To make it in Hollywood you have to have connections. Anyone with a script or a reel or a head shot knows that breaking into this multi-billion dollar industry isn’t as easy as sending in a resume and waiting for an interview. There is a hustle and a hunger that job seekers need to have to make it in the entertainment world. That and some serious networking game.
I had the chance to talk with Erman Baradi, Co-Founder (along with Emily Guglielmo) of The Rel/Event Series which brings heavy hitters from all corners of the movie and television industry together to share their knowledge and time with those that want to learn. Baradi himself is an aspiring screenwriter from the East coast who learned early on that being in Virginia was going to make it tough to break into the business. After attending other panels and events he decided to take matters into his own hands and build the type of event that he knew would really help people.
“I had gone to other events and the panelists would talk, give advice and after that, they were gone,” added Baradi. His idea was to create events where people could interact with the speakers in a more intimate and conversational setting. With this idea for The Rel/Event Series, Baradi started contacting potential contributors and putting together his own network of West coast talent . In October of 2015, he partnered with co-producers Emily Guglielmo, Monica Yates, and Eric Bryan Stone (who provided the venues and had experience with venues in the past) for their first event in Los Angeles, with nearly 300 attendees and a handful of agents, producers and directors from popular franchises (American Horror Story), current hits (Jane the Virgin) and upcoming films (Deadpool). Since 2015, Erman and Emily have worked diligently at this and love doing what they do. They work amazing together and are a wonderful partnership as well as friends.
Following on the success of Part I, Baradi has added to his team and is now ready for The Rel/Event Series Part II, named to give the event a movie sequel feel. With the entertainment industry now popping up all over the country, I talked to Erman about the idea of growth and other locations for his event. “The venue is definitely bigger this time and at some point, I do want to grow. I would like to get to the point where these events are in convention centers but for now, I would rather have 200 people who really want to learn something over 1,000 people who are just there to just see someone famous.” His goal for the future is to do two events in L.A. per year and maybe, down the road, try events in Canada, New York or wherever there are active production communities.
Erman’s work ethic is admirable and his ability to pull together so many professionals speaks to his commitment to this project. “I just start from scratch,” he said. “I look at what is buzzing in the industry and start reaching out to people through industry resources and keep trying until I get results.” Like anyone in Hollywood, he builds his list from names from his previous contacts and goes from there. “Once I got through to Tommy Harper who is COO of Bad Robot and worked on Star Wars, and had him on board, it was great to be able to use his name with others who were then interested in working with him and hearing advice he might have. The great thing about this event is the diversity of the line-up. Everyone has something to teach or share. Even the audience is full of agents and industry people. You never know who you might be sitting next to.”
The Rel/Event Series Part II takes place on Friday, April 8th at Globe Theater in Downtown Los Angeles. Ticket packages are available online and include admission to an after-party immediately following the event with the speakers. For more information, updated lineup, and to purchase tickets, visit TheReleventII.eventbrite.com and TheReleventSeries.com today! Follow them on Twitter at @TheRelevent_LA and on Instagram at @The_Relevent.
Film & TV Production (Moderated by Max Timm, Director of Community and Outreach at International Screenwriters’ Association) :
-Tommy Harper, COO of Bad Robot, Executive Producer, “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens,” “Star Trek into Darkness,” “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”
-James Skotchdopole, Producer, “The Revenant,” “Birdman,” Brad Pitt’s “War Machine,” Executive Producer, “Django Unchained”
-Alex Ott, Co-Producer, “Suicide Squad”
-Kevin Clark, Executive Director, Association of Film Commissioners International
-Patrice Avery, Head of Studio/Producer at Halon Entertainment, “Jurassic World,” “Avatar,” “Hunger Games: Mocking Jay 1&2,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Ghostbusters” 2016
-Adi Shankar, Film/Digital Producer, Bootleg Universe, “Power/Rangers” short, “The Grey,” “Killing Them Softly”
Screenwriters (Moderated by Jen Grisanti of Jen Grisanti Consultancy):
-Doug Jung, Screenwriter, “Star Trek Beyond”
-Alan Wenkus, Academy Award-nominated Co-Executive Producer/Writer, “Straight Outta Compton”
-Joshua Allen, Story Editor, “Empire”
-Stephany Folsom, Screenwriter, “1969 A Space Odyssey,” “Thor: Ragnarok”
-Frankie Lindquist, Literary Manager/Producer, Scooty Woop Elite
-Jason Seagraves, VP of Production & Development, Cross Creek Pictures (“Black Mass,” “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” “Black Swan”)
Talent Representation (Moderated by Laura Prudom, News Editor at Variety Magazine):
-Joanne Horowitz, Manager (Kevin Spacey, Scott Eastwood)
-Ashwant Venkatram, Lawyer, PeopleTree Legal
-Miles Cooley, Partner, Reed Smith LLP (clients have included Rihanna, Jay Z, 50 Cent)
-Carol Bodie, Manager, Art2Perform (Ruby Rose)
-Darren Boghosian, agent, United Talent Agency
-Brittany Bell, publicist, Rogers & Cowan (clients have included Big Sean, O’Shea Jackson, Jr.)
Casting Directors (Moderated by Diane Gordon, freelance reporter, Variety, NY Mag, Vulture) :
-Gohar Gazazyan, Casting Director, “The Walking Dead,” “Gotham,” “Halt and Catch Fire”
-Kerry Barden, Casting Director, “Jessica Jones,” “Spotlight,” “Sisters,” “Pitch Perfect 2,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Monster’s Ball”
-Jackie Sollitto, Casting Associate at David Rapaport Casting, “The Flash,” “Supergirl,” “Arrow”
-Carla Hool, Casting Director, Netflix’s “Narcos,” “Eastbound & Down” season 2, “Despicable Me 2”
-Marci Liroff, Casting Director, “E.T.,” “Blade Runner,” “Mean Girls,” “Footloose,” “Pretty in Pink”
Talents to Watch (Moderated by Jennifer Buonantony of Press Pass LA) :
-Rebecca Reid, Actress/Comedian, “New Girl,” “I Live with Models”
-Jazmyn Simon, Actress, “Ballers”
-Jerry Purpdrank, Viner, Digital Influencer
-Stephen Rider, Actor, “Daredevil” Season 2
*Featured image Photo Credit: Christopher Jackson Photography