Erman Baradi (center in photo above), is the founder of “Ermantourage”, which hosts an impressive slate of Hollywood networking events. He is also co-founder of “The Film Empire”, an industry mentorship and social group. We recently asked Erman about networking and mentoring in Hollywood, a town built on relationships. He was kind of enough to answer a few questions for our readers…
Tell us your Story, Erman. How did you get involved in hosting high-end entertainment-industry networking events?
I didn’t always live in Los Angeles, so for me early on it was about strategizing how to get connected to the scene before getting there. I was born and raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia, across the country from LA. After my Hollywood internship in 2012, I took on a gig interviewing for a digital magazine. During this time, I was purposely accumulating contacts with agents, managers, publicists, entertainment lawyers, at the same time having my hand in various entertainment conferences and events. At some point I thought to myself, “As someone who wants to write and produce, how can I push my own career forward while helping others along the way? And how can I get the attention of big players in Hollywood?” Without any training whatsoever, I started throwing film and music events. Altogether we’ve had over 400 speakers in film, television, and music in LA, NYC, Chicago, Miami, Virginia, London, Toronto, and soon touching Sydney. I started off producing and hosting music showcases in Virginia, so that party atmosphere was something I was going to utilize in all my events. It was that “just do it” attitude, flying out when I could to grow these connections. It was this big snowball effect from the beginning. I had spents years developing a platform and a following, making a name for myself. From there, it was getting interviews like this. These interviews helped me lock in lineups because you can easily look me up and see I’m not just some “dude”. Solidifying my personal brand is what helps me open doors to other areas. Without major sponsors or budgets, I went for the big names and the big projects. I wasn’t going to settle for less. I get testimonials from time to time about folks meeting a collaborator, or interacting with an executive or other guest speakers, and some have landed representation or jobs out of it. What’s in it for me is I have this vast network of people in the industry who I intend on working with. It’s a ten year plan I set from the get go and I’m not changing it. I’m in it for the long haul so I’m about cultivating relationships. I’m starting to develop projects with certain individuals, and while I can’t say what or who right now just know they should be epic things.
Additionally, I co-founded The Film Empire with my colleague Brandon. Through that, we put on not just events but also interviews and Hollywood mentorship contests. We’ve done diversity film and screenwriting contests, a composer contest, a cinematography contest, a television writing contest, an all-female contest, and more. The part about helping others along the way? We’re looking for a new generation of talents to break in. We have had mentors from Marvel, Warner Bros., Sony, HBO, “Stranger Things,” “This Is Us,” “Black Mirror,” “Game of Thrones,” “The Walking Dead”…so when you have these folks in your network, of course we are going to cultivate relationships with them, too, to eventually collaborate. I love how we have a grass roots approach to everything. We’re like the little engine that could. We aren’t like The Hollywood Reporter or Variety but still manage to get the biggest lineups possible thanks to our networking.
Tell us more about Ermantourage. Are your events open to anyone in the industry?
So, Ermantourage was the very first concept I had but it was something I couldn’t rush into because of the resources needed. The event series I’ve had over the years have led to it in a way. There were different incarnations. Eventually, I had co-created The Rel/event, which was my first huge one. Then, I co-founded MixKnowledgy (mixer-forum fusion events) with Brandon (in addition to The Film Empire). What I do with Ermantourage is my endeavors attach and highlight a cause or foundation. It is still fairly new and nothing is without its growing pains, but I’m having fun with it. It’s cool to have my name in a title. It’s a play on words and it goes well with the Hollywood crowd. Recently, the entertainment industry Q&A’s have been to support the LA chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Established in 1987, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is a voluntary health organization that gives those affected by suicide a nationwide community empowered by research, education and advocacy to take action against this leading cause of death. The guest speakers were drawn to supporting the cause so we’ve been blessed with amazing industry names.
My mantra is “cultivating creative and conscious.” When my career truly takes off and I’m creating content, the whole purpose of me pursuing an entertainment career in the first place is to utilize my platform for good. Entertainment is influential and we digest information quicker than the news. We hear a new song faster than we know about a social issue on the other side of the world. We wake up and hop on Facebook and Instagram before anything else and that is where we get our news. So, I would love my entertainment career to be one that moves people and incites action. I want to start charities or foundations and use my voice to better the world. I hope to bridge entertainment and humanitarian efforts.
Yes, everyone is welcome to the events of all the brands, whether you are established or are looking to get connected. Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll have some sort of Erman Con that focuses on film and music and social causes. Definitely look out for merchandise at some point.
What else are you currently working on? What are your personal career goals moving forward when it comes to your work in pushing for diversity?
As mentioned earlier, there are a few projects in very early development I can’t talk about but give me some time and they may materialize! I do have management now as a writer. There was an attendee of ours who eventually became a friend, and after being inspired by the events he launched a boutique management company called Emagine Content. I am one of the few writing clients. Things are really moving along behind the scenes for them, and the ideas they have are coming into fruition, so intrigued to see what kind of impact they will have. I am Filipino American so a big focus of mine is being a strong minority voice. I love how the Asian community came together around the release of “Crazy Rich Asians.” There is definitely an audience for us. At the same time I don’t want to be known just as a good Asian writer. I want to be a good writer who happens to be Asian. My aim isn’t to focus just on who I am racially. I won’t say, “I’m Asian, now give me work.” For me, I would like to just do good work and have people notice it. I’m also Christian. That market tends to put out hokey material to be honest. The content I intend on putting out is gritty and provocative, yet still have Christian themes like redemption.
I’m writing a book of creative pieces that I intend on finishing sometime soon! I am opening to writing scripts for anyone interested in collaborating. I’m all about creating art together. We are launching even more contests with really big names so be on the look out with that. The Film Empire has back to back events this October in the heart of Hollywood on Thursday, October 25th, and Friday, October 26th. So, be sure to follow The Film Empire for updates for new mentorship contests as well! Ermantourage is hosting our next “Panel with a Purpose” event for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention on Saturday, September 22nd. Visit panelwithapurpose2.eventbrite.com for more information.
I am also proud to announce I will be hosting events to benefit Fuck Cancer, a non-profit in the United States and a registered Canadian charity dedicated to prevention, early detection and providing emotional support and guidance to those affected by cancer.
Outside of all that, I strive to be a Renaissance man of sorts and not just be involved in the arts. I have a year left to be eligible for Forbes 30 Under 30, so fingers crossed! I’m looking to impact the world and inspire people through various avenues. Find me on social media at @Erman_LA and we are launching ermantourage.com soon for original content and blogs!