A galaxy far, far away with Brant Harvey
Imagine working at The Walt Disney Company – before you have even graduated.
What is considered a dream for many was Brant Harvey’s reality during the third year of his business degree at RMIT when he scored a coveted internship with one of the world’s most successful entertainment companies.
“I lucked out,” he laughed. “I honestly could not believe it when I got that initial role with a company and brand I grew up admiring so much.”
Looking at his impressive resume, one would know it took more than luck however.
The amicable all-rounder started out as a marketing strategy intern within the Studios division and has since progressed through the company. Over the past seven and half years, Brant has held roles in film marketing, partnership management and product category management, working across each of the company’s four key brands: Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars.
“Disney is really good about moving people around,” Brant explained. “The company sees the value in having its cast members experience and grow from the different areas of the business locally and globally.”
Today, Brant is the Franchise Marketing Manager for Lucasfilm, managing the Star Wars brand across all areas of The Walt Disney Company to Australian and New Zealand consumers. With a key strategic focus on brand management, partnerships, events, communications, creative and fan relations, Brant’s role is broad and ever-changing.
“My job is to drive the overarching brand strategy locally, connecting the dots across the business and ensuring that we are maximising every opportunity for the brand at all times,” he said.
With Star Wars: The Last Jedi having been released last December and Solo: A Star Wars Story coming to cinemas this May, Disney has great ambitions for the Star Wars franchise.
“It is consuming, but it’s not all consuming.” admitted Brant. “What is so motivating every day is that there is always something incredibly exciting happening with the brand. We are right in the middle of releasing two huge films in the same six month period, but there is so much more outside of the cinema happening at the same time.”
One would think Brant was a super fan of Star Wars from a young age. Not quite.
“I grew up with an appreciation for the brand and its awesome key characters like Darth Vader, Chewbacca and R2-D2, but I wasn’t always a core fan like I am today,” he explained.
Interestingly, the absence of hard core fandom growing up may actually be Brant’s secret sauce. Thinking like a true strategist, he stresses the importance of being able to remove oneself from the perspective of a mega fan and adopting the mind sets of different audiences to succeed in entertainment marketing.
“A huge part of my job is ensuring that we service our core fans and give them opportunities to celebrate the brand locally, but it is equally important for us to be constantly seeking new audiences for Star Wars with new campaigns and events that will allow consumers to appreciate the brand through their own interests and passions.”
This philosophy might explain Brant’s pride in managing the Star Wars Film Concert Series with respective symphony orchestras across Australia and New Zealand. The events showcase the iconic film scores as they are played live to the film on stage.
“We see people attend the shows who might not otherwise engage with the brand. They have a passion for the stage and live music and this allows them to appreciate Star Wars in a way that’s relevant for them,” he explained.
“When you have a brand as big as Star Wars, a key challenge is how do you keep [it] going? The Film Concert Series shows really help us extend and broaden our local audience.”
All efforts are paying off for Brant and the local Disney team: the Film Concert Series shows have proved a huge commercial success, the brand has been the number one toy property in market for three consecutive years, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi recently became the third biggest movie of all time in Australia. For someone who was not sure how to answer the phone properly on his first day of in the office, Brant has certainly come a long way.
In light of a fulfilling Disney career, Brant acknowledges that the entertainment industry in Australia is much smaller than to that of the US. His advice for students who want to work in entertainment is to enrol in a course that includes an industry year option in order to stand out amongst a sea of ambitious graduates.
“It propels you,” he declared. “It gives you confidence and that critical experience everyone is looking for.”
“I’m conscious of how lucky I am in terms of being given this opportunity to come straight into such an amazing organisation, and aware that it never would have been possible without the opportunities I had as part of my RMIT course.”
A dash of luck with a lot of hard work, Brant’s journey has been nothing short of magical; or in Star Wars talk, it has been absolutely epic.