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You’ve Been Scouted, Syracuse!

Executive movie producer, Ted Farnsworth came home to central New York and brought the movie industry with him. It brings jobs and revenue to our city. It brings value and depth to our city’s culture. And for right now, he brings with it a brand-new, worldwide, major league talent search production to rival shows like the Voice.

Farnsworth is a man who bases his success on hard work, the value of family, persistence and giving back to the community – which is an important part of his choice to bring his operation to Syracuse.

He and his team at ZASH Global are unleashing “You’ve Been Scouted,” this month right here, from ground-zero Syracuse. It’s a worldwide talent search – the outcome of which is decided entirely by fans. The program and production involves the mega-producer and Grammy® Award winner Teddy Riley who has worked with iconic artists such as Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, Pharrell, and BTS. You’ve Been Scouted is a user generated campaign in search of the world’s greatest talent.

Mr. Farnsworth was gracious to take some time with me for a chat.

Chuck Schiele: Thank you, Ted, so much, for being with us here, today.

Ted Farnsworth: Thank you, Chuck. I’m happy to be here.

CS: There are a lot of places in the world from which one chooses to plant their tree. What attracted – and thus, brought you to Syracuse?

TF: I grew up in upstate New York in the Adirondacks and my whole family is from CNY area; Little Falls, Ilion, Herkimer, Baldwinsville, Liverpool and surrounding areas. I felt it would be great to come back and give back to the community and area that gave so much to me growing up.

CS: Cool. Please share with the folks of Syracuse how you came to having ZASH located here in CNY. Why at The Hub?

TF: Being an Executive Producer in Hollywood, has allowed me to take advantage
of my connections and bring those same connections to Syracuse in regards to film, movies, TV shows, reality and TV shows, as well as editing in post-production facilities. I started looking at The Hub in Syracuse about a year and a half ago and realized it was a state-of-the-art movie production facility and that’s when I decided to make a play to acquire the studio. Also, it’s one of the best soundstages in all of New York not to mention just upstate New York.

When I came up with the name ZASH, it actually was sitting in my office at the movie studio at The Hub…so truly that inception was born in Syracuse, New York.

CS: …an inspiring city, indeed…

TF: Now with the acquisition of Lomotif, we are established as one of the largest video platforms that competes with TikTok. Our partnership based out of Singapore will also be doing many kinds of live shows, that will be shown all over the world. ZASH is an umbrella which many organizations will fall under, and I find it really cool from that this whole concept was created and formed right here at Syracuse.

CS: Now that ZASH has offices here in CNY, what do you have to say to the people here about what you are bringing to the scope of our city and its culture?

TF: When I first started bringing Hollywood producers here to look at Syracuse for movie production, I was shocked how many people have never even been to Syracuse! Growing up in the area, I just knew that this was a very diverse community with all kinds of great cultural and architectural buildings from all different time periods.

CS: Syracuse offers wonderful architectural treasures.

TF: This architectural element would blend well in the movie and TV business for live sets.

CS: Yeah, I can see that.

TF: For instance, most people wouldn’t realize that there are parts of downtown Syracuse that look like Chelsea or Soho in New York City, and it literally would be 20% of the cost to film here as opposed to the middle of NYC! We have already done local production and created jobs in this area as well as Rochester to the tune of approximately 42 full-time positions, as well as around 150 part-time jobs during times of production. I know that will continue to grow especially on the post-production side.

CS: That’s very exciting. So, what’s in it for our fair city of Syracuse?

TF: I also believe with the vision we have for ZASH, we’ll put Syracuse on the map with movie and soundstage production.

CS: That sounds pretty badass. It sure would be good for the area.

TF: Our state-of-the-art facility will draw different production companies from Toronto, Miami, Atlanta, New York City as well as from Hollywood, Ca, Asian production companies out of Singapore and Hong Kong. To me that is so exciting to what we bring to Syracuse! Do you know what I was most impressed with in regards to Syracuse…was how Onondaga County from day one has been super supportive of anything we bring to the area. We’ve been extremely appreciative for the working relationship with the Onondaga County Executive, Ryan McMahon, as well as with the film commissioner Eric Vinal who has been outstanding and helping us along the way, navigating through the different parts of Upstate New York and Central New York.

CS: It’s pretty fair to say that you’re successful. To what do you attribute your success?

TF: I would say that it is fair to say that I have been very successful, but through that I have also had very big failures.

CS: It’s part of any worthwhile endeavor, right?

TF: I’m a big believer that you learn way more from your failures than you do from your successes. The lesson is how do you take those failures in business, and then turn them into successes in the future? I also believe as you get older you look at success in many different ways…not just in monetization which I have been extremely blessed over my life and done extremely well. But it also comes with a lot of hard work, a lot of hours and a lot of risk! Where I attribute my success to is the people around me.

CS: Amen! Amen! Amen!

TF: I have an incredible team that are way smarter than I am. I’ve had some of the greatest entrepreneurs in the world as part of my mentorship, and I just remember a lot of them saying, “Surround yourself with smart people,” that really is a big part of it, also it’s so important for family to support you no matter what your options are. Whether you’re riding high or low, surround yourself with people that will always be there for you, as well as your close friends. Having longtime employees and associates, that to me demonstrates success. Recently my personal assistant retired after 39 years. I am grateful and have a lot of pride that someone would work with me for 39 years (laughs).

CS: It certainly says a lot about you that your team is so loyal. I’m not going to go into it, but, this resonnates deeply with me. Thank you, Ted, for sharing that. Tell us about
“You’ve Been Scouted!” It sounds like fun. It sounds big.

TF: When I came up with the concept and created, “You’ve Been Scouted,” it was really a concept of looking at The Mask Singer, American Idol and The Voice. The Mask Singer I love because of the mystery…not knowing who it was behind the mask so that’s where I came up with the concept of You’ve Been Scouted, where we use the Lomotif platform from around the world to find talent that can sing, but they don’t know who is scouting them and who is looking to have done so. It’s a whole mystery of what’s going on behind the scenes and then I look at American Idol, and how many stars they’ve created – just from the US. So now we are taking on our competition and finding talent from around the world. I like the fact that we’ve created the only competition, where fans actually decide who the next rockstar will be. It’s not left up to the judges, that’s really cool because it puts the power into the people’s hands.

CS: What interested you in aquiring Lomitif?

TF: Lomotif was really the type of company I was looking for to compete with TikTok. The whole short form video and user generated content (UCG) space is exploding. I believe that’s where the whole world is going in regards to the media and entertainment space. Whether it’s finding talent through singing, dancing or acting, the UCG space is where it’s all going to be done in the future. Lomotif was the top of my list for acquisition, and I felt that it would be a great asset to ZASH. This merger positions us in the world as a total disruptor in the media and entertainment space.

CS: What are the prime qualities that “You’ve Been Scouted” is looking for?

TF: The qualities we’re looking for with “You’ve Been Scouted” is a really great singing voice. Playing an instrumental is a bonus…but really it is one of the only competitions where fans from around the world can vote on who will be the next rockstar. It is exciting to me, not knowing exactly where this will end up! It’s not necessarily who I like as a singer or who someone else likes as a singer…it’s up to the fans from around the world to decide. To think the winner could be a child from India, Brazil, the US, Hong Kong and we would never know this without having this hosted on the Lomotif platform.

CS: Nutshell: How does it work?

TF: To enter the competition you upload the Lomotif app from your phone, then go to the You’ve Been Scouted section. Lomotif works just like TikTok. You create your videos, upload and share them on the app. It’s very social but we have patented technology for editing tools that have become very popular. LoMo has done hundreds of millions of installs around the world which is mind boggling to me of the numbers. But it really is for sharing in all different parts of the world whether it’s for; recipes, singing, dancing, theater, drawing, painting…it’s amazing to sit there and watch the talent from around the world on the platform. Lomotif’s biggest highlight is a patented tool that allows creators to edit and stitch together multiple clips.

CS: Where does one see the “You’ve Been Scouted” performances?

TF: From the Lomotif app, “You’ve Been Scouted” has a leader page where you’ll be able to go to this section and see the people that are in the lead for winning the contest. Then you’ll be able to follow them and vote for them etc. as well as be able to watch future performances of what they do, and we will always keep you posted on how they progress.

CS: Do you play music?

TF: I don’t play any musical instruments. I wish that I took up one as a child, but I never did. I do however love all kinds of music. My favorite to listen to is EDM (electronic dance music), country, as well as jazz and classical. I love the diversity of music around the world from different countries. I love the rhythms of Middle Eastern music from India. I just think it’s so neat how music transcends across all nationalities, to all people around the world.

CS: I see it as the great galvanizer.

TF: Yes. I also believe when I created “You’ve Been Scouted,” that’s exactly what I keep thinking about: All the different diversities I’ve heard in music…around the world… throughout the years. Now we get to pull them together in one big platform of LoMo, and we get to experience and decide what we like, and that’s really cool.

CS: Extremely cool. Downright badass. What role does music play in your role as a director/producer?

TF: Music plays a massive role in all movies, even TV shows etc. When you think about some of the greatest movies of all time like Titanic, Céline Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” comes to mind. Her incredible voice and talent reaches into the emotions and the hearts of people around the world. Music can actually make a movie successful, and a blockbuster hit.

CS: Could you provide any insight to musicians looking to break into the movie/television industry?

TF: As we all know, it’s very difficult to break into the music business or to get that lucky break. We believe that’s a big part of what we’re doing with LoMo, allowing the average person that one big lucky break. What I understand from the movie business, is that if you think you have a song for a movie, the best thing to do is to go ahead and produce a recording, even if it’s not perfect. Create it and send the music to the producers. Utilize every contact you can to get it in front of the right people that will listen to it. Don’t oversell your song, just let them hear it. They will know right away if it works for one of their movies. “With You’ve Been Scouted,” as part of the prize winning package comes a recording contract, and a song recording to go into one of our movies.

CS: I imagine you have projects in your sights beyond “You’ve Been Scouted.” Can you shed any light on that?

TF: The vision I have for LoMo, is to turn the platform into the next TikTok. Part of that includes a very very grassroots project such as having a “You’ve Been Scouted” for actors, where you’ll have to act out your favorite role. Your friends will vote for you and we’ll award the winner with a part in one of our movies – such as a speaking part with Al Pacino, Bruce Willis or a Sylvester Stallone etc. Or, with people that I’ve done movies with in the past. It’s amazing that we are able to do that and pull this together as a totally disruptive media and entertainment company. Also, we will be doing “You’ve Been Scouted” for dance, which we have already done in India two months ago and now another one this month has had incredible success. We’ll also be looking for talent in writing scripts, documentaries, filming, producing…all the things where one has talent even cooking shows etc. With all those things, we feel that we will be the biggest talent pool in the world with LoMo. Those are some of the projects I have in my sight.

CS: Now that you’re on the scene as a Central New Yorker, again, what looks good to you?

TF: My favorite restaurants in the area are Olives Eatery in Baldwinsville for lunch…just a great charming little place.

CS: Yeah, that place is good. Indeed, a charming lunch choice.

TF: Also, one of my favorites, believe it or not, is Longhorn Steakhouse in Liverpool. I’m a regular at least a couple of times a week. Pastabilities is probably one of my favorite Italian restaurants and my favorite favorite restaurant in all of the CNY area is actually called Canal Side Inn & Restaurant in Little Falls. Great French high-end food!

CS: Okay, Mr. Farnsworth! I certainly appreciate you taking time for us here at Sounds of Syracuse. Very generous of you. I’m looking forward to all that unfolds from your direction. And, I wish you much success and a lot of fun with “You’ve Been Scouted!”

TF: Thank you for the opportunity to chat about it with you, Chuck. It’s been a pleasure.

Chuck Schiele
Chuck Schiele is a lifelong, award-winning musician, art director, producer, editorialist, artist, activist, member Quatrocollective.com and fan of the CNY music scene. To be considered for this column, please write chuck.schiele@gmail.com.