Evan Sussman '99 is an Emmy-nominated animator and founder/director of Hero4Hire Creative, LLC. Evan attended our Boston Alumni Dinner this fall and gave us a glimpse of what he's been up to since graduating from USN. We followed up.
Evan, could you please tell us a bit about what you do at Hero4Hire. I’m the founder and creative director of the company. We’re an animation studio that makes animated video content for ad agencies, big companies, small companies, and recently, for a children's music band. We really work for a huge variety of different sized jobs and many interesting clients. So that could mean anything from a short clean and simple motion graphic video to a traditionally hand drawn, with pencil on paper, character animation. Traditional animation is some of the coolest stuff to see come to life.
You are the Co-Creator and Executive Producer of the PBS Kids Go! Web series Fizzy’s Lunchlab. Can you tell us a little about the show and where the idea of it came from? My dad and I had been brainstorming ideas for a healthy animated show. He is an internist that specializes in endocrinology, so health issues are a big part of what he deals with day to day. At the same time, a friend and co-worker Dave Schlafman and I were trying to come up with an animated series to create together. Dave had been working on some characters for a cook book and my dad and I on this nutritional show idea, so we decided to bring the two together. From there we developed and created the cast of characters. And when we were done bringing everything together, we both decided we really believed in the idea. So we produced an episode of it on a shoe string budget and used that episode to pitch the show to PBS. It was a complete gamble, but it really paid off.
Your animated short/PSA won the Grand Prize in Current TV’s 60 Second Save the Earth contest and was featured by Al Gore as part of his TED global warming presentation--does your work always have a purpose or message? Not all of our work can have an important message, but we definitely pick different projects to do each year just because we believe in a cause or want to help draw attention to something. For instance, we created a PSA for the the Geena Davis Foundation that promotes more positive female roles in children’s media. I have two young daughters now, so that was an important one for me. We’ve also worked with a few local organizations as well. And sometimes our commercial work can even have a nice message. Either way, it’s great when you get the opportunity to work on projects like that.
What are you working on now? Anything new in the works? A bunch of things right now. We just finished a cool 3D animation for TripAdvisor and also an animated “movie” called Bear Hunt for a children’s music band. That video and DVD is going to be in Chucky Cheese for the next year I think. It was a fun project because we came up with this style that’s a hybrid of puppetry and animation--so that our animators were controlling the character's movements in real-time. We also recently produced an original short I created for Nickelodeon. It’s about an animated superhero battling animated monsters in the real world. That should be popping up online sometime in the future. To be honest, we’re always working on a bunch of things that are completely different. That’s one thing I really like about my work.
Who were some of your USN teachers who really made an impact on your life post USN? Looking back, are there classes or teachers that you didn’t love at the time but now see as more beneficial than others?
Dr. Bebring, Mrs. Coble, Mr. White, Mr. Neely, Ms. Schmid... There were a bunch of amazing teachers when I was there and I’m sure it’s still the same. I was just talking with some friends about how great the teachers at USN were and how high school was by far more educationally challenging then anything else in our education. Honestly, USN was by far the best part of mine. The teachers we had while I was there were a huge part of that.
Evan Sussman '99 can be reached by email at email@example.com.