Interview by Maria Rochelle
Erman Baradi from Virginia Beach to Los Angeles. He’s made the move to sunny LA to continue his work in the film industry. Learn more about this incredible guy who is truly next up in Hollywood.
You’ve been called “Top Networker” by The Huffington Post and “Next In Hollywood” by NXUP Magazine. How does that make you feel?
No shame – I’m going to pull the Asian American card! I’m trying to represent! I think it’s cool I am getting that recognition. For me, it’s affirmation that I’m in the right industry. In 2011, I was let go from the first and only office job I ever had. Even then I picked my own hours. Still, I knew then I would pursue an entertainment career full on. Other people are watching what I’m doing, so I’m grateful that other people gave me those titles. I am sure there others like me, but I’m not complaining. I’ll take the titles! I haven’t even sold a script yet or made a big Hollywood movie, so it means a lot so have eyeballs on me already. Who knows, maybe Erman Baradi, Forbes 30 Under 30 is next.
How did you start networking and what advice can you give to someone who doesn’t have much experience? What does it mean as well?
Well, I’m from Virginia so for me in my 20’s it was about connecting to an industry on the other side of the country. I had to strategize. It wasn’t going to be a situation where I move to LA with $20 and get a food service job and wait for something to happen. I knew I would live with my parents for a while to cut costs. I would travel back and forth to build sky mileage and lay a foundation before making the full move. I did my first Hollywood internship to slap it on my resume. Then, I went to work on my social media and branding myself. Then, I started doing interviews first to network with talents, managers, agents, and publicists. Got a writing gig without prior interview experience so I spent my last $5 on a Rolling Stone and figured it out. Companies started hiring me for events. Then, when I ventured into panel events I used those contacts to get guest speakers. From there, I no longer had to work on referrals but directly contact industry reps. My advice would be to do something big that separates yourself from others vying for the same work you are. People work remotely nowadays. You can do anything with the internet.
From the networking, you started event producing. What is your favorite thing about it?
I would say the purpose of it all is to see other lives be impacted. We’ve received testimonials of people who’ve landed meetings or reps after attending our events, and some who found collaborators on projects. Sometimes, I think back to the beginning and wonder what if I never took the plunge into events and even interviews. What if I never took the internship that started it all. Groups of people would have never met.
I think this is like our third interview, and each time you have something new and exciting going on. From producing events and now producing a film. How did that all start?
From event producer to film producer, I love it. My MixKnowledgy and The Film Empire partner Brandon Waites is a good tag team partner. We’re both hustlers and networkers. Admittedly, it can be hard having a partner. It’s been proven that I can do things alone. So imagine going from 100% to 50% on something I can do solo. But, it is always beneficial to to have that second voice to see something that you may not see. We are both about the bigger picture, our end goals. Sometimes one of us can meet someone and the other can help the relationship flourish. I randomly connected with screenwriter Jeff Howard on Twitter for one of our contests, and Brandon was able to help segue that relationship into a filmmaking relationship. At this point in time we can’t talk too much about it, but we are grateful Jeff has been so supportive and faithful of our team.
What as a producer do you do for those who don’t know what a producer does in Hollywood?
I am still a “new guy” so I’m still learning admittedly. But something I can tell you is it deals with a lot of putting out fires. We have to keep the cast and crew motivated and make sure there are as less headaches as possible. The director has to be able to work without huge problems getting in the way. It’s funny watching a movie with friends who simply enjoy movies and are not interested in the business. They don’t know how much crap these people have to go through to get the movie made.
What’s next for you? Any more events?
We just had our summer party and panel in DTLA at The Reserve nightclub on July 28th! It marked over 250 speakers all together in the last few years. We have speakers from THIS IS US, WESTWORLD, INSECURE, and a ton more. Visit thefilmempire.eventbrite.com. We also have our ongoing filmmaking and screenwriting mentorship contests! We just named the winner of our first filmmaking mentor contest, so those meetings are taking place at the end of this month. Great mentor lineups! Our first mentor winner Daniel Mentz of “Slipaway” had invaluable meetings across the board. You can check out our contests at thefilmempire.com. I have a music panel on Studio City on September 28th(projectmus3.eventbrite.com).We are collaborating with Tesla and UCLA’s Bruin Entertainment Network for a women in TV and film lineup om October 4th, which includes speakers from LA LA LAND, THE DEFENDERS, MARCOS, 13 REASONS WHY, HBO, Legendary, and more! October 14th I launch my side project highlighting Asian American success stories called Innovasian (innovasian.eventbrite.com). On October 21st I have a music panel on Virginia (projectmuse757.eventbrite). We have a free Q&A with SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING cinematographer Salvatore Totino on November 7th in LA (salvatorela.eventbrite.com). I have something in the works in NYC on November 9th to be announced. Then celebrating my birthday at The Reserve in DTLA on November 17th (erman28.eventbrite.com). Plenty more to come! I hope to acquire more film work.
Who do you look ugly to in the entertainment industry?
Crazy story. I don’t usually get starstruck, but the other day Brandon and I saw Quentin Tarantino at the movie theater. I’ve never been so nervous in my life. It took us a while to man up and approach him.
Do you think that entertainers and writers can change the world or our perspective on it?
Absolutely! Politics is such a turn off to the majority of people, but what do most people do? Watch movies and television. I believe entertainment is one of those most immediate forms of influence. A impactful piece of cinema SHOULD change your perspective on life.
For those who are getting to know you, tell me three fun facts about you.
I don’t know if these are fun facts, but maybe these are interesting to women – um, people. I’m a Sagitarrius. My favorite store is H&M. And my current favorite music artist is Ed Sheeran and JC Cooper.
Final question, What keeps you going to do what you do from event producing to now film producing? What inspires YOU?
I want to make movies, so I can use the platform for social good. My goal is to one day launch foundations and charities that truly change lives. Being in the arts, of course, art programs would be one of them. I want to see other careers launch thanks to what we do.
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