Erman Baradi is the co-founder of the Hollywood event series MixKnowledgy (formerly The Rel/event) in LA, NYC, Chicago, Virginia, Miami, and London, as well as The Film Empire Hollywood mentorship contest. They have completed their 18th industry event marking over 300 speakers. Having a pulse on the scene, Erman has navigated his way from Hollywood intern to celebrity interviewer to now. The Huffington Post named him the Top Networker in Hollywood last year.
We had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Erman. Check out the interview below.
Hi, Erman! Thank you for granting the interview. You have several amazing projects that you’ve taken part in. Namely the event series MixKnowledgy. Tell us more.
Thank you so much for your time! It’s a wild story actually. I am from Virginia Beach, Virginia, and after finishing college I thought to myself, “How can someone from across the country from Hollywood get connected to the industry while still living here?” I am a writer so I had to strategize how to not come across as another desperate emailing executive to get read. My in was events. I couldn’t simply ask an exec to dinner just because, but if you ask them to attend an event as a guest (speaker) it gives them a bigger reason to be there. The concept of the bigger events we do is “panel and party” events, a fusion of forums and mixers. Imagine a nightclub with a series of Q&A’s/panels, a red carpet and media, and tons of drinking. It provides a laid-back atmosphere for attendees and industry pros to interact without any pressure. That’s what I am mostly known for and have put the hard work into for several years. Back in 2016, I met my business partner Brandon and we developed the event series MixKnowledgy coined by my older brother. Then we came up with The Film Empire for Hollywood mentorship contests. MixKnowledgy is more brick and mortar in respective cities whereas The Film Empire reaches out to filmmakers and screenwriters everywhere on the planet. I am also working towards releasing a book of written works compiled over the years! I’ve been writing since forever and have decided to put together my favorite creative pieces over the years.
2018 will be huge! Expansion for sure. We have so many plans with The Film Empire that we are excited about in terms of new contests and a variety of them. These will be contests most have never seen before or are not that common. As to not speak prematurely I’ll just say to stay updated on TheFilmEmpire.com and on social media! I can say that it goes far beyond just producers, directors, and writers. On the Mix side, we are focusing on lesser smaller events and spreading out the bigger events. We are doing bi-yearly conferences (summer and fall) and are even looking into doing a full-blown convention! That’s for Los Angeles. We are planning expansions in Seattle and Vancouver. The two of us are also putting time into another venture Waites Baradi Entertainment to work with blossoming talents, mostly writers and directors, in developing content. I had this exec recently tell me it was “only natural” we would eventually start developing content with fresh talents. Still, I’d put tremendous amount of focus on my own writing as that’s why I started my journey in the first place. I think it’s okay to be a little selfish in a career since. I spent so much time facilitating the dreams of others that my own ambitions were put on hold. Ultimately, this is what’s awesome about having a business partner that gets you. While our paths converged, they did not start together. I have goals and visions of my own just like Brandon his goals and visions of his own that are separate of each other. For his films that are strictly Brandon he has W8S Films just like how I’ll have projects of my own. I’ll have events that are just Erman just as he’ll have his own events. Imagine someone telling you when and what to do with the platform you brought to the table in the first place. I’m so fortunate it’s not like that. We know we have ambitions that we’ve held onto before we met that each of us want to maintain full creative control over, so we’d never get in the other’s way and I am grateful for that. I live in Los Angeles now so while Mix will doing less conferences I’ll be doing some sprinkled here and there to cross off some goals like honing my skills in hosting and interviewing, as well as to maintain a living here. One of my goals that I’ve had since college is to travel to a foreign city and write a story based in that city. I have an event in Toronto in the summer that will allow me to write in the beautiful city. It’s also where my parents had their honeymoon thirty-plus years ago so that will be a big family moment. It’s also an opportunity to lay the foundation in these cities to connect with filmmakers for potential projects. I’m laying a foundation in Paris as well. I do music events as a side projects and I’m planning one in Nashville. If emails were currency. These are steps for the bigger picture. Outside of all this, another goal for a while was to put together a venture with my siblings. I’m in process of LLC right now for BarCada, a family brand. I’m developing another fun event series that will be a karaoke team competition here in LA. I don’t want to be pigeonholed as the Hollywood event guy so I’m also proactively writing and meeting with friends about productions. I have an interest in acting as well so I’m going to take steps towards that craft.
Now, you’re venturing into screenwriting and film production. Which part of process resonates with you the most?
Writing is the most frustrating and rewarding thing. I have many acquaintances who working Hollywood writers and seeing their journeys on social media is very inspiring. There’s nothing like staring at a blank computer screen then finally finishing a story and know you painted this canvas from scratch.
What are you reading right now? Anything you can share?
So, our team is in post-production of a proof of concept horror short called “Don’t Look Back.” I don’t want to talk too much about it without revealing anything but you can find what you need on IMDb Pro. Brandon and I along with colleagues from Brazil produced the short written by acclaimed horror writer Jeff Howard (Gerald’s Game, Ouija: Origin of Evil) and edited by Todd Busch (Spider-Man: Homecoming) with music by Frank Simes of The Who. Fantastic team. Brandon and I are actively seeking projects out there from writers that we can potentially produce. We want to grow alongside talents. We have scripts in development right now as well since I write. 2018 is a year in which we are actively pursuing content but also developing it. I have a few managers and other creatives who have told me once I’m ready to pitch a project to go ahead and send it on over.
Yes! So, since maybe middle school I’ve writing creatively. It’s a story a tell a lot actually. I went to a magnet school in Virginia Beach that combined the “gifted” students from all the school districts. Turned out I wasn’t really book smart. Around this time I let my creative side flourish. Math and science were my worst subjects so during class I’d spend time jotting down witty quotes or lines I picture would be in movies. So over the years, I’ve built up a collection of poems, short stories, other forms of creative writing. They were mostly on a scrap sheet of paper so I had to over time type them on my laptop. I selected the ones I think readers would enjoy. I intend on self-releasing this compilation in the near future! My brother is working on the cover art at the moment. Frankly, and fortunately, I’ve lived a drama free life. I’ve never experienced tremendous heartbreak or experienced anything traumatic. Thematically, the pieces cover love, loss, war, disease, relationships, and so much more but through the eyes of the characters telling them.
What are some of your favorite films?
This question always takes the longest for me to answer! I tend to have a set few I say but always think of new ones when I’m asked again. I will say films like American History X and Crash made me realize you can change lives through cinema. From a storytelling perspective, I’ve always admired films like Pulp Fiction, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and the 2001 French film Amelie. I bring this up a lot but I’m a dialogue kind of guy and a class flick I think stands the test of time is His Girl Friday from 1940. I’m in love with its snappy, overlapping dialogue with spot-on delivery from the cast. On that same note, I enjoy Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise trilogy. Aaron Sorkin dialogue is rightfully acclaimed as is Tarantino’s. I also have an affinity for Edgar Wright films. And I don’t care how old I get, Up and Toy Story will always get me. I’m sure the next time I’m asked this I’ll have a lot more. On the bigger scale, the Planet of the Apes franchise is top notch. I don’t know anyone who didn’t like Wonder Woman or Get Out. In television, I’m a lifer for The Walking Dead. Can’t get enough of This Is Us. Black Mirror is something I aspire to create.
What are three “Good to Know” facts about you that no one knows?
A lot of people know this but it’s cool to say. I was featured in an interview in 2016 as “a top networker in Hollywood” by The Huffington Post. I would love to get into songwriting with musicians! I think I would do well with those in the singer-songwriter space. This is random but I have gotten addicted to creepypasta videos on YouTube. I love horror so it only makes sense.
Do you have any upcoming projects that we haven’t mentioned?
April 13th is my 3-year event anniversary so I think I’ll plan something for that. Stay tuned for details on my social media. Also, I am a big proponent of diversity and representation. I have a women in Hollywood event on February 10th at General Assembly in Santa Monica aptly titled Holly Would Talk.
Complete this sentence, if I had an opportunity to do anything in 2018 I want to do ___________.
Turn aspiring into inspiring. I hope to go from an “aspiring talent” to a talent that encourages those who are paying attention. I want to be part of more humanitarian efforts and travel more when and where possible.