Film Courage: How did you become an industry event producer?
Erman Baradi: I interned in West Hollywood back in 2012 and when I got back home to the east coast I knew I had to keep the momentum going. So, I used social media to capture the attention of those who lived in NYC and LA and created a name that made it seem like I was LA-based: @Erman_LA. I started getting contacted to do industry odd jobs, some relating to events and rounding up industry pros. This was a launching pad for me to start serious networking. Years go by and I start taking my writing more seriously. I’m still trying to find representation myself. I started producing Hollywood events as an excuse to be in LA and to network with industry execs without looking like a desperate writer. Producing events has been my way of getting on their radars. Fortunately, I’ve received testimonials from attendees and speakers who’ve connected with new faces through my events.
Film Courage: How much time goes into every event that you produce?
Erman: I like having a set goal each period of time. Once one event ends I think of the next one, which could be 5-6 months later. It keeps me driven and occupied. You don’t want to burn yourself out but it’s smart to start working on your next one because you have the tremendous lineup from the previous event to use as leverage for the next lineup. If I had Star Wars: The Force Awakens exec producer Tommy Harper and someone like Marci Liroff who cast classics like Indiana Jones and Poltergeist and a manager like Carol Bodie who reps Ruby Rose, who wouldn’t want to be on my next event?
“If you think about it every job in existence is servicing others. Like events, whether you’re flipping a burger or selling retail or are in realty or are a Hollywood actor, you are serving others or entertaining others. If people’s careers progress because of what I offer then it’s all worth it.”
Erman Baradi, Entertainment Events Producer/Writer
Film Courage: What is the hardest part of putting together a successful industry event?
Erman: I would say audience outreach. There are so many film-related events in LA that you have to make yours come across as rare and beneficial. You can have the biggest names as guests but your attendees want to know how their careers will progress from being there. As far as guests are concerned, we all know the industry is super fickle. A big producer or actor could lock himself into the lineup early on but down the road they have to drop out due to a new project. When that happens I have to find a proper replacement who the audience would be just as excited about.
Film Courage: How did you develop a passion for helping others’ careers in entertainment? Why is this important to you?
Erman: It’s because I am not completely broken into the industry yet. I’m not a power player who makes the big calls. Yet, I’m still thankful for the all the industry names who’ve supported me through the years and have offered advice and have taken the time to meet over coffee. Some of them are interactive with me on social media and keep up with what I do and tell me what great things I’m doing. If you think about it every job in existence is servicing others. Like events, whether you’re flipping a burger or selling retail or are in realty or are a Hollywood actor, you are serving others or entertaining others. If people’s careers progress because of what I offer then it’s all worth it.
Film Courage: To what do you attribute your success (and at such a young age)?
Erman: Most people my age are worried about their Saturday nights and who they’ll hook up with. I’m not concerned with that. I look at the entertainment industry like dating. If someone in the business doesn’t want to work with you then you can always move onto the next one. What’s key to me is the ability to let go, business and personal. Someone stops talking to me after two weeks? Let it go. If they don’t want to be part of what I have going on, there’ll always be someone who will. So, you must be able to prioritize for the long run what’s important. I could worry about the girl who just stopped talking to me, or I could rather stay focused on the string of international vacations I plan on having sometime down the line. You’ll know who you should let stick around based on who wants to stick around. Rock with me and I got you. When I make it, you make it.
Film Courage: How did your brother get involved in planning panels with you?
Erman: He attended my last Rel/event and was inspired and had his own ideas and changes to contribute.
Film Courage: How do each of your skill sets compliment one another?
Erman: He’s more business and I’m more creative. He sees numbers and I see what’s fun and engaging and interesting. Plus, he came at it from the audience perspective. He saw what they saw, which is helpful to me.
Film Courage: Advice for working with family?
Erman: Have distinct roles and have the other person be accountable. Still be concerned about the other’s work but always know your role.
Film Courage: You currently have a new brand entitled MixKnowledgy? How did this come about? How is it different from ‘The Rel/event” series?
Erman: MixKnowledgy is a unique mixer and forum experience. My events have always consisted of three parts: a red carpet with media, the panels themselves, then a mixer or after party. I intend for MixKnowledgy to be more interactive and with more time devoted to networking. As the name entails, I plan on having an official “MixKnowledgist” for drinks and cocktails. It’ll be all ages but having that thematic addition is a fun detail.
Film Courage: How did you meet your MixKnowledgy co-founder Brandon Waites?
Erman: We connected via Facebook. He reached out to me because he saw The Rel/event and realized we attended the same college. He flew out to help out with the previous event. I like collaborating with people who knows as much as about the industry or the people in it. We vibe really well. We can mention a producer or agent or a production company and we’ll both know what the other is talking about and have a full discussion on it. It’s difficult to work with someone who doesn’t know much about the game or how it works. But with Brandon on board we can bring up a name or project and immediately know if an appearance works for the brand. We have mutual industry contacts, too, which is great. Individually, we’re able to set up meetings when we’re in town so imagine us together in the same room.
Erman: When you think of panel discussions you usually think of boring town halls. I’m a fan of opposites attracting or juxtapositions. I tend to have mine in cool nightclub or lounge environments. That way, drinking is involved and we can have a DJ to keep us occupied in between panels. The last one was huge with Globe Theater in Downtown Los Angeles, but I equally enjoy the smaller venues that give us a true intimate setting.
Film Courage: What are the two upcoming contests about?
Erman: We are holding a contest for two actors (1 male, 1 female) to win a chance to perform monologues at the event. Simply email MixKnowledgy@gmail.com a video of you performing any monologue between 1-5 minutes. Contest ends August 15th. Must provide proof of ticket purchase.
And we have an Instagram contest: record a short film in Instagram video and tag our brand new Instagram account @MixKnowledgy with hashtag #MixKnowledgyContest. Any genre and any length. Nudity automatically disqualifies your submission but adult language and violence allowed. Contest ends August 1st and will be judged by a selection of guest speakers. Winner will be notified August 15th and will win lunch with a TBA Hollywood manager or agent in September.
“When you think of panel discussions you usually think of boring town halls. I’m a fan of opposites attracting or juxtapositions. I tend to have mine in cool nightclub or lounge environments….”
Erman Baradi, Entertainment Events Producer/Writer
Film Courage: Can you tell us a typical day in the life of Erman?
Erman: I’m trying to get more writing done but honestly outside of that not so glamorous! My day consists of sending a ton of emails, phone calls, and social media.
Film Courage: Because you are balancing so many events, projects, meeting, etc., how do you prioritize your day? Do you make “to-do” lists, reminder apps, etc.?
Erman: I don’t necessarily have a set plan because I don’t think I could stand monotony or routine. I like to be as spontaneous as possible when possible. In the future when there’s serious income and I become a big player in the industry, of course, I intend to have an assistant.
Film Courage: Have you been back home to Virginia and if so, have others secretly confided that they wished for some of your bravery and gumption to follow what interests you?
Erman: Actually, one of the misconceptions people have is that I live in LA! I’m technically bi-coastal but I’m more so in Virginia because it’s home. I’m in LA four or five times a year. I hear it all the time when it comes to people being inspired with how I “made it out of Virginia.” I wouldn’t call it bravery, I’d call it drive. If you want to be where the industry is you’ll figure it out.
Film Courage: What is the best professional lesson you’ve ever learned?
Erman: Find a way to stick out. It’s so vague but really think about it. I use events to meet people. I didn’t go the regular writer route. Make them want to get to know you out of the millions of others trying to make it. Bring out your best qualities. What can you offer that others cannot?
Erman: I am excited about both equally. It’s a true experience to watch a project on the big screen but the quality of television nowadays is incredible. Like a lot of people I’m in love with The Walking Dead. I am a huge fan of Empire and a lot of Netflix shows likeMaster of None. Quantico was one of my favorite freshman series. There was a movie a few years back that really amped up my interest in filmmaking. Drive with Ryan Gosling was the perfect blend of mood, story, cinematography, and soundtrack I thought. Ex Machina last year was so rich with ideas and moral questions. I love movies that make you think way surpassed its run time.
Film Courage: Who are some panelists you hope to one day speak with?
Erman: I hope to have more big female names on board. I’ve built a rapport with The Walking Dead writer and co-EP, Angela Kang, ever since I interviewed her last year. I’ve been trying to get her for a while. Same deal with Academy Award-winning producer Blye Faust of Spotlight. She’s always too busy! Marvel executive producer Victoria Alonso has always been on the brink of joining but each time her schedule busies up as you can imagine. Captain America: Civil War was one of my favorite films so far in 2016. I’d like to have Lauren Shuler Donner back again! She’s amazing. She produced Deadpooland X-Men: Apocalypse.
Film Courage: Can you share about the new event coming up in September and who the panelist will be?
Erman: It will be on Saturday, September 10th. That’s the next weekend I’ll be in LA. Venue to be announced. Jeffrey Bernstein, entertainment lawyer, partner at Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum Morris & Klein. His clients include Margot Robbie, Blake Lively, Samuel L. Jackson, Judi Dench, Hilary Swank, Norman Reedus, and Tessa Thompson. Ashley Josephson, manager, Mosaic. Clients include Kate Mara, Tessa Thompson, Vanessa Lachey. Christine Holder, co-executive producer, “Beasts of No Nation” and Manager, Zero Gravity Management. Steven Neibert, owner/voice talent agent, Imperium 7 Talent Agency. Clients include Katey Sagal, Kyle Chandler, Anthony Michael Hall. Heather Weiss, publicist/VP, House and Much PR. Clients include Mayim Bialik, Christina Grimmie, Sarah Drew. Dale Godboldo, actor, “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story;” executive producer, Lionsgate’s “Flyy Girl;” producer, Lionsgate’s “Superstition: Final Chance.” Sujata Day, actress, HBO’s “Insecure” co-produced by Larry Wilmore. Elia Petridis, virtual reality filmmaker, “Eye for an Eye: A Seance in Virtual Reality.” Jason Barrett, manager. Clients include Zac Efron, LL Cool J.Robert Stein, manager. Clients include Grant Gustin and Jason Clarke.
There’ll be more added to the list shortly!
Since May 2015 entertainment events producer Erman Baradi has produced lineups in LA and NYC that have included the likes of Lauren Shuler Donner (producer, Deadpool, X-Men: Apocalypse), April Webster and Tommy Harper (casting director and executive producer of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, respectively), James Foley (director, House of Cards, Fifty Shades Darker), Byron Wetzel (manager, Michael Shannon), Kyle Luker (manager, Industry Entertainment, Krysten Ritter), Alexander Dinelaris (Academy Award winning writer, Birdman), Doug Jung (writer, Star Trek Beyond), Stephany Folsom (writer, Thor: Ragnarok), Joshua Allen (story editor, Empire), Thomas Dean Donnelly (writer, Doctor Strange), Alan Wenkus (Academy Award nominated writer and executive producer, Straight Outta Compton), Gary Pearl (executive producer, Jane the Virgin), Lewaa Nasserdeen (writer, The Goldbergs, The Real O’Neals), Kerry Barden (casting director, Spotlight, Jessica Jones), Marci Liroff (casting director, E.T., Indiana Jones, Poltergeist), Ali Liebegott (writer, Transparent), Carol Bodie (manager, Ruby Rose), Alex Ott (producer, Suicide Squad), Miles Cooley (entertainment lawyer, Rihanna), Gohar Gazazyan (casting director, The Walking Dead, Gotham), CAA agent Rick Lucas (Neil Patrick Harris, Common, Freida Pinto, Dave Franco, Jason Statham), Jackie Sollitto (casting associate, The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl), commercial agent Liz Dalling (Chris Hemsworth, Henry Cavill), Jazmyn Simon (actress, Ballers), Megan Brophy (publicist, ID PR, Melissa Rauch, Ian Somerhalder, Ellen Page), Stephen Rider (actor, Daredevil season 2), and over 50 other talented and illustrious industry professionals who offered their time to share their knowledge, stories, and advice to aspiring creatives.
September 10, 2016 will be his first event under his brand new MixKnowledgy banner – co-founded with Brandon Waites and an assist by brother Erbin Baradi – a unique entertainment experience that combines elements of a mixer and a forum. Already on board for the evening’s panels are entertainment lawyer Jeffrey Bernstein (clients include Norman Reedus, Blake Lively, Samuel L. Jackson, Margot Robbie, Kit Harington, Judi Dench), talent manager Ashley Josephson (clients include Tessa Thompson, Vanessa Lachey, Kate Mara) of Mosaic, producer Christine Holder (Beasts of No Nation), manager Jason Barrett (Zac Efron, LL Cool J), actor Dale Godboldo (The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story), actress Sujata Day (upcoming Insecure on HBO produced by Larry Wilmore), voice talent agent Steven Neibert (Katey Sagal, Kyle Chandler), and publicist Heather Weiss (Mayim Bialik, Sarah Drew) of Much and House PR.
2016 will see a multitude of collaborations as Erman is booking panels for the Downtown LA Film Festival in September, an event in Santa Monica with production and finance company Buffalo 8, and branch out to Chicago. He helped with his first Sundance event with the International Screenwriters’ Association and coordinated the Hollywood Gatekeepers panel at the Great American PitchFest 2016.
Outside of events, Erman was named “Who’s Next in Hollywood” by NXUP Magazine in late 2015, and was featured in ALIST Magazine in December 2015, an outlet dedicated to highlighting Asian American success stories. As an aspiring screenwriter, Erman is in pre-production for a few shorts this summer and fall and hopes to begin acting on more projects. In addition, Erman is planning to self-releasing a poetry anthology of pieces written in the last five years. Erman continues to serve as an interviewer and writer for Vents Magazine and intends to start his own phone conference interview series to highlight industry pros. Most recently, Erman was represented by Persona PR.
Check out Erman’s prior Film Courage Q&A here.