By MITCH PRENTICE
In the fall of 1995, Andrew Isaacson – Knox College Class of 1999 – made the decision to apply to a small college in the Midwest that would ultimately lead him to a successful career in the entertainment industry. His journey from Knox College to working for The Famous Group, a nationally renowned entertainment technology company, is a testament to the transformative power of education and the ability to adapt and succeed in a constantly evolving industry.
Isaacson recalls being drawn to Knox after seeing the College ranked highly in U.S. News and World Reports. While this got his attention, his decision to attend Knox was solidified when Coach Harley Knosher actively recruited him to play golf. The personal connection and the feeling of being wanted by the Knox community played a pivotal role in his decision-making process. “I remember phone calls with Harley. It was awesome to feel loved and wanted from the very beginning of my time at Knox,” he said.
An active member of the Knox community, Isaacson served as an admissions tour guide, president of Sigma Nu, worked in the AV department delivering TVs and VCRs around campus, and even participated in Repertory Theatre Term. He says the personal connections he forged at the College remain with him to this day.
A major highlight of his time at Knox came after earning a Richter scholarship to produce a student film, “Summer’s End,” during his senior year. This was the beginning of a long interest in film and entertainment, which continued to develop working along Galesburg local Bill Morris to produce commercials.
After completing his student teaching in Abingdon, Isaacson and his now-wife Holly Engelhart Isaacson ’99, whom he met as a first-year at Knox, moved to Lubbock, Texas, where she finished her master’s degree. There, he eventually landed a job with a government news agency where he learned short-format shooting and editing techniques.
“Holly was along for the whole ride. Through all the challenges, she was a big part of making everything work,” Isaacson said.
The couple later relocated to Los Angeles, where Isaacson began his foray into the entertainment industry. Matt Wunderlin ’98, a peer from his time in Sigma Nu, helped him make connections in the city. Eventually, he met Jon Slusser, and now fellow partner, who was his bridge to working with The Famous Group.
The Famous Group, initially Hornet Animations, evolved over the years into a successful company with divisions in both commercials and entertainment. Isaacson quickly moved up the ranks, utilizing the communication and presentation skills he developed at Knox.
Isaacson’s early years with the company came with memorable experiences, including creating a hype video for the Los Angeles Clippers, working with star athletes like Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan on a Gatorade commercial, and being involved in the production of title sequences for films like “Hardball” starring Keanu Reeves and “Miracle.”
“I was hooked,” he said. “From that point on, I knew this work was a great combination of my interests.”
As his career progressed, he delved into the software side of the business, particularly with Vixi, a suite of products that allowed for innovative fan engagement during live events. The pivot to virtual experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic showcased Isaacson’s adaptability. His team created VirtualSeat, a platform that allowed fans to broadcast themselves from home during sporting events, saving live broadcasts during challenging times.
Isaacson currently serves as a partner of the company. During the 2024 Super Bowl, fans attending the game will be able to use The Famous Group’s tech to broadcast themselves live onto the video boards during the setup of the halftime show. The following weekend, The Famous Group will work closely with the NBA to create interactive content on the glass LED court used during All-Star weekend.
Looking back, Isaacson credits Knox College for instilling important life lessons. The resilience to overcome life’s challenges was key. He believes this has translated seamlessly into the world of live events. The importance of treating clients with kindness and respect, along with effective communication, were lessons ingrained in him during his time at Knox College.