Bryant Hyun: Cinematic Arts Renaissance Man

This week, we're talking with junior Production BFA Bryant Hyun, who is currently part of a high-profile internship and has already distinguished himself as a standout Cinematic Arts student. He also runs a popular urban photography Instagram account here.

Tell us a little about your background before coming to APU, especially as it relates to your interest in pursuing Cinematic Arts.

My background? Haha honestly I picked a camera up with serious intentions near the end of my senior year of high school. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in college, maybe business, maybe communications, definitely nothing math related. My dad was the first to propose the consideration of film, saying he had noticed how much I enjoyed building a team and shooting videos for fun for school projects. So I picked up an old camcorder, put it on a big heavy tripod, and carried it around, vlogging with my friends, and I guess I never put it down. The videos were embarrassing and cringey but I’m extremely proud of the moments and memories I captured with my best friends. I bought a real camera shortly after and continued on with it into my first year here at APU. Since then, I’ve come a long way, I guess. As a freshman, I won a film festival, having directed a small short detailing the relevance of civil rights today. They flew our team down to Memphis where thousands were gathered, showed the film, and spent three days at events. I gave a speech to hundreds of people and heard amazing speeches from Dr. King’s children, it was unforgettable. I’ve been around the world shooting content for brands and meeting amazing people. I’ve got a film in festivals right now. I’ve built an audience of thousands of people on Instagram for my photography. I’ve met some of the coolest people and closest friends, and I’m so grateful to God for all of it. And there’s so much I still want to do and stories I want to tell or be a part of telling.

In terms of your current internship, what led to it happening in the first place?

First and foremost I have to thank Kim Snyder, the CEO of Panavision. She was the one who told me of the internship in the first place, and helped me through the application process. I can’t even express how amazing she has been in helping me this summer. I remember her telling me about the internship the first time over email, after she had given me and a couple of my friends a personal tour of the Woodland Hills facility. She told me that she thought I had a really solid chance of getting one of the 118 spots with my current résumé, and so I went for it, through her encouragement. It took a long time to hear back, but I remember getting the email in my Bowles apartment as a sophomore. I jumped on my chair and started screaming, threw my phone at Jared (the absolute homie) and we just went crazy. It was unreal.

And what exactly are you doing on the internship?

The internship was actually two internships working in conjunction with each other: one with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and with Light Iron (a Panavision post production coloring studio on Vine Street). Both paid, the jobs lasted for 8 weeks, the first two orientation days were spent touring virtually every major motion picture studio in Los Angeles, with dinners and receptions to hang out and talk with Academy members and esteemed industry workers. So over the course of 2 months, I would work 9-5 at Light Iron, doing runs to the studios for projects in production, and sit through and watch the colorists work their magic on various TV shows, movies, and commercials before finalizing them for the big screen. On Wednesday nights and over the weekends, though, I would go and attend panels or events with the Academy on various topics in the film industry, meeting and learning from talented artists from every facet of the industry, too many to count. I met the people who make the movies and TV shows that we all watch. It was thrilling. It’s a super exclusive program and I’m so thankful to have been a part of it.

In addition to its end, all the interns get a 9-month personal mentorship (minimum) from an Academy member, in conjunction with the internship. I was paired with my favorite director: I’ve done in-class presentations on him, read everything about him, and am so stoked to have been able to get him as my personal mentor. His name is Jon Chu, (director of Crazy Rich Asians, among a multitude of other movies). It would be safe to say I had trouble breathing when I got the news he was selected as my mentor. There’s a whole story about how that selection came to be, but that’s a story for another time.

What’s something especially helpful you’ve gotten to do or observe while interning?

I think one of the most important things to realize about film and the industry is that it’s comprised of people. Sounds simple boiled down to that, but that’s it. They’re just like everyone else. They work hard, they know their craft, and they make sure they get good at their craft. They’re artists, and they share a passion for making movies, just like we do. At the end of the day, knowing that they are just humans, too, gives you that little bit of courage to reach out and talk to someone and learn from them. In a sense, that’s a good way to go about interacting with anyone, but that really is one of the most important things I learned while interning.

Talk about your ambitions for the future. How does the work you’re doing now—in your classes and internship—align with your future ambitions?

Oooof. That’s the question isn’t it? I have so many goals, big and small. Some for this month, the next couple months and years even. But one day, I want to direct a major motion picture, and in the meantime I want to shoot music videos. Why? For no other reason than I want people and kids-at-heart like me to go into a theater, watch a movie that I had the opportunity to make with all my best friends over the years, and be so enthralled and emotionally impacted by it that they go tell their friends, come back and watch it again. And again. And again. The work I currently do, a lot outside of school here at APU, has been quite the ride. I was hired to direct a web series pilot with my best friend Jared Brown, and it was an awesome experience (really hard but awesome), one that I learned a ton from about directing, working with bigger crews, and how to handle a set when other people’s money is involved. I had a gig where I needed to head down to Mexico this summer to shoot content for a great organization, and I’m still learning a lot here at school about lighting while I work on the junior-level project. I think there are a lot of doors open and opening right now which I’m extremely thankful for. I’m currently working on several different music videos and enjoying each and every one of them. I firmly believe that any work or project I put my heart into will be beneficial either for the connections made, the lessons learned, or the experience gained, so I take everything fairly seriously and put my best into it.

Any advice for a prospective APU Cinematic Arts student?

Two things. One may be counterintuitive but here it is. You HAVE to do your own stuff outside of school. Film school only carries you through two maybe three projects if you’re lucky that you’ll actually potentially use for the reel, and that’s not usually going to cut it. There’s a lot more people out there working hard, maybe not even in school, making stuff every single day of every single week. Don’t let them outwork you just because you go to school for what you love.

Secondly, use film school as your advantage. Abuse the ability to say you are a “student.” It’ll get you on sets, it’ll get you free work, it’ll get you time with people and a lot of extra-curricular activities and experiences. And try and reach out to as many people as you can because film school allows you to meet people that you can hire or may hire you in the near future. I wish I had talked to more people right off the bat, but we’re getting there.

Anything else you’d like to add?

If you want to shoot, collab, or get coffee… I would be stoked. There’s a great coffee shop I always go to (Adosage shameless plug) and I LOVE coffee.