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Monday, 11 September 2017

Chat with Erman Baradi called "Top Networker" by Huffington Post

Erman in LA 

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. The first time we interviewed I was solo. That was almost two years ago. 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, giving up some freedoms and taking a pay cut. 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?

Adding up all the events, we've hit 300 speakers which is a milestone. We also have our ongoing filmmaking and screenwriting mentorship contests through The Film Empire! We named the winner of our first filmmaking mentor contest this summer, and those meetings took place at the end of July and early August. Great mentor lineups! Our first mentor winner Daniel Mentz of Slipaway had invaluable meetings across the board. Then, we are now announcing the winners to our three screenwriting contests and our horror film contest in which the winner makes a film under the mentorship of our horror lineup with filmmakers from Insidious, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Saw franchise, Don't Breathe, It, Ouija: Origin of Evil, and Bates Motel. Very soon, we are announcing our Female Filmmaking Mentorship Contest called The Fempire with over a dozen mentors. This will be one of our greatest mentor lineups to date. Visit thefilmempire.com for info.
We just had an event collaborating with UCLA’s Bruin Entertainment Network highlighting women in television and film, which included speakers from LA LA LAND, THE DEFENDERS, NARCOS, 13 REASONS WHY, HBO, Legendary, and more! October 14th I launched my side project highlighting Asian American success stories called Innovasian. We have a VFX panel on October 25th (hollywoodvfx.eventbrite.com) and a horror film panel on October 26th (horrorgathering.eventbrite.com). On November 9th we are in NYC with a film panel (mixknownyc.eventbrite.com) AND music panel (projectmusenyc.eventbrite.com) for the first time together. We then hit Miami on November 14th. More details soon on that. Follow us on social media for details. In November, I am celebrating my birthday for the first time in LA! So, I am offering my friends 3 chances to celebrate with me in case they can't make other dates. Knocking this all out before the holidays! I have a casting Q&A on November 11th with casting director Jessica Sherman (castingwithjs.eventbrite.com), and birthday dinner and panel on November 15th at The Parlor in West Hollywood (partyatparlor.eventbrite.com), and finally my club night celebration at The Reserve in DTLA on November 17th (hollywoodchills.eventbrite.com). Plenty more to come! I hope to acquire more film work with my team. Brandon and I just started representing this really talented horror filmmaker named Isaac Rodriguez. Check out his YouTube channel No Sleep. Exciting things to come from our soon to be launched Waites Baradi Entertainment venture. And in regards to my personal brand, I am launching a venture with my siblings called BarCada ("barkada" means gathering in the Filipino dialect Tagalog). 
Who do you look up to in the entertainment industry?
It's awesome to see folks like John Cho and Steven Yeun getting major roles in film and television. Also, my girl Angela Kang is super inspiring. She is a writer and executive producer on The Walking Dead, one of my favorite shows, and spoke at a previous event of ours. I just recently connected with another Asian American writer and producer, Melinda Hsu Taylor, whose credits include The Gifted, The Vampire Diaries, and Lost. I get inspired to see these Asian Americans making waves in the industry. Outside of Asian Americans...our contest winner and I had dinner with writer-producer Bekah Brunstetter of This Is Us this past summer. It is my absolute favorite show right now and she spent some of her younger years in my home state of Virginia. So, that's always great to see someone from my home state make it.

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 artists are 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. But in addition to that I would love to be able to contribute to programs that are not entertainment related like disaster relief and giving a hand up - not a hand out - to the homeless.

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About Maria Rochelle

Maria is a writer of multiple genres, and author of the popular children's picture story book series Jasmine Dreams.
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