10fall 2013 | professional report
the time out of the blue telling you different things,” Carroll exclaims.
“But because of his knowledge of SIOR I was able to have some
faith [in Zarpas], do some research on him and the business he was
involved with, and I was willing to go forward. I felt it was something
that would help everyone in the future. And of course I was excited
to be a part of the movie-making process in even a small way.”
Setting the Scene
Finding the space wasn’t easy. Zarpas not only wanted a great view
in a great location, he needed the right aesthetic match with the
scenes. Many were to take place at a record label in Hollywood,
and the exterior and interior needed to look the part and sell to the
audience as such.
“Obviously I have no experience in the movie business and have
never been asked to find a location to shoot scenes, so it took some
knowledge of the location,” Carroll explains.
In addition, the movie was being produced under a strict budget.
Filming in a business district within a busy city presents challenges
easily avoided in a closed movie set. Vacant spaces, while ideal for
the potential of set design, are costly. Occupied spaces, while often
more economical, come with additional obstacles. Will the interior
layout and design work as is? Will new furniture need to be rented?
Can we get the occupants to temporarily telecommute? These are
not easily answered questions.
“As soon as I arrived in Birmingham it was obvious that he had
the respect of everyone in town,” says Zarpas of Carroll. “As one
would expect from an SIOR broker, he knew the office market backward and forward, and everyone in town knew him as well. While
he helped me identify properties, he also established my credibility
through his own formed respect in the community. I don’t think we
would have achieved our goals if it wasn’t for Sam.”
Developing the Story
The project would not only produce a great movie, but a solid foundation for a long-lasting relationship, something every broker strives
for (and many movie producers rarely experience, Zarpas was quick
“I didn’t leave the movie business to get rich and famous. I was
rich and famous and I wasn’t happy. I left the movie business in part
because I found my traditional Judeo-Christian value system increas-
ingly at odds with the relativistic moral standards of Hollywood, and
I felt I had to go. This movie grabbed me back in.”
As a producer and family man, the emphasis on principles and
grace is something he wants to bestow to his family, as well as
“Movies and television are simply the most powerful commu-
nication tools for influencing opinion and influencing values and
influencing minds. It’s the most powerful tool ever invented. You
can reach millions of people in a single weekend with your mes-
sage. There’s no other medium that achieves that. Once you buy a
ticket and the lights go down, you’re not going anywhere. When a
movie does its job, it creates the sensation of dreaming while you’re
Establishing the Plot
For Zarpas, the relationship he developed with Carroll reflected the
very core values the movie conveys. Grace Unplugged challenges
the audience to question: Would you give up what you need to get
everything you want? The answer: in life, as in the movies, sacrificing personal needs, while often difficult, can ultimately lead to
greater happiness and success.
“Are you always going to get everything you want out of a trans-
action yourself?” asks Zarpas. “Maybe not. But if the client does,
then you’re a winner. Because it’s not about you. And you certainly
have to embrace that ethic that this movie celebrates if you are going
to succeed in the commercial real estate industry.”
Carroll understands this as well.
“As brokers, we are in the business of helping individuals and
corporations fill existing and future needs. That’s quite simply what
we do. Sometimes it’s a paying job, sometimes it’s not, but we are
here to help. Hopefully this collaboration exemplifies that.”
“What’s best for the client is best for you, 100 percent of the
time,” explains Zarpas. “Every SIOR knows this. When that client
looks up from the closing table and says, ‘That guy took care of me.
He gave me 150 percent,’ then you win. And the phone just rings and
rings. It’s not about you; it’s about the client.”
Just like any transaction, a deal is rarely made on the first call.
Negotiations are vital. It takes time to establish a relationship, but
only after proven results is trust formed. Sacrifices on both parties
are often required. But if grace becomes unplugged, and good intentions and values are evident, everyone wins.
It turns out that brokers do have grace, and it can serve them well
in their daily business transactions. Given the success of the project,
Zarpas will certainly look to Carroll and other SIORs in the future. This
collaboration exemplifies that not every business transaction comes
from the usual sources, and it pays to keep your mind open and your
“People want to work with others who they know have their best
interest at heart and aren’t always doing it for a pay check,” explains
Carroll. “If there is one thing that is gained from this, hopefully it
shows [brokers] aren’t all about the money; that we are here to help
people. As long as everyone’s heart is in the right place, things typically work out.”
Grace Unplugged hits theaters nationwide October 4. For more information, go
Alexis Fermanis is the SIOR Director of Communications and Editor-in-Chief of
Professional Report Magazine.
“WHAT'S BEST FOR THE CLIENT
IS BEST FOR YOU, 100 PERCENT
OF THE TIME. EVERY SIOR
KNOWS THIS...IT'S NOT ABOUT
YOU, IT'S ABOUT THE CLIENT."