Alumni Spotlight on brothers John and Hudson Liverance
A trio of talented brothers are making their way in the extremely competitive field of entertainment. Two of the Liverance brothers are recent College of Liberal Arts graduates and are living in Los Angeles to pursue their dreams – John, who graduated in 2018, is working at DreamWorks Animation, and Hudson, who graduated in 2017, is working at Paramount Pictures. Their older brother graduated from University of Michigan and is an animator at DreamWorks, and their little sister works in the office of Auburn’s Athletic Director, Allen Greene.
Their mom, Patty Liverance, is an administrative assistant on campus and said her four children have always been willing to roll up their sleeves to get the work done. “They are all such hard workers,” Patty said. “I am proud of them.”
Both Hudson and John carved out time in their busy schedules to answer a few questions about their current positions, their time at Auburn, and what they’d ultimately like to do in their careers.
Would you please tell us about yourself?
JOHN LIVERANCE: I’m from a bit of everywhere. In my life I have lived in Wyoming, New York, Texas, Michigan, Alabama, and now California. I am grateful for this “nomadic” life, as it has allowed me to experience different regions of the country and meet some truly wonderful people (although I have to say that nothing beats the South). I am now living in Los Angeles, California - working as a production assistant at DreamWorks Animation and loving every minute of it. I am so thankful that I have family back in Auburn though, as it gives me another great reason to travel all 2,000 miles back to The Plains as often as I can.
HUDSON LIVERANCE: I was born in Utah, but I have lived in a number of places including Wyoming, New York, Texas, Michigan, and, of course, Auburn, AL. At the end of December 2017, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in entertainment. At the end of October, I will begin my position as a page at Paramount Pictures.
How did you choose to attend Auburn, and how did you choose your major(s)?
JOHN: I really have two people to credit for my choice to attend Auburn: my brother Hudson and Chris Davis. My brother decided to attend Auburn the year before I began. When I visited him, I fell in love with everything immediately. It wasn’t until late November of 2013 that I would make my final decision. As a birthday present, my mother bought me a ticket to the Iron Bowl. I was living in Michigan at the time and still hadn’t made a final decision on where I would be attending college. Right before I boarded the plane to Atlanta, I received the wonderful news that I was accepted to Auburn. Less than 24 hours later I was in Jordan-Hare stadium, watching Chris Davis run a missed field goal 109 yards to the house for perhaps the most incredible moment in college football history. Needless to say my decision was a simple one. My decision to join the Media Studies program was also a simple one – working in entertainment has been a dream of mine for a long time, and Auburn offered a lot of great opportunities. It all fell together quite nicely.
HUDSON: Though entertainment has always been my greatest passion, I had no intention of pursuing it when I first came to Auburn. Instead, I was going to fly planes. I moved from Michigan to Alabama for flight training and Air Force ROTC. Although it was a very enjoyable experience, after a year of flying, I realized there was no point in forcing myself to do anything other than what I truly loved. I changed my major to Visual Media Studies and started a music minor.
What was your Auburn experience like as a student?
JOHN: I loved my experience as a student at Auburn. Looking back, it is quite remarkable what could fit into just four years. My first three years were spent working for the Auburn Football team as a student manager. This job demanded a lot of my time, and was incredibly rewarding. It allowed me to travel to most of the SEC schools, as well as visit different cities for bowl games - confirming my completely unbiased opinion that Auburn is the best school in the country. I also worked and interned for War Eagle Productions. It was humbling to see all of the hard work that went into producing a live sports broadcast, and it was also fun to work with the post-production team as we created content for Auburn Men’s Basketball. Along with my work for athletics, I made wonderful and lasting friendships on campus through different classes, groups and jobs, and was fortunate enough to spend those years with my brother and sister. I don’t think it was possible for me to have had a better experience at Auburn and I count it as one of the greatest blessings in my life.
HUDSON: I couldn’t have had a better experience at Auburn. I feel as though I got to experience absolutely everything campus had to offer. In my four years, I flew planes, trained as a cadet in AFROTC, played and traveled with the AU Marching Band, took classes in film, music, business, writing and history, and attended some unforgettable football games. Throughout all of this, I learned some invaluable lessons and made lasting friendships.
Did you have any favorite professors or classes while at Auburn? (If so, who/which ones and why?)
JOHN: I really enjoyed my media courses. I will always be thankful for my filmmaking-specific classes, helmed by Hollie Lavenstein. These classes were a great place for students to discover their strengths and passions, as well as learn how to work together in a media setting. My final class with Hollie was our senior project, where we created a short film. That was one of my favorite classes during my time at Auburn. I also learned a lot of the technical skills needed for my current job in Sequence Design with Kevin Smith – a class I highly recommend for anyone interested in this field. Lastly, I enjoyed a lot of the classes taught by Ric Smith, who was constantly encouraging us to make the most out of our time at Auburn. A great piece of advice he gave us was to just start calling ourselves what we wanted to be. When asked what you do, don’t say “Well, I want to become a writer.” Rather, simply say, “I am a writer.” I thought this was wonderful advice and it has always stayed with me. So from this Academy Award-winning director, actor, composer, and writer - thank you, Ric.
HUDSON: My favorite class at Auburn was Piano Literature taught by Jeremy Samolesky. I took this class during my last semester and, at first, only signed up to satisfy a credit needed for graduation. It ended up being a great class that will stick with me for a long time. I learned more about music in that one class than ten years of instrument training had ever taught me. Dr. Samolesky was a great teacher who showed up to class excited about the material and ready to share it with all of us. I finished Piano Literature with a new understanding and appreciation of music.
What has been your path after graduation?
JOHN: I have always known that I wanted to work in entertainment with the ultimate goal to direct feature films – animation and live-action. So a relocation to the West Coast was my first decision. While that meant leaving the comfort of the Southern home I had grown to love, it was also pretty exciting. I was lucky enough to have two brothers with the same passion for the entertainment industry, so I wouldn’t be going at it alone. I spent most of the spring and summer of 2018 applying to endless jobs and getting a little too familiar with the word “no.” Finally, I landed an interview with DreamWorks and was fortunate enough to accept a position in production. From here, I hope to learn everything I can about the animation industry and become familiar with the important processes in production, as well as help to create some really fun projects before pursuing a more creative position.
HUDSON: Immediately after graduation, I began my internship at CONAN, which lasted from January to May. After it ended, I spent the summer working at the Los Angeles Country Club and applying to jobs in entertainment. Four months and a couple hundred applications later, I received a call from Paramount Pictures. I went in for two different interviews and was offered the job at the end of the second one. I’m working at Paramount now and I could not be more excited.
Hudson, what was your internship at CONAN like? What did you do there? And how did it come about?
HUDSON: My internship with CONAN was the perfect place to start in entertainment. I found out about the internship on their website and sent my resume to the email provided. After several weeks had passed, I was asked to participate in a phone interview. The interview was short, and I was offered the position of talent intern the next week. As a talent intern, I was responsible for assisting the talent executives. I answered phones, cleaned and stocked the green rooms, and welcomed the guests to the show. I got to meet all of the stars and made some great connections. Everyone at CONAN was a joy to work with. It was an unforgettable experience.
John, what does a typical day at work look like for you at DreamWorks?
JOHN: My typical day at DreamWorks involves a lot of different things. It is a really great experience because it allows me to take a look at every department along the creative pipeline. I assist producers, directors, writers, editors, artists and animators. Every day I juggle a few different responsibilities. Some days I will be going through scripts to find what objects, characters, or sets need to be created by our artists, other days we are helping storyboard artists get ready for a storyboard pitch, where we find out if the ideas of the script are being communicated visually – every day is something different, which keeps it interesting and challenging. The general idea is that I help every creative position with their production needs – the behind-the-scenes aspects of creating an animation that they shouldn’t have to worry about.
Hudson, can you tell us what your new position with Paramount and what it entails?
HUDSON: The Paramount Page Program serves as a modern day “Mail Room”. It finds people interested in the entertainment industry, trains them, and sends them into a variety of different careers. The main job of a page is giving tours of the studio lot. They also help manage audiences for different shows, and assist various Paramount Executives. The program will last for up to two years, and will hopefully lead to a full time job with Paramount.
What is it that you ultimately want to do (career-wise)? And what’s the best thing you did at Auburn that helped prepare you for this?
HUDSON: Ultimately, I want to be a composer and song writer for film. I have two brothers who also work in entertainment in LA. Our dream is to one day make movies together. Although my film classes at Auburn didn’t include any film scoring, they are what best prepared me for my future career. All of the top film composers will tell you: if you want to be a great composer, learn every aspect of the filmmaking process. In taking these classes, I was able to learn more about what each person on a film crew is responsible for and what they need to accomplish their job. I learned about storytelling, character development, and identifying the theme of a story. Through these classes, I have come to realize that each of these aspects should be equally as important to a composer as the notes they write.
And finally, what advice do you have for someone who’s interested in pursuing your line of work?
JOHN: Pursuing a career in entertainment can be a daunting task and the job market is very competitive. Use the college years to build your resume with experience and skills and then be prepared to persevere through rejection. There is a wonderful scene at the end of the movie Cast Away where Tom Hanks’ character says, “And I know what I have to do now. I got to keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?” I think that is great advice for when you feel overwhelmed. Although I knew what I wanted to do after school, I initially struggled with fear that I didn’t have the ability to reach my goals. I discovered the only way I could really make any progress was to focus on the small things I could accomplish day by day. Also, find a “Wilson” or two to keep you motivated. Keep breathing – you never know what the tide might bring.
Interviewed by Vicky Santos, director of news and media services in the College of Liberal Arts at Auburn University.
Last Updated: November 05, 2018