How did you get started in advertising? What's been your career road map?
I started off as an assistant producer at Chiat Day N.Y. when they first opened their doors. Soon after, I was producing for the agency. Three years went by, and I left to freelance (there weren’t that many freelance producers in the market at that time) and worked for Ammirati Puris on BMW. Three years after that, I moved to Los Angeles and began producing for production companies and their directors. Eighteen months later, I opened up the West Coast office of my partner’s production company. We built that company into what it is today: RadicalMedia, LLC.
And how has the industry changed since you’ve been involved?
When I started in advertising, television, print and radio were the main ways to reach the consumer. My parents were grateful to advertisers as they brought entertainment into our living room. Since then, we’ve had to adjust from strictly doing commercials, print, and radio. While those three still exist, we’ve all had to learn and embrace additional ways to reach the consumer. Branded content and digital storytelling, live events, memes, etc. We also work with brands who’ve begun to incorporate VR, AR, and experiential media into their storytelling as well, and I think we’ll start seeing more of that as time goes on. It’s still about the storytelling, just using different methods.
What’s an important lesson you’ve learned so far?
Be nice to everyone. Today’s assistant could be tomorrow’s creative director. Secondly, don’t be afraid of change. Embrace it and dive in head first.
What keeps you motivated? Do you have a personal motto?
My goal in life is to wake up everyday and still want to go to work. I’ve succeeded so far. I also try to live by Radical’s motto, which is "Never Established." Things are always changing, and it’s important to adapt to the times. If you want longevity, you have to be able to do it all: feature films, episodic scripted and unscripted television, advertising, experiential, public events, smartphone applications... the list goes on.
What excites you most about this industry?
The people, creativity, and the fact that it’s ever-changing. Everyday I learn something new.
Photos: Don Lupo
Where is the entertainment industry headed? What do the next 5 years look like?
As I mentioned, it will always be about storytelling and finding an audience for those stories. Five years from now, streaming services will be even more prevalent than they are today. Network TV will still be there, albeit they will be looking for additional revenue streams from advertisers and cable/satellite companies.
What advice do you have for those just starting out in entertainment?
I have a few pieces of advice for those just starting out in the business.
One: Be the first one to show up and the last one to leave. It’s a bit cliché, but you have to make it known that you want to be there and you want to learn. Two: Ask lots and lots of questions, and don’t be afraid to not know the answer. The worst is pretending to know, when you really don’t. Third: Watch, listen, and get your hands dirty. Be open to trying new things and taking a different path. You never know where something can lead you. And lastly, step out of your comfort zone.
We are in the middle of a cultural shift with the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. What has/does Radical do to support women and inclusion in the industry?
RadicalMedia not only has a diverse staff, but a diverse roster of directors. As I like to say, we have directors that happen to be female, not female directors. We want everyone to feel like they’re working in a safe environment, always. That’s not up for debate.
Why are you involved with ThinkLA?
I enjoy working with the varied and interesting people on the board. It combines media, creativity, public relations, etc., in one place, kind of how ad agencies used to operate. And not to be cliché, but it’s rewarding to give back to an industry that has treated me very well over the years.
At the end of the day, I love what I do, and I think that’s the most important thing of all.
Frank Sherma is a ThinkLA Board Member and President of RadicalMedia, a multi-disciplinary studio that creates some of the world’s most innovative content across all forms of media. RadicalMedia has been honored with an Academy Award®, Emmys®, a Golden Globe®, Grammys®, Webbys, NASA Awards, The Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Communication Design, two Palme d’Ors at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, and just about every other accolade and trophy associated with the advertising, marketing, and programming businesses.