Director Blaine Hogan is ready to take center stage as he joins the roster at the Chicago and L.A.-based production company, Tessa Films. The signing of the former actor-turned-filmmaker, who earned his chops treading the boards of some of Chicago’s best-known theatre companies, was announced by Tessa Films EP and Founder Lisa Masseur.
With a compelling visual style, a storyteller’s intuition and an eclectic creative background, Hogan first met Masseur through a mutual colleague when the EP was launching her company in 2017. “Blaine had done some amazingly heartfelt documentary work that I was immediately drawn to,” she explains. “We talked about where he was in his career and how he could build on that to expand into more commercial work, and we stayed in touch. And wow, has his body of work grown since then!
“I’d hoped from that first meeting that Blaine would eventually join our roster, but the pandemic and other circumstances led to that taking longer than expected,” Masseur adds. “I’m thrilled we’re finally announcing our partnership.”
Masseur says a number of qualities contribute to making Hogan a good fit for her company. “He’s enthusiastic and passionate about telling stories, and that enthusiasm is contagious to clients, talent, crew and simply anyone who he works with,” she observes. “And that enthusiasm actually led him to writing a book about himself and his path to creativity – which was just released! His reel has a wealth of truly engaging spots, and on top of that he’s simply a wonderful human being.”
Hogan explains that he was drawn to acting while young; many in his family were entertainers. “It was kind of in my blood,” he recalls, while also providing an escape from the trauma of a difficult childhood. He moved to Chicago after graduating from the drama program at Butler University, finding work at some of the city’s most acclaimed theater companies, along with doing small TV and film roles. He earned his SAG card while working on a FOX series that shot in the city, and his destiny seemed set, but instead he took a break from acting to focus on his personal life; it was during this period of introspection that he got his Master’s Degree in Theology and Culture, with a concentration in psychology.
Hogan’s career then took an even more interesting sidestep when he returned to Chicago, but rather than return to acting he accepted the Creative Director post at a non-denominational megachurch. The experience proved to be life changing. “They had an enormous, 7,000 seat theater, and really believed in utilizing the best artists, not just in Chicago but around the country, to create art that would connect people to their spirituality,” he recounts. “Flipping many of my productions SAG, the church became my film school.”
After leaving the church gig he began to pursue freelance directing, when another transformational experience took place. A small agency in Colorado, Human Design, was working on a campaign for a new plant-based protein powder called Ladder, which was being backed by a number of celebrities, including Cindy Crawford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, LeBron James and Lindsey Vonn. Having trouble nailing the scripts, a colleague suggested Hogan. He won the assignment and went on to direct the campaign. “It really launched my career in advertising,” he says.
Fast forward to the present and his showreel includes work both aspirational and inspirational for Nike, Alaska Airlines, Magnolia Networks and many other brands. With a deft touch for lifestyle and a sure hand when working with celebrities – he’s directed everyone from Billie Eilish and Khalid to Usher, Joe Jonas and Carrie Underwood – Hogan is poised to level up, which is one key reason he’s signed with Tessa.
“Blaine’s background makes him an incredibly strong candidate for agencies and brands,” Masseur observes. “He brings a wealth of insight and empathy to the table as a former actor, and he’s able to connect with people’s emotions thanks to his deep understanding of psychology. It’s really an ideal mix of skills for our industry.”
On joining Tessa, Hogan says he’s looking for a grounding experience. “I view directing as a team sport,” he says. “It’s not an individual effort. And I’m at a place in my career where I don’t want to be doing everything on my own. I’ve longed to have more collaboration on the front end, and so having a production company like Tessa alongside is enticing. It makes me feel like this is my home base, and this is my home team.”
There’s another appealing aspect to the move that speaks to his character. “I grew up in the Midwest, and I really value integrity and honesty,” he says. These are qualities that motivated Hogan to write his book, which is candid confessional about facing life’s personal challenges that offers innovative ways to overcome their impact. Tilted “Exit the Cave: Embracing a Life of Courage, Creativity & Radical Imagination,” it can be ordered here.
For Hogan, partnering with Tessa will etch the next chapter in his dynamic creative journey. “This is a company that’s always had a culture of diversity, and that’s always been important to me,” he remarks. “And they’re workhorses, too, with an amazing ethic. And that’s something I admire.”
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