…How to develop characters in a script. It’s my first go at this and although it is inspired by my Dad’s life it’s not easy nailing a character’s persona and how you want them to come off. Stories are great but the layers you add on for each character is key to them being relatable or just falling flat.
As a part of our series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became A Filmmaker”, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Eric Diamond, a successful technology industry CEO who has now turned his focus on his love for film and began writing a script for a feature film. This first script was very close to his heart as it is inspired by his father Paul Diamond a 50-year veteran in the Men’s fashion industry. When he set out to create this script he searched for a co-writer within the industry and was introduced to Anthony Guilianti, a great writer, and immediately they clicked. They both come with a fresh perspective and a lot of passion and NY style.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit of the ‘backstory’ of how you grew up?
Thanks for having me. I am a 4th generation New Yorker and from a fashion family. My great grandfather came to this country from Eastern Europe as a men’s tailor and landed in NYC and established home in the Bronx. My grandfather carried on the traditions within the schemata biz but was a better seller then craftsman so he was able to find work in men’s retail. At one point he landed a sales job for the famous Barneys department store, which at that time was just a small discount store off of 7th Avenue. He made just enough to get by each week. My Father, an industry Rockstar, saw his father in retail and knew the real money was on the wholesale and manufacturing side, so he spent years cutting his teeth working for the suit manufactures. My dad had the “It” factor — the charm, likability, drive and skills that would ultimately make him a success. He led the sales charge for labels such as Givenchy and for the last 20 years of his life he was the President in the US for a Canadian clothing company, Jack Victor. He was responsible for making them into big, big players here in the US. As for my backstory, I loved the fashion thing but more from the sidelines. Early on I had a love/hate relationship with my dad because he was amazing when around but that was not so often. He divorced my mom when I was around 10 or 11. He was always away working and chasing after the ladies and she just at that point had enough. They remained friends as they had grown up together and had kids together. Everyone loved him as again he had that “It” factor and knew how to live, but I had to share way too much of him with his suits and friends. I was a computer nerd and although I tried working for him for the early part of my life and during high school summers worked at his buddies’ men’s retail stores, I eventually found my way to my love, technology. Me and some friends eventually went to NYU for Computer Science and off to the races into the dotcom universe we went. As I got a little older my dad would often take me on biz trips so we can hang out and I can meet all the players if I ever wanted back in the biz. I got to hang with a lot really interesting characters and saw him doing what he truly loved — selling lots of suits. And let’s not forget the fun parties with him in Las Vegas. Let’s just say I was exposed to things most kids would never be exposed to by their dads, lol. All fun and good but it took me some time build up an amazing friendship with my dad. I needed to mature and let go of the idea that he was supposed to be that at home for dinner every night kind of dad. My friends had dinners at 6:30pm with their families and he was out chasing women and working. Didn’t mean he loved me any less. He actually loved me a lot, so I needed to adjust my idea of the perfect “Dad” and how his antics and absence didn’t mean less love. It was just who he was, a free spirit who loved his work and all the women he met. So, I needed to accept who he was and what he was capable of in order to make peace with it. As I got a bit older, I was able to take that passion I saw in him and start my own digital marketing agency, Tribeca Digital. And although I broke the 4th generation fashion chain he was proud I was able to do what I love and find my way. My dad taught me how you have to live for work and work to live. If you love what you do it becomes who you are. And I have always carried that attitude with me.
As a side note, I wanted to just add that the Men’s tailored clothing industry has been dying for years now and with COVID, it’s a total absolute disaster. I am hoping that through my script that the film can bring attention to this amazing man who dedicated his life to it and spotlight a dying industry. Hopefully it will get people to see how throughout the decades men used to dress up and how that has become an ancient practice today. Yes, young people today, even on Zoom, would kill you to thrown on a sportscoat over that t-shirt. Dress for Success PEOPLE!!!
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
To be clear I am not a filmmaker, and this is my very first script. I never had intention on being a scriptwriter or filmmaker or storyteller and share my writing with the world. Especially something so near and dear to my heart. What made me jump into this crazy film industry was two things. One was to share a story inspired by my dad’s incredible life and hopefully get viewers to understand that behind all the fame and success is a person. A person with flaws and doubts and regrets and love just like you. That your parents are just people and they are not given some rule book when you’re born on how to be the best dad or mom. That their disfunctions or lack of something does not make them a terrible dad or mom. They are who they are and often times do not live up to expectations of their kids. This idea people have for the “perfect dad or mom” is what causes disappointment and often times friction. I hope my story can show a man who loved his work and tried to find the same level of love for his family and in the end was just a guy trying to get through life trying his best to serve two masters — his family and the suits he loved to sell.
The second reason I wrote this script was to highlight men’s tailored clothing through the years and show people today the amazing men’s suit styles through the years and get some support for an almost dead industry. Long live the man’s suit ☺
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your filmmaking career?
This is my first go at writing a script and found an amazing co-writer who I partnered with in Anthony Guilianti. What was I think was the funniest was talking to some of my dad’s old friends and hearing the crazy stories. You will have to read the script for the funny and crazy stories lol.
Also — It was really a trip to share some of the wild stories with my co-writer Anthony and hear him crack up to the stories. I am pretty sure he has a more traditional dad ☺
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
Over the years I have met some really interesting Athletes and Celebs, from famous Yankee pitchers to iconic Giants players to fashion Icons to actors and prominent business figures. Here is a random very LA story for you lol. Growing up my stepmom was one of Debbie Reynolds step kids (the step-kid no one ever spoke of) and on one occasion I hung out with Debbie and her dear friend and actor/comedian Rip Taylor. We went for dinner and Debbie and Rip both seemed a bit tipsy. Rip was wearing a wig and in the process of telling some funny story and being very animated somehow got his wig caught on the waiter’s jacket sleeve button and it ripped off as he walked by. The waiter jumped and screamed “holy shit” and Rip grabbed his head lol. But wow he was scary looking with what looked like a stocking on his head and a face full of makeup lol. He laughed and we all laughed and he handled the situation with grace but it’s a moment I will never forget.
I also had the pleasure of briefly meeting Melinda Gates while my company was doing a big project with Scholastic and The Gates Foundation called “You Are What You Read,” a service that allowed users to list the five books that had the biggest impact on their lives and connect with readers all over the world. Mrs. Gates has an amazing presence (even on a video call) and so, so smart. She is someone I admire and someone my daughter aspires to be like.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My father always helped me with business decisions and was my sounding board when I needed a real and often times hard answer. Even today he helps as it is his life that inspired my script. My wife is also a rock for me. Without her support I would not have started my business. When we first started dating, I had a great solid job and when we first got married, I decided to risk everything and start my own business. She could have been very against this risky move, but she backed my decision to start Tribeca Digital in every way and has been by my side through the years through all the ups and downs.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My dad always preached to me “make good friends in this life because you can’t do it alone”. He meant personally and professionally. I think this relates really well at a time like now with Covid. We all need to lean on friends to keep our spirits up and stay sane and with professional friends lean on them to help our businesses from drowning in such bad economic times.
I am very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
Every culture has its humor and its drama that plays out at on a global scale, within neighborhoods and even down to your street. Film’s such as “Do The Right Thing” or “Colors” (going way back lol) or foreign films like White Tiger and even reality shows like Shas of Sunset show off how particular cultures or groups of people live. My script is about a Jewish kid growing up in the Bronx and becoming a Garmento. People need to see how others have lived and experience their joys, pains and situations. I think more so than ever it is the duty of people and parents to their kids to learn and appreciate/respect other cultures. Laugh with them, and cry, and understand the why. Films give us that window into how different cultures, neighborhoods and people live and hopefully shed some light or draw some parallels for viewers to relate to their lives. For example, I think someone in a small town middle America only exposed to their local environment should expose themselves to other cultures and watch a movie like “White Tiger” or “We are the Brooklyn Saints” on Netflix. People should step outside themselves and learn and appreciate others and how they live. Through storytelling (films) we get to see and hopefully learn to appreciate how others live and at times struggle. I hope it gets people thinking — Why do some people do x? What common struggles or love for things can I share with other people in the world? People certainly have enough time in this Covid lockdown to watch, learn and expand their minds.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
On the script front of course, my goal is to get The Gorilla Group: A Garmento’s Story made into a movie. I did recently start writing up a concept for a fun new series I title “Gone Public”. It’s about an interesting really smart woman (Sam) and her quirky team who built a great tech startup and the pilot starts off the day they go Public. Think Big Bang Theory vibe combined with edginess of Billions.
But in the tech world where I spend most of my time it’s all about this new awesome marketing platform my team launched called PushSend, a combination of email & event marketing into one platform aimed at SMBs.
Which aspect of your work makes you most proud? Can you explain or give a story?
With my script, being able to get the words on paper and share my story. I want people to watch this movie and get out of it what I intended. To see the amazing beauty of men’s suits through the years and spark a new love for men to get dressed up (post Covid). I also want viewers to see the main character, regardless of all the fun and success, he was a man who had his struggles and viewers can relate to his struggles. If I can get people to watch this movie and have fun seeing the men’s suit fashions through the years and also relate to aspects of this Garmento from the Bronx then it’s a WIN, WIN.
Also, I have to say, when it comes to my tech projects it’s been my daughter seeing my hard work pay off. We built a great video streaming service for Sesame Workshop and my daughter was our top beta tester. She saw the app go from start to launch and she was one of many young kids that used the app to watch a lot of the Sesame Street’s online shows. Was awesome to see her use what we built!
But just like with my tech products and services creating a story from start to launch for others to consume and enjoy is a great joy for me. I just want to see it made into a movie to complete my goal. People have ideas all the time but executing and following through is really hard. Life has distractions and twists and turns and so many obstacles to get in your way of success. Stay focused on the end goal and you will get there. I will be most proud when I see this script on the big screen ☺
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- How to develop characters in a script. It’s my first go at this and although it is inspired by my Dad’s life it’s not easy nailing a character’s persona and how you want them to come off. Stories are great but the layers you add on for each character is key to them being relatable or just falling flat.
- It is so, so hard to get anyone’s attention to read your script. I started my company over 10 years ago and understand selling and pitching and being creative to win people over, but this film industry is tough nut to crack, lol.
- Your script is not the final version by any means. We wrote and wrote and really tried to get everything in, but as I learn whoever does pick up the script will most likely re-write a lot of it (hopefully for the good)
- Everyone you ask to read will have opinions and you need to not take anything personal and be willing to listen to negative comments.
- Marketing my script. I know digital marketing well and have done for many, many companies, but marketing a new film script is new to me. It was a steep learning curve to understand to whom to market to and how.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Kids Startup Nation — Kids of all races, cultures and economic status can participate for free in an adult supervised video chat setting to learn how to take their ideas and work as a group to launch them and watch them grow or fail. From collaborating on ideas to learning how products are made to learning the universal language of coding to make digital ideas come to life. Imagine kids from America teaming up with kids in Africa and the Middle East or Ukraine. Understanding and change starts with the kids and if they grow up working together on common goals and ideas it makes the world a better place.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
I am such a big fan of Spike Lee and what he has meant to New York and his ability to tell a story. He would be perfect to produce and direct my script. He gets the NY Garmento thing for sure and is amazing at developing characters and visually telling a story.
I am also a big, big fan of Ashton Kutcher as he successfully was able to cross over from acting into the business world and today has a great venture capital fund. I would love to pick his brain and see how he has successfully balances the film and biz world.
I also love Karyn Kusama’s work and she happens to be a native NYer ☺. I feel like she could do wonders with my script.
How can our readers further follow you online?
Find me on instagram @ 8kdiamond or on linkedin @ https://www.linkedin.com/in/emdiamond/
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!