How This Aspiring Screenwriter is Breaking into Hollywood…From the Inside Out by Erman Baradi
ERMAN BARADI SCREENWRITER AND FOUNDER AT THE REL/EVENT SERIES
Film Courage: Where did you grow up?
Erman Baradi: I was born and raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia. This is the epitome of suburban life. I think a magazine ranked it #1 one year as a city to raise a family. We are known for our oceanfront/boardwalk scene which draws a ton of tourists. It’s definitely a place you want to get out of when you grow up but you miss while you’re away. So, basically we’re known for beaches and Pharrell. I can say our entertainment scene is growing in music and film and television.
Film Courage: Which of your parents do you resemble most?
Erman: That’s hard to say because I believe I takes attributes from both. I have a twin brother and on a facial aspect he has our father’s traits and I take from my mom. But we all have this strong-willed audacity. It could be a Filipino thing. We’re so full of pride, and I don’t mean that in a bad way or to the point of stubbornness. It’s that “we’re going to do it till we make it” mentality.
Film Courage: Did your parents lend support toward creativity or encourage another type of career/focus?
Erman: Ladies and gentlemen, I’m going to tell you something shocking…yes, they did. As an Asian American you get the stereotype of being driven to pursue a career in medicine. That’s what I got when I was younger, but when I was a kid I thought I wanted it, too. I found it alluring to be “the man” and have patients look up to you. But when you grow up you understand life and mortality and well-being more and I was turned off from having to give answers to people with a smile on your face. How do go about telling people they’re not okay and then offer them lollipops on their way out? I even went to a high school who had a medical program. At this time, I found an interest in the entertainment world and when I was a senior I told my parents that I wanted to go to film school. They’d say no, right? Holy hell, it was simple as that. They rocked with it. You’d think it’d be harder but no, they were totally down. I was surprised. So, to this down whenever I have something going down in LA or NYC they’re all for it. Plus, they’re the ones who pushed us to get involved in the local Filipino community here, which help me stay rooted with my people.
Film Courage: Biggest takeaway from 4 years of college?
Erman: I won’t forget it. My very first course in my freshmen year at Regent University’s film school was Screenwriting and it was with my very professor ever. His name is Kevin Crawford and he’s the first person to ever tell me that I was good. It wasn’t in the way a teacher would tell all his students so they feel good about themselves. It was in the “dude, you have to pursue this” type of way. Seven years later we still chat through email. I just spoke to him the other day actually about my LA event and he said if he didn’t have a teacher summit or whatnot that he’d be tempted to buy a plane ticket. That’s sick. Honestly, my biggest takeaway from four years of college is — and this may upset people but it’s the harsh reality, especially in our major — you graduate after four years to own a single sheet of paper. Frankly, I don’t even know where mine is. I’m not going to lie and say I have all the answers or that “I made it.” However, I can say I went to Hollywood firsthand. All the things they teach you in school to pass a test is irrelevant compared to what you learn up close and personal. I network with agents and managers and publicists all day long and they’ve told me more than what any thirty-year-old textbook will tell you.
Film Courage: How old were you when you wrote your first short story, script, poem, etc?
Erman: It must have been between 13 to 15 years old, sometime in that time frame.
Film Courage: What prompted this first writing?
Erman: I tell people this from time to time. In middle school I wanted to take acting as an elective but since I didn’t see a lot of Asians on TV I kind of just dropped it. So, I started writing instead. I’d be in math class or science (I sucked at both) and I’d jot down quotes I came up in my head or plot points. Mind you I went to a magnet school with kids who were apparently a lot smarter than I was academically. I had to be good at something. By high school, I started winning all the monthly writing contests for the school’s magazine. Then, when I was in my sophomore year people started to take note of all my skits. In English class specifically we had skits all the time and everyone loved mine. Once, my English teacher, Ms. Schwartz, stopped the class after a presentation to tell my classmates to look out for me on TV one day. I think she said SNL. I can’t remember, but it was still epic. I wrote my first screenplay that year, devoting a lot of my nights after school to it. The story itself was pretty good but the writing was mediocre, of course. It was a “talky” film and it centered on characters in high school who were like Juno from Juno. That’s all I can remember!
Film Courage: What’s one thing you’d like to change about yourself?
Erman: I need to be more in the moment. I’ll be honest with you, if you’re talking about what I learned about myself, it’s very hard for me to simply hang out with people nowadays. And I don’t mean that in a cynical or “I’m better than everyone else” type of way. My Friday nights look like my Monday nights and that might be why I am where I am today. Think about it. Add up the time you hung out with friends or went to the beach or went to the club. That’s time I use accomplishing a task or if not, I’ll sit in my room staring at the ceiling and I could be like, “God, what’s my next move? How do you want me to get there?” So, I guess when I’m in private I’m just thinking about my next moves. Even when I do hang out with people that’s what I’m doing in case you find me oddly quiet and to myself or I’m on my emails, and I don’t do that to be disrespectful. Even when I’m on social media or surfing the web I consider it research. I’m never just wasting hours online. I’m finding out what’s buzzing or trending, who’s in, what’s tomorrow’s story, which artists/actors/writers/directors should I reach out to next, etc. I need to just let go and enjoy the moment for what it’s worth and not make everything about career.
Film Courage: What’s important in your life?
Erman: How cliché is this answer: family. I’m trying to get what’s mine, yes, but like a lot of other people I want to have the best career ever in order for my family not to worry anymore. I want that mansion for my parents. I want the endless travels and vacations because our time is so miniscule here. Why work your entire life and not enjoy what’s out there? The older you get, the shorter life gets.
Film Courage: What’s the best and worst job you’ve held?
Erman: Crazy thing. I’ve never had a “job” I didn’t appreciate because everything has been in line with a career in entertainment. I will say this though. I’ve never had a 9–5. I’ve never done food or retail, so I can’t tell you the horror stories my friends tell me. I did, however, have an office job at my college that allowed me to come in whenever I wanted for extra pay and I came up with my own hours. Let’s just say I was young and dumb. One day I worked there, and the next I didn’t. Let’s leave it at that. But I’m not knocking them. They were the kindest people ever. Yet, I’m glad I stopped working there because three months later began my journey to where I am four years later.
Virginia Beach-based Erman Baradi began his entertainment career in 2011. While attending Regent University, on a recommendation he was introduced to Grammy-nominated artist No Malice — formerly Malice of the acclaimed hip hop duo The Clipse alongside Pusha T (signed to Pharrell Williams’ Star Trek label). For the next fewyears, Erman has remained No Malice’s right hand man in endeavors ranging from music videos to vlogs and events.
After completing a West Hollywood internship with Mosaic Media Group/Atlas Entertainment, Erman returned to Virginia while strategically networkingwith writers and filmmakers via social media, landing him gigs with various screenwriting-centered organizations. Erman became the Director of Executive Relations for The Great American PitchFest, a screenwriting festival in which he helped to recruit attending film companies and agencies, including William Morris Endeavor, Paradigm, Fox Television Studios, Overbrook Entertainment, APA Talent & Literary Agency, The CW Network, Atlas Entertainment, Disruption Entertainment, Madhouse Entertainment, Sierra/Affinity, Phoenix Pictures, One Three Media, and over 120 other entertainment companies. Erman was recruited into the leading LA-based script consultancy ScreenCraft as reader of first round scripts for its frequent screenplay contests, which many outlets have noted to be the best in the industry. With them, he co-produced an entertainment panel event at the Writers Guild of America East called “Digital Discourse” in 2014 with speakers from Google/YouTube, Cinedigm, and more to discuss the future of media distribution and content creation pertinent to the future of filmmaking. The event was covered by Filmmaker Magazine and Indiewire. He also currently works for the International Screenwriters’ Association, a community dedicated to providing aspiring screenwriters resources and tools necessary to break into the business, acquiring industry interviews for its popular podcast. Additionally, he is a script reader for WWE Studios.
As an aspiring screenwriter and filmmaker, a short Erman co-wrote cracked the top 20 finals of legendary director Ron Howard’s Canon Imaginat10n 2013 contest. Today, Erman serves as a celebrity interviewer and writer for Vents Magazine and Endee Magazine, having interviewed over 200 directors, producers, screenwriters, reality stars, actors, and emerging and established music artists. Meanwhile, Erman is business partners with Emmy-nominated T.O.N.E.-z of the hit FX Network drama series ‘Justified’, who is the very first rapper nominated for the illustrious Main Theme Song award. You can catch Erman today producing the best up-and-coming Hollywood events. In the summer of 2015, Erman co-produced the inaugural Three Cities Festival, a one-of-a-kind digital film festival, taking place over a span of three different cities. The conference highligthed guest speakers representing projects like ‘House of Cards,’‘Straight Outta Compton,’ ‘Sons of Anarchy,’ ‘Big Hero 6,’ ‘The Walking Dead,’ ‘Breaking Bad,’‘American Horror Story,’ and more. In the fall of 2015, Erman is producing his second Hollywood event, “The Rel/event Series,” highlighting the industry’s most buzzed about individuals and projects in 2015–2016, with speakers from ‘Deadpool,’ ‘Gambit,’ ‘Fear the Walking Dead,’ ‘Suicide Squad,’ ‘Batman vs. Superman,’ ‘Supergirl,’ ‘The Flash,’ ‘Arrow,’ ‘Scream Queens,’ and ‘X-Men: Apocalypse,’ to name a few.
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