biggest brands in the world and foster new fresh talent simultaneously. For example I just wrapped a project for a very well-known home goods store and we optioned a tv pilot with a very cool up and coming writer in the same week. I am so excited to have so many irons in the fire right now. In the entertainment side of the business we focus on horror / genre work and I really love collaborating with other people in that space. Horror always stays fresh and exciting where other genres don’t tend to in the same way. My biggest collaborator is my writing partner Ryan Hines, special extra shout out to him and his immense talent! Getting to this point was definitely not easy. For a very long time I didn’t quite know what I was going to do with my life. My first degree is in photography but I realised about half way through that I didn’t actually want to be a photographer. When I graduated I sort of ‘fell’ into advertising. I didn’t even know what a producer did then! After a few less than successful jobs I landed a role as a receptionist for an advertising production company. I was 21 and living in London without any idea what I was doing. It was there that I learned the skill and craft that goes into every advert. People aren’t always very kind to advertising but I am here to tell you that some of the most talented people I’ve ever worked with work in that field. The budgets are big but so is the level of pressure, the turn around times are nuts and the crews are so much smaller than in film and TV. I love the creativity and drive that people that work in advertising have and it’s why I always want to keep my finger in that pie. From the point that I got my first advertising job to where I am now fees like a bit of whirlwind but it’s been 10 years! While working as receptionist I set my sights on becoming a producer, honestly it looked like the best job around to me. As a producer you run the show and you have full control, you understand what goes into a project creatively and you hire the best people for the job. I wouldn’t say I was a control freak, but I definitely like to be in charge! So I worked my way up into the production department and finally to a producer at the company. I was producing campaigns for big British brands like Barbour, John Lewis and even some for international heavy weights like Disney. I ended up moving from there to a different company where I produced hundreds of campaigns for Nike, Virgin Atlantic, Dyson and other major labels. The projects I worked on won awards, were broadcast all over the world and printed everywhere. I oversaw teams of incredible artists and couldn’t walk down a street in London without seeing a billboard with my work on it. There is something very special about seeing something you orchestrated printed on a 96 sheet billboard. That was a real peak in my career but I knew I still wanted more so that’s when I headed off for LA to study at UCLA. I landed a job at Paramount TV in my first year working on shows like The Haunting of Hill House, Jack Ryan and 13 Reasons Why. I spent 2 years learning and developing my skills, immersing myself in this new industry and building up to what would become my own company. In addition to the work I’ve done for major labels and networks, it was always important to me to stay involved in the art and independent world. I produced music videos for the incredible artist Saro, as well as award-winning short films such as Casanova (written and starring Mackenzie Watson) and Down to Nothing (starring Sherly Lee of Twin Peaks). Art is always going to be the biggest driving factor in my life and no matter what I work on I will see the creativity in it. HBB Productions was started in 2019 and I could not be prouder of where we are now. We have countless adverts under our belt for huge international brands as well as festival-winning films and projects in development with acclaimed writers. I am so excited to see what the future holds for this little Trans Atlantic production company!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I was a tourist to LA for a long time before I was able to move there so my ideas of fun things to do are an odd mix of tourist attractions and local delights so here goes: Eat: – The Library Ale House in Santa Monica – Osteria La Buca on Melrose (you haven’t lived until you’ve had their brussel sprouts) – Le Petit Greek in Larchmont Drink: – The Pikey on Sunset – Thirsty Crow in Silverlake – The Edmon in Melrose Things to do: – The funicular in Downtown (made my brothers go on it twice in one day when they visited) – The bit of beach that you can get to by walk straight ahead from the Library Ale House is genuinely the best bit of beach in LA, I can’t explain why but I love it. – The Death Museum & The Mystic Museum make my gothic soul very happy – The Last Bookstore in Downtown – Leave LA – California has the most beautiful nature and road trips are my favourite activity
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’m going super cliché here and I’m going to say my dad! He is an artist, animator and film fanatic. He was an animator for Who Framed Roger Rabbit? as well as some other classic films. When I was a teenager he made a list of all the films I had to see before I grew up and we would watch them all. Even now when I visit my parents we will watch a film every day together. My love of cinema and of art came from my dad, he inspired me to be whoever I wanted to be and not to pick a specific path for my life just because other people expected me to. I was able to decide to bridge two industries with my company because of the inspiration he always gave me.