We had the good fortune of connecting with Anna Boyter, founder of Bear Hands Media and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Anna, why did you pursue a creative career?
It really started kicking in full force as a child when I obsessively wrote scripts for the school plays. When I saw all of the hard the work come to life in 7th grade (Shoutout to my theater teacher Mrs. Clark, the first person to give something I worked on a chance to be showcased) with the actors and staging, with the lights, music and the emotional reactions scenes would cause in an audience, I was hooked. I needed that rush of changing the way people feel. When a viewer of the work you create is inspired in some way or they laugh, if your work makes them cry, or move them into action – that was everything. To see nothing take form into something – and that something makes people feel something – was a kind of magic that makes a creative person feel completely whole, explosive even, and when it’s over, you’re emptier than when you began – so it’s on to the next project, On to chasing that next high. It became my entire motivation and life purpose from that point on. In fact, it became an unhealthy obsession, if I’m honest. I played with many different creative outlets. Anything I could get my hands on be it music, painting, film, anything. It got to the point where it physically pained me not to be creating. The challenge then became finding balance between being an artist and not letting other things in life fall short. Traditional education, friends, sleep, food, building a career that would financially support a future, all of that a distant second to whatever creative project I was working on. As a young artist, it was easy to put everything into the work and the work before anything else. So when you’re late on rent enough times, the question becomes – How do you do what you do and monetize it in a way that is contributing to your community and your life without losing your vision in the process – that’s where, I believe, we lose a lot of our extraordinary young artists early in the game.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
The journey of finding your place in a creative career can only be described as failing your way to success. It is a long, exhausting, heartbreaking and yet still somehow beautiful. Someone once told me, you’re never truly an artist until you’ve destroyed at least the first 100 pieces of your creative work. From the ashes, you arise. It has been at your core, all along, waiting for permission. If destruction is a form of creation (yes, I just threw down a Donnie Darko reference), then, that’s how my film company Bear Hands Media was started. I threw everything away – my career as a videographer, my career as a painter, my pursuit of music. I metaphorically set it all on fire and watched burn. For the first time in my life I just let everything stop and be still. It was in that quiet, I could hear what was calling the loudest, film. I started picking up gigs and work started piling in. Six months in, I had no choice but to begin hiring other artists to help alleviate some of the workload. Before I knew it, Bear Hands Media was born. I took everything I learned over the years – all the blood, sweat and tearful experiences – working in the creative industry – and applied it to a strategic, and frankly unusual, business model. Since I didn’t have any formal education in business, I used the only thing I had, my own intuition. I wanted to build the type of company where someone like me would want to work and thrive. I did a lot of listening. I payed attention to what other industries were doing, what helped companies scale up, what was giving other companies longevity and security through ups and downs in the market. How others were building a viable, sustainable place for artists to have opportunities to create their own success. I sought advice from many different people I respected in my industry and in other industries and started to paint a picture of what I needed. I had to apply all of that to what I already understood about creative minds, how they work and how mental state and balance play a massive roll in the work an artist can create. I needed conditions that fostered the greatest possible plane of creativity, consistently, while implementing a company structure that didn’t stunt our artist’s creative growth. And that’s the problem. Marrying a business model that succeeds financially with the conditions an artist thrives within. So I had to tune everything just right to get that perfect formula. What ultimately I learned, and this is not what many entrepreneurs just starting out are going to want to hear, because it’s not an easy answer – running a creative business is just as fluid as your own creative mind. It’s constantly transforming and evolving as you and your team are growing and you have to be the type of leader that can sense the tides and be brave enough to trust your instinct. Know when and who to reach out to for advice when you get stuck, that’s important too. Work as a together within your core team, your business allies, and your community. If you’re in the creative industry, you’re not starting a company, you’re building a little world in a universe of possibilities. What sets us apart is the service our creative team provides to clients seeking high level film content that means something. We create commercials and films that make viewers laugh, cry, fall in love and move into action. To us, it’s all about the art of making a viewer feel something in a way that connects brands with viewers in their target market. There’s a lot of psychology behind everything we produce, which I believe is different from the approach of many in our industry. That extra step where art and film can further solidify a brand’s relationship with their viewers, not just buy a product or hire a service but to truly know them – we want them to truly connect. That’s when a campaign is successful in our opinion. Any good commercial can inspire a one-time purchase of a product, the real success of a great commercial, is in brand loyalty. The types of clients that seek us out are the types of clients that understand the value of a long term relationships with their client base. We pull off some really crazy ideas that work . We have such a blast with our clients in the process. And we dance. A lot.
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.
First we would play at The Orange Show, that’s a colorful way to start the day. Then, we would make our way over to have a picnic on the lawn at the Menil. Be still in quiet contemplation at The Rothko Chapel. Bike through the awesome trails into The Heights – Dinner at Coltivare with an Ava Crowder (fave cocktail) in their garden – Catch a show at The Heights Theater on 19th. And shut it down with a front porch swing hangout at my place – where we can be found screaming all the wrong lyrics to all of our favorite songs.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
So many people deserve recognition in my story and I’ll get to that. If I can speak first to family members and friends of a creative person for a moment: It’s imperative these young artists (of any age – we all start as young artists no matter what age we make the decision to follow our hearts) have your encouragement and support through their journey of finding themselves and where they fit in the creative world. This can be extremely messy, uncertain and scary at times. Stick with them, stay by them and most importantly help them find the right mentors to help guide them through the process of finding their life balance. Creative brains benefit from being in the company of other creatives. Your compassion and empathy goes a long way to support them in their growth. They’re going to be putting their hearts on the line to reach for something even if they’re not entirely sure what that is, and whatever that comes to be could cause ripple effects through humanity that changes the world. So as someone close to a creative person, you are an imperative part of that beautiful, explosive wreck. It’s a responsibility you should hold dear and be proud to have the opportunity to help cultivate. Major players that shaped my young artist mind in that exact way: My mother’s unwavering emotional strength, My father’s music, Mrs. Clark’s open mind, my mentor Bill Metoyer, Chuck Palahniuk, Charles Bukowski, Mark Ryden, The Jukebox at any dive bar in New Orleans, The limitlessly talented musicians & artists I was lucky to surround myself with throughout those early years – to name a few, Andrew DeLange, Jessica Rice, Claire Richards, JD Stanley and just so I don’t go on for ever I’ll stop at Brian Boyter. I married that last one and he continues to inspire me every day. And of course, my incredible team of filmmakers at Bear Hands Media.
Other: Vimeo – https://vimeo.com/bearhandsmedia
Portrait Photo by Chris Bailey Photography