Article by Olivia Loving, Photos by Rachel Kaplan
By the end of the Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards, the crowd was getting anxious.
A few minutes before, it had seen Edward Burns (Saving Private Ryan) receive a Disruptive Innovation Award for his low-budget film, Newlyweds (2011).
And now it was waiting for Justin Bieber.
The star was appearing on the heels of many other talented awardees, like 12-year-old inventor Thomas Suarez, who received an award for his work with MakerBot, a company that develops robots. In a different presentation, a “hummingbird” took flight in the auditorium and crashed into the wall behind Edward Burns. A CheetahBot was unveiled at the front of the room.
Kevin Carroll played tug-of-war onstage with the stretchy prosthesis that he and colleague Dr. Dan Strzempka had created for a dolphin’s tail. The animal’s name is Winter, and her story was featured in a 2011 movie starring Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd.
The ceremony spoke of disruptive innovation theory as one originally directed towards “technology” and now focusing on ”vexing social problems, like healthcare.” One of the first awardees, Dr. Patricia Bath, works on developing technology for the blind. The crowd was told that Monet had had cataracts – Degas, macular degeneration.
Dr. Steven Curley accepted an award for his work with non-invasive cancer treatment that would eliminate a need for chemotherapy: He talked of “clinical trials within the next few years” and upcoming talks with the FDA.
NYU Local interviewed Edward Burns (Friends with Kids) about his 2011 film, Newlyweds, made on a budget of 9,000 dollars. Tisch students can sympathize with Burns’ dilemma, most of them struggling to make small and low-budget movies themselves. The actor offered advice:
“The biggest mistake is trying to compete with Hollywood. Use your lack of resources and embrace them.”
Burns shot Newlyweds in restaurants and bars that he would frequent with his actor friends, also in the film.
“Make a list of the locations you can shoot for free,” he said. “Use exterior shots [of the restaurant] in the movie.” He also advised using tweets as advertisement collateral for free filming space.
Earlier, Scooter Braun and Justin Bieber had related the story of the star’s discovery. Once Mr. Braun found Mr. Bieber on YouTube, he persistently tried to reach the then-13-year-old.
“My mom didn’t have any clue what to do,” Mr. Bieber said of the number of calls he received at first – from managers other than Mr. Braun. “She didn’t have a lawyer. She’d heard horror stories.”
When Scooter Braun contacted Patricia Mallette (Mr. Bieber’s mother), she remained wary. “Why am I going to trust a guy named Scooter?” Justin Bieber said, of his own reaction, and the crowd laughed.
“Finally he found my great-aunt, who I’ve never met before. She said, ‘I think that’s my brother’s grandson.’ So then he got my aunt’s number and was stalking them. Finally he got in touch with my school board.”
This “never say never” approach of Mr. Braun’s worked. Finally, Patricia Mallette accepted his offer to fly her and her son down for a meeting. And now, five years later, both Mr. Bieber and Mr. Braun have worked to sign on Carly Rae Jepsen, whose single, “Call Me Maybe,” has topped “Boyfriend.”
“I went to the UK,” Mr. Bieber said, “and they’re like, ‘Your single’s number two. Carly’s number one.’” He and the crowd laughed – remembering, perhaps, his own YouTube video, in which he dances to the song with fellow star (and girlfriend) Selena Gomez. The video has received slightly fewer million hits than the original, which currently carries 38 million.
In an interview with Scooter Braun after the ceremony, NYU Local asked how his relationship with Ms. Jepsen differed from the one he has with Justin Bieber.
“Justin was a child,” he said. “Carly is 26. She’s becoming like my sister.” He loves “being there for her and for her team.”
The conversation was interrupted at this point, as Mr. Bieber emerged from a heavy door behind Mr. Braun. A few moments earlier, both had been posing for photos on the red carpet. Humorously, Mr. Bieber had lifted up his hammer-as-prize and pretended to strike an unknowing Mr. Braun. They remained tight throughout the surrounding hubhub, Mr. Braun affording a comfort that does not usually accompany international superstars.
“He’s a hard worker. He’s weird. He tends to wear T-shirts to meetings. This is the first time I’ve seen him look like this,” Mr. Bieber said onstage, gesturing to his manager’s suit. Mr Bieber himself was dressed entirely in black and white.
Mr. Bieber had teased Mr. Braun onstage when asked to describe their relationship.
“He’s such a cute little guy,” Justin Bieber said, pinching his talent manager’s cheeks.
It seems like Scooter Braun has kept his promise.