We had the good fortune of connecting with Eric Gaunaurd and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Eric, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I think being a risk taker is the most important attribute an entrepreneur can have. It’s usually what gives us the most anxiety. Stepping out of our comfort zone, putting financial stability on the line and perhaps more than that, in the pursuit of something you feel will move your company forward. But as all successful entrepreneurs can tell you, they wouldn’t be where they are today if they hadn’t taken a risk. Research, careful planning and a detailed, thorough plan are my requirements to taking calculated risks with Paradiso Pictures. Taking risks are a necessity for my business. The creation of my business was a huge risk. In my late 30’s I decided to leave a comfortable career outside of entertainment to pursue my goals of producing content for film and television. I had three young children and my wife was a high school teacher. With her blessing I took a deep plunge into learning how to navigate this new industry, volunteering on sets and speaking to whomever I could. Within a short time I was producing for other companies. In 2013, I decided to open my company and focus on my long term goals, making tv shows and films. Since then, I have produced two feature films, 3 television series and 3 pilots, and will be producing a feature for Disney + in 2021. But it all came as a result of having belief in the risk I was taking.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Here at Paradiso Pictures we produce films and television series, as well as produce branded content & commercials for networks and advertising agencies. My career arc is unique, in that I didn’t have relationships or contacts in the entertainment industry when I began. But what I did have was a strong management background, and an intense desire to create content. I’ve had to grind for anything I’ve achieved, but more importantly, I’ve had some small measure of success because of the folks I surround myself with. I always say, if you assemble your team and feel you’re the smartest person in the room, you haven’t hired well. Important to surround yourself with people you trust, who share your values as a company. Speaking of company, from a production services standpoint, I believe what sets us apart from everyone else are two things: the level of efficiency in which we produce, and the respect we give our clients, crew and talent. We’re sticklers on respect. Treating everyone with respect builds trust and relationships, which leads to growth and success. That respect has also been earned by the way we manage our productions. My biggest pet peeve is waste and inefficiency. We’re very good at maximizing the value of a budget, ensuring we determine where best to spend the money on each production, where we’ll see it most on the screen. We’ve had many challenges, as our industry continues to evolve at breakneck speed, forcing us to adjust to our clients needs. Beyond their needs, the viewers taste is always changing as well, which forces us to adapt the type of content we are developing and type of intellectual property we purchase to produce. But in the end, we’re always focused on finding great stories that move, entertain and inspire our audience. Being Cuban American, its very important to me that I produce stories with diverse characters relate to, and stories with universal themes that have the potential to reach a global audience. We’re producing a film for Disney + where the main characters are three generations of Cuban women who are cursed by love and the ocean. We’re producing a TV series very similar to the DaVinci code, where our protagonist is a teenage Cuban American. We’re developing a limited series on Operation Pedro Pan. We’re also developing a show where a rich, entitled kid from Boston enlists in a student exchange program and moves in with a Cuban family in Miami and their son, a finicky academic. This is just a few of the projects we’re developing, and diversity is at the center of them all. But to sum up, the most important lesson I’ve learned through this journey is no matter who you’re dealing with, whether it’s the president of a network or the assistant to a literary agent, treat everyone with respect & kindness, and bring positivity and optimism to everything you do. Life’s too short to live any other way!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Miami is such an interesting area, with so many diverse neighborhoods. I would first take them to Coral Gables, the beautiful jewel of South Florida. Drive down Granada Boulevard, admiring all the gorgeous real estate, then head to Threefold cafe for a delicious breakfast. You can’t go wrong at Perry’s for the best pork chop in town, or Graziano’s for their steaks. You can also head to the MesaMar or Redfish for delicious seafood. So many options… I would recommend hitting Oleta State Park early in the am for some biking on their multiple trails or kayaking through the mangroves. Another beautiful area to explore on bike the trails that lead down Old Cutler road through Coconut Grove. Coconut Grove is a picturesque village in the City of Miami, where bohemian meets modern. From there you can hit the Wynwood area, once a small artist conclave, which has grown to house some of the top artists and creative agencies in the country. My favorite dive for great food and drinks in this area is Beaker & Gray. Their short rib and octopus are fantastic! Lastly, if you’re visiting Miami, you need to spend some time on South Beach, where you’ll find some of the top restaurants in Miami and one of the most celebrated beaches in the world. Clubs and bars litter Ocean Drive, where people watching is an experience to behold.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The folks at Viacom International have been such a huge champion for my company, and were instrumental in giving us our first opportunity to produce a television series. They believed in my vision, my production model for their network, and they supported me every step of the way. Gigi Gomez, Miriam Luciow, Claudia Selgas, Carla Gomez, Alex Kaed, and JC Acosta, the president of Viacom International Studios, Latam were the people that allowed me to be myself, and in turn, we have shared tremendous success together. I will be forever grateful for them taking a risk on Paradiso! Lastly, my wife and kids, who support and tolerate my absences when we’re filming. I’ve succeeded because of their support.
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