An integral part of the industry, we talked to Rembrandt Flores, an uber-successful, well-connected Filipino businessman about his ventures and the highs and lows of navigating through the ongoing pandemic.
Champagne glam and red carpets, film premieres, and brand announcements—Rembrandt Flores has seen it all. From release parties and film festivals, charity showcases, and post-Academy Award celebrations, he has done countless events in the Hollywood landscape.
The gilded world of celebrities is charming and flamboyant in their spiffy suits and sparkling dresses. They have make-up dusting their cheeks and silver gems draped casually on their wrists. But where are all these well-named and well-famed business moguls, award-winning film actors, well-decorated musicians, renowned charity ambassadors, and high-profile brand representatives raring to go to? The Hollywood dream is an ever-looming presence across the globe, but the behind the scenes magic of this fabled world of luxury owes its success to the efforts of the events industry. Rembrandt Flores, a simple Filipino man with an affinity for entertaining and socializing, is just one of the many hardworking figures to admire.
Rembrandt is the co-founder of Entertainment Fusion Group, a full-service entertainment marketing, and communications agency. Born to two Filipino parents, he grew up in Almaden Valley and Los Gatos, California. His early beginnings saw him venture into talent PR. This is something EFG still does to this very day. Most recently, they helped Filipino talent Iñigo Pascual and supported him on his journey to break into the American market.
“It’s hard for someone who’s made it in Manila or in the Philippines to want to leave all that fame and fortune and start from scratch in the United States,” he explains as we chat over the balancing act between Western celebrity culture and Filipino talent. Happy to help the Philippines out with his Rolodex of western connections, he often acts as an ambassador between Hollywood and Manila. In general, he finds joy in helping other people and businesses thrive and breakthrough. Recently, he has also become an adviser and investor to many start-up direct-to-consumer brands.
His illustrious career sparked to a start with one specific cliché: be at the right place at the right time. Fresh out of college, he was recruited by Abrams Artist Agency to be part of their talent agent program. After this, he got a job offer at a talent management firm before finding a place at E! Entertainment Television.
At a fated turn of events, he was asked to go on a shoot in Las Vegas to work with a celebrity guest host and their publicist. Rembrandt became fast friends with the two women, and they deduced that TV production was not for him. From there, the early beginnings of what would later become the Entertainment Fusion Group came into fruition.
He and the publicist started their own PR agency named Fusion Publicity. They separated three successful years later and he rebranded the company to EFG, expanding into corporate brands and events.
EFG’s long list of clients included the likes of Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, LG, Tanqueray and Johnnie Walker; the latter two he cites to have helped him launch several more liquor companies. They have managed and coordinated many different events throughout the years, from post-Oscar parties to soirees at international film festivals such as Venice and Cannes. It is an industry that Rembrandt thoroughly enjoys.
“The whole point of an event is for a person to physically experience the product; brand immersion. The magic of being around people, feeling that energy, and being completely engaged in it,” he details. “Events are so great because we are creating an emotional tie to that event and brand.” To him, there’s something about the high pressure and stress in putting together the different puzzle pieces required to make the events work and run smoothly. It’s the thrill and exhilaration he feels surrounded by brands and celebrities, big names of all generations, from Prince to Zendaya, Penelope Cruz to Channing Tatum. It’s that personal high that intoxicates him from a successful launch and seeing people flock and enjoy the events that he has helped curate from scratch.
“I’ve been doing this for so long and all of our events have such amazing people—I mean, these are like names as a kid I literally idolized and now they’re attending our events. I’ve worked with countless of celebrities and brands, and [each of them] has played a very pivotal role in shaping me to be the type of executive I am today.”
But despite all the glitz and glam, all the showers and praises he’s often basked in, the projects he finds himself most proud of are those he’s done for charity. Having worked with organizations such as Unlikely Heroes and The Art of Elysium, he finds himself at awe at the amazing shows attached to these events and the money raised for such important causes. Again, it is that pull that he has for helping other people.
Today, Rembrandt stands at this new epoch of his over 15-year career, navigating through the pandemic which has decimated the events industry in Hollywood. The rippling effects see him lose about 50% of his business; launches from April to December canceled. “To me, it’s the magic of the pivot; the industry has changed so much in such a short amount of time that I do not even know where we’ll be next month,” he explains, diving deep into how he has been keeping his company afloat during this unprecedented time.
“[Now] we just focus on the other side of the business which includes consumer PR, social media marketing, celebrity & influencer outreach, and guess what? Those divisions are thriving during this pandemic.”
In addition to celebrity partnerships on Instagram and collaborating with influencers, EFG is also dipping their toes into the fast-growing world of TikTok. Aside from client/brand campaigns, Rembrandt has a quick-format talk show within the app called One Minute with Rembrandt to keep up with his celebrity friends and business colleagues. On top of all this, he and his company are experimenting with virtual events.
“[They] are the only way to go if we are going to do a launch of some sort,” he remarks somberly. “[But] there’s only so many digital events you can attend. It’s not the same with a physical event because you get to see different people, and it’s a different environment. Virtual fatigue is real so I hope we can get back to having traditional in-person events sooner than later.”
On the flip side of it all, he’s been blessed with some time to take a break. An overachiever with a slight self-diagnosed fear of missing out, Rembrandt has been taking on a constant stream of clients and projects. “I think I noticed at the beginning of this year that I was working way too much. I didn’t get enough sleep, and that affected me psychologically, personally physically and mentally,” he explains. “My friend Sarni said it in fact; it took a pandemic for THE Rembrandt Flores to take a break.”
With the world of events at a state of stagnation, Rembrandt takes this opportunity to enjoy the simple pleasures of life; eating and working out, staying connected with friends and family, and finding more creative ways to keep his company going.
As our long talk slowly wraps up to a close, he leaves a few parting words of advice. In full circle from how his career began, he wants fellow Filipinos trying to break into a western dominated culture, everyday people with hopes of thriving in a business-oriented industry, and creatives who feel like they’ve reached a dead end, to always remember that simple cliché of never giving up.
“No matter what anyone tells you, don’t listen to the naysayers; if you have that God-given talent and you have that drive, then you WILL make it. If I can make it, trust me, you can too.”