ERIC ZALA

eric@zaladetours.com | cell 702.279.5284

 

SUMMARY

  • Organically led projects successfully since age 12.

  • Proven track record of success, from corporate to non-profit to creative realms.

  • Corporate: Reported to senior management of largest video game company in the world, responsible for department of over 200 employees and budget of over 4 million.  Turned the worst-rated company Quality Assurance department around to become the #1-rated – for 3 years running.

  • Non-profit:  Developed an arts cultural center into thriving, vital creative hub of activity, with financial stability, overcoming challenge of growing the arts in the midst of a national recession.

  • Creative:  Award-winning filmmaker (apart from RAIDERS ADAPTATION), author, motivational speaker.

 

EXPERIENCE

 

2017                Motivational speaker – for ZALA DETOURS

  • Speaks at schools, businesses, CTSO's, conferences, and assemblies, sharing lessons learned, remaking RAIDERS and beyond, in leading teams to accomplish great things, of all sizes, all budgets, all ages.

 

2016                Tour Organizer/Booker/Motivational speaker – for cross-country RAIDERS TOUR

  • Pulled off a 4 month, 18,000+ mile, 65 city tour, exceeding original plan of 40 cities.

  • Closed financial gap through selling house to buy RV – and combination of appearance fees and merch sales (both exceeded budget forecasts, for all 4 months of tour).

  • Performed Q&As at venues large and small across country; never missed a scheduled screening.

  • Engaged and inspired audiences, young and old.

  • Invited by teachers and educators to visit their schools, to speak and share how, outside of a classroom, kids organically applied resourcefulness, perseverance, collaboration, solution seeking, creative thinking, goal setting, storyboarding, and the ability to prototype and iterate.

 

2011 ­– 2016    Quality Assurance Manager – for video game publisher 2K GAMES                  

  • For 1st project, wore both manager & lead hats, directly led a project 1st time in 17yrs– BORDERLANDS 2.

  • Working with and developing a team of nearly all temporary, 1st-time testers – BL2 went on to become a critical and commercial success – and the top selling game in 2K’s history.

 

2008 – 2011    Executive Director – for MARY C. O’KEEFE CULTURAL CENTER OF ARTS & EDUCATION

Took over the leadership of an arts non-profit during a national recession.  Results:

  • Annual revenue more than doubled in 2 years time; net income quadrupled in same time.

  • Tripled membership in 2 years.

  • Revitalized programming to include world-caliber acts (Celtic Crossroads, Barrage) despite small budget.

  • 300+% increase in events — averaging a major event every 4.5 days.

  • Reinvigorated class lineup, ranging from belly-dancing to boat-building to the ancient art of Japanese braiding, to cooking classes, over 65 total.

  • Oversaw grant submissions resulting in the Mary C being awarded a record 3 grants in 2009, including its 1st-ever operating grant – over $43,000 spread across 2 years of operating expenses.  Awarded $55,000 over next two years for next grant period – an increase of over $12K, at a time when nearly all grant recipients had award amounts decreased, due to NEA cuts and increased requests.

  • Have 100% success rate for grants written personally.

  • Solicited and secured sponsorships to underwrite events, from the annual Chocolate Ball to a film series.

  • Secured vital new partnerships for the Mary C, even new allies in the media, who regularly provide advertising, TV & radio commercials – at no cost.

  • Increased Mary C’s financial self-sufficiency, so the organization relied less on City funds (from 25.3% of gross revenue to 8.2%, in the span of a year).

  • Managed these financial results despite the abundance of events and classes offered free to community: 59% of events in 2009 were free, 62% in 2010 were free.

  • Overhauled center’s reputation in community, to that of a vital and thriving center of artistic activity.

  • Received the Key to the City by the Mayor of Ocean Springs, who also proclaimed Sept 3rd, 2011 as “Eric Zala Day”, for his work in role and contributions to community.

 

2000 ­– 2005    Director of Quality Assurance – for ELECTRONIC ARTS                                     

  • Built dept infrastructure from scratch, organized resources to handle largest # of projects at studio to date.

  • #1 QA dept across EA on average submission success rate, dramatically improving each year (4.4 to 1.25).

  • Met and exceeded ambitious recruitment goal of hiring and training over 150 testers, quadrupling dept. staff to 200, in the space of few months, all done self-sufficiently and independent of HR.

  • Instituted dept’s 1st formalized training program for both new and old staff, expanding to specialty classes.

  • Have personally mentored and developed employees, who became sought after & hired by other depts.

  • #1 QA dept in console online exp, via specialty group recognized EA-wide as testing center of excellence.

  • #1 QA department in providing WW support, helping out other studios in need (EAC, EARS, EALA, EAUK, EA Chicago), all the while taking care of internal customers as well, consistently earning kudos.

  • Re-vamped entire departmental structure to increase efficiency, and to accommodate projects in greater number and complexity than ever before.  Led to consistent 1st-time passes through 1st-party standards.

  • Reduced budget costs by utilizing smaller, better-trained test teams and minimizing downtime through innovative scheduling.

           

 

1995 ­– 2000    Multiple QA management roles – for ACTIVISION, INC.            

Senior Manager, Resource Administration                        April 1999 – October 2000

Senior QA Project Lead                                                       January 1996 – April 1999

QA Project Lead                                                                   September 1995 – January 1996

QA Tester                                                                              July 1995 – September 1995

  • Organized test teams & leads. Responsible for allocation & prioritization of resources across projects.

  • Developed and tracked project budgets covering project’s personnel, supplies and equipment.

  • Interviewed and hired personnel on multi-tiered levels. Created new job positions and descriptions.

  • Evaluated individual work performance and advised on career development.

  • Oversaw establishment of department’s first formalized training program for both new and old staff.

  • Authored training materials for department. Established definitive format for code release presentation.

  • Performed as Sr. Lead for over 100 projects, all without any noteworthy back-end/CS issues arising.

  • Proven ability to manage multiple high priority projects and to turn around “problem projects”.

  • Successfully developed and controlled budgets totaling over 1.4 million.

  • Began process of flagging budget overages in advance to Sr. Management.

 

FILM EXPERIENCE

Writer-Director – AN EARLY TWILIGHT

  • Winner of over 20 domestic and international awards, including the Grand Prize at CINE, 1st Place and $5,000 at the National Media Owl Awards.

  • Picked up for distribution.

Director – RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK: THE ADAPTATION

  • Steven Spielberg: “…The best piece of flattery that George and I have ever received.” – Empire magazine.

  • Directed what has been widely called the greatest fan film of all time, by Harry Knowles (Ain’t It Cool News) and other film critics.

  • 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

  • Featured in Vanity Fair, Premiere magazine, Empire magazine, The TODAY Show, CNN, The Late Late Show With Craig Kilborn, NPR, PRI Studio 360, BBC Radio 4.

  • Subject of documentary and book.

 

ADDITIONAL EXPERIENCE

 

  • Author of book of RAIDERS ADAPTATION Storyboards, featuring all 602 drawn from memory, at age 12.

  • Have given professional lectures on DIY filmmaking, during screening tour of RAIDERS ADAPTATION, inspiring hundreds across the country.

  • Have traveled the world, being invited and flown out to screen and speak at over 100 venues over a 13 year span -- from the Smithsonian in Washington DC, to Mann’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood, Leicester Square in London, to Skywalker Ranch, Industrial Light & Magic, WIRED, Pixar, even a TED talk.

  • Have appeared on national TV, on the TODAY Show, CNN, the Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, as well as Turner Classic Movies, the BBC, and NPR.

  • Author of column published semi-monthly in newspaper OCEAN SPRINGS RECORD.

  • Been the subject of feature articles in VANITY FAIR, WIRED, VILLAGE VOICE, a book and a documentary.

 

SKILLS

  • Consummate organizational and structural skills.

  • Ability to “make things happen” – initiative, follow-through.

  • Strong interpersonal, communication and mentoring skills.

  • Natural and engaging public speaker.

  • Writing – both creative and analytical.

  • Solid judgment. 

  • Sterling commitment, vision and leadership.

 

EDUCATION

 

B.F.A., Film and Television Production - NEW YORK UNIVERSITY                                   

Graduated with Honors, G.P.A. 3.9/4.0.

Received Award for Consistent Excellence in Filmmaking (1 of 4, out of class of 300+)

Founder’s Day Scholar

 

Additional information available upon request

Eric Zala | Motivational Speaker | eric@zaladetours.com

 Site Designed & Created by Eric & Cassie Zala; ZD Logo by Rosina Rothman; Raiders Cartoon by Jeff Owens; Book Cover by St.Martin's Press: Adaptation Poster by Adam McDaniel;

Doc Posters by Drafthouse Films, Paul Shipper & MONDO; Photos by the Zalas, Chris Strompolos, Jayson Lamb, Mat Szwajkos,Shelly Stallings, Jennifer Stockert, Tony Armer & Tess Chibirka