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BroadBand the blog: Sarah Sisson Andrews

I launched a special blog series to honor and champion other women in business. This is a companion service to a new podcast that launched on October 1, 2020.

My intention is to share insights of lessons learned by businesswomen and also elevate their services to the greater community. The goal is to inform and inspire other women with ideas in order to empower them to grow their own business ventures.

Sarah Sisson Andrews is co-founder and co-owner of HULLHOUSE Productions. It is a full service video production company specializing in story driven content. Every entrepreneur, business, brand, artist, event, property and product has a story to tell. They can help you identify your story and get it in front of your customers (or potential customers) through the use of high quality, creative video content. To help maximize your content, they can also manage the distribution of the video across the web and beyond.

1.     How many years have you been doing video?

I started working in television production twenty-one years ago, on the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards at the Metropolitan Opera in NYC.

2.     Why is this work important to you?

We all watch video content for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes it’s to educate ourselves on a topic we don’t know enough about, sometimes it’s a documentary that takes us out of our own lives and into someone else’s, leaving us with a better understanding of the world we live in. Sometimes we just need a laugh and to be entertained. Storytelling through video is a necessary art form. It’s a way of connecting humanity. Being even just a small part of that is why this work is important to me.

3.     If you could go back to your younger self, what kind of advice would you give yourself about your pursuit to be a producer?

Your career will not define you. It’s not who you are, it’s what you do…and what you do may change throughout your life.

4.     Who influenced you – professionally?

In the very beginning, when I was in college, I aspired to be a stage manager on Broadway. So, I made it a mission to immerse myself in the NYC theatrical tech world as much as possible. I spent time with stage hands and set designers. I interned for the Met Opera and Lincoln Center. I  shadowed the stage manager for Les Misérables. She advised me to think outside of the theatre box because there wasn’t much money in it. Soon after that I got my first television PA gig and stayed on that track. I have had countless professional influences since then. One of the beauties of being a freelancer, especially during my time in New York, is that every few months or so, you are given the opportunity to start on a completely different production with a completely new crew.  I had the great fortune of working with some of the most talented people in the industry during that time, all of whom influenced me personally and professionally. 

5.     What do you like to do for fun?

I’d say the perfect day would start with a long run on the East Bay bike path, followed by some outdoor time with my family and then a night of wining and dining with my husband. I also love to travel and cook!

6.     What advice would you share with someone who is thinking about, or just beginning, a career in video/production?

I’d say, if you want to be a producer, start as an intern and work your way up. Listen, observe, do the heavy lifting, work hard, put in the hours and most importantly, learn about all aspects of production. Understand camera gear and lighting, know how to pick up a camera and shoot if you need to, learn the basics of editing, have a well rounded knowledge of what everyone’s job on set is. Be kind and respectful, always. Reputation is absolutely everything in this business.

7.     What surprised you the most as a professional?

It can be a lot of fun, but also exhausting. The hours can be brutal and there are times you live out of a suitcase and eat craft service for dinner. As a producer, the work doesn’t end when you call wrap for the day. It is often followed by several hours of work afterwards. Now, as a mother of two and coming off of a four year break from the business, I can say it is not easy finding a balance between work and family life.

8.   Any suggestions on resources: books, podcasts, online learning, blogs + tools?

Coming up in NY in the early 2000’s, my resources were my colleagues. I remember getting my first directing job. I had never directed before, but the showrunner took a chance on me. I immediately called my friend who had years of directing experience, took him out to dinner and asked him to tell me everything he knew about directing. Those types of resources are invaluable. I belong to a group on Facebook called Women Working in Reality TV that I also find helpful. I’m sure there are a million podcasts and blogs out there for an aspiring producer, but I’m old school. 

9.  Can you share a favorite quote?

You cannot serve from an empty vessel. –  Eleanor Brownn. I came across it a few years ago and it stuck with me. While professionally I am a television producer, the last four years my biggest job has been a stay at home mom to two young boys. My husband travels a lot for work so I am often solo parenting. I have learned that I cannot serve from an empty vessel. We all need fulfilment and self care. I have learned to make self care a priority in my life, even if that means getting up at 5am to go for a run. That has to come first. If I am happy and healthy, I’m a better mom. 

Learn more about Sarah here:

  • Instagram: @hullhouseproductions

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