The Los Angeles-born, New York-based producer has been contributing to the film industry since he was a teenager. His new venture, FazeWorld, is the culmination of everything he's done since.
Photos by Anna Koblish
For Issue 04: Hacking It, Byline teamed up with Urban Outfitters and Dickies to highlight individuals who have paved their own paths and unlocked new levels in their respective industries. These creators defy the system by making their own rules, and in other words, they're Hackers.
I opened the door to the Bed-Stuy duplex that Adam Faze is currently using as his headquarters, and someone immediately grabbed my shoulders. “Are you ready for the helmet?!” asked Adam as he strapped a massive bike helmet with a camera protruding from the forehead. He explained the concept of his newest, maybe, not-yet, could be, hit TikTok show, “Bodega Run” — in 30 seconds, I was supposed to run around the “bodega” and grab items that would add up to exactly $100.
Around me, the FazeWorld rat pack prepped, Adam pointed: “Saheer [Mathrani], business partner, Kareem [Rahma], investor advisor and partner in a bunch of shows, Ari [Cagan] and Damion full-time creatives, they do a lot of the directing, shooting, editing, conceptualizing.”
And there’s Adam, the producer and studio chief of FazeWorld.
FazeWorld is a multimedia production company that deals with a new generation of content. But in some ways, Adam’s very old-school Hollywood – a handsome and charismatic wheeler-dealer who delights in setting things up (people, shows, you name it).
Growing up in the Palisades but not coming from a family in “the industry” meant seeing the shine of Hollywood as an outsider. By the time he was a junior at his all-boys Catholic high school, Adam was scrolling Deadline when others might be playing football or worrying about college applications.
There was no film program at his school, so Adam made himself one by creating a student film festival that SAG, LACMA, and SONY sponsored. This was around the same time as SONY’s Wikileaks fiasco when Julien Assange published confidential data from anonymous sources. “So everyone’s email in Hollywood was public,” Adam tells me. “I started emailing everyone. I emailed Guillermo del Toro. He was like, ‘How did you get my email?’” Casey Neistat ended up guest judging, and The New York Times wrote up the film festival. “In my head, this was the only chance I’d ever get to talk to anyone from Hollywood,” Adam says. When he was interviewed for the piece, he asked the reporter to tell the world he was looking for an internship. Dutifully, the writer did.
Pinpointing when Adam Faze became Adam Faze is like asking a fish when it learned to swim. Maybe it was when he started a Student Film Festival with no school support, maybe it was when he bullied the NYT into getting him an internship, maybe it was a solo trip to South By Southwest that inspired him to drop out of community college and create his own production companies, maybe it was one of the two successful pandemic-era podcasts he created, again, harnessing Wikileaks. Every Adam story I’ve heard starts the same way – sheer fucking willpower and Wikileaks.
To me, what defines Adam is how he handles the lows. In May 2021, Adam hit a wall. “I was in New York producing a hair-loss commercial for postpartum women,” he says “Fun shoot, but I was like, what am I doing? I wanted to make movies, and this is not that!” When he heard that Annapurna’s new head of film needed a producer’s assistant, Adam decided to start at the bottom again.
Working at Annapurna presented him with several career-altering revelations: “One, I was a horrible assistant. Two, I was like, you couldn’t pay me to watch any of these movies [that he was producing]. And three, wow, I’m spending so much time on my phone, online, and on my laptop watching stuff. Some 16-year-olds growing up today only know how to watch things like this.”
Where the head of Annapurna might despair, Adam was optimistic, “You can sit there and be like, ‘Oh shit, this sucks, that this is how we watch stuff,’ or you can be like, ‘Hey, this is an amazing way to reach people.’ Anyone can do it with less expensive equipment. Instead, why don’t we make the best version of that?” That’s what FazeWorld is: the best version of the content you already watch.
While producing film and TV down the line isn’t out of the question, FazeWorld is focused on a more specific niche for now, “We’re doing something nobody else is doing, we think we actually have a knack for it, and we can do it at such a lower price point which means we can try so much more shit,” Adam says. There’s massive freedom in that approach, and the current FazeWorld docket reflects that – Keep the Meter Running (Kareem’s hugely viral show where NYC taxi drivers take him their favorite spots), Clockwork Dynasty (a TikTok series about buying and selling watches), Fifty Stars (an unannounced political network from Peter McIndoe of Birds Aren’t Real Fame). Adam is also “opening a comedy club.” That is, a non-physical, roving, digital comedy club based on a convergence of ideas—comedy clubs have a terrible digital presence, comedians are desperate to get their sets online filmed professionally, and people love to watch standup.
And then there’s Bodega Run, a show that was only recently exhumed from the FazeWorld graveyard. Kareem got into character, “There are 13 thousand bodegas in NYC, but only one where you can win big! My name is Boss Man. Are you ready to run?” I grabbed a bottle of Windex, which exploded on me. When I complain about $18.75 for a single bottle of Draino, Kareem quips, “Bodega Run: The price is never right.”
Adam tells me FazeWorld is at a 5:1 ratio for “not producing things.” For every five ideas, they develop one. It takes so much to create one of their shows, so it makes sense to test it like this first.
After I do not win at Bodega Run, Adam schedules the rest of his week— investor meetings, pitches, the typical producer workload, and then, “At 11 AM, Ameya is doing my nails,” Adam says. He is working on a nail salon talk show. “I interviewed a lot of nail artists and found one who is such a personality and an insanely talented nail artist. I’m going on Saturday to have her do my nails without cameras.”
Adam is also TikTok’s preeminent unofficial talent scout and agent. If there’s somebody cool online, chances are he’s already friends with them. His screen time is, according to him (but probably not an eye doctor), not that bad this week: 6 hours and 40 minutes. 4 of those hours are spent on TikTok. If there’s someone he finds interesting, he immediately reaches out. On a good day, he will talk with ten people.
I watch as Adam Facetimes a TikToker who breaks into football fields and reviews them. Adam is indiscriminate with his attention. If he likes it, he likes it! Nothing is too weird, strange, bizarre, silly, or niche for Adam. Part of his business is about being able to predict “what works on YouTube that doesn’t always work on Instagram or TikTok.” It’s a skill that comes from immersing yourself in every facet of digital creativity and taking the time to understand the people behind the screens.
On the call, Adam is attentive. Beyond just connecting for the sake of business, he’s listening for what makes something good, what interests the creator, and what they would want in the future. TikTok is Hollywood circa 1912 – talented people are creating things, but there’s no centralization yet, no studio system, just land where something could be and a desperate scramble to capitalize on the virality of a moment that’s already passed. There’s all this talent, and it’s still basically untapped. Save for Adam.
I remind Adam that he hired me to work with him on not one but two failed podcast scripts. He laughs. Everyone I know has experienced that similar career pattern of two steps forward, one back, going from gallery and TV jobs to service gigs and back up. It’s dreadful! But if you see it not as a Sisyphean climb but as a workout… It’s not so bad. Part of what makes him so great is not that his story is familiar — it’s how he hacks it is special. He’s a producer for the people.
While talking about his path and FazeWord, Adam says, “It had to work. It still has to work. There’s no backup plan. I love entertainment. I just want to make the biggest, most watched shows in the history of entertainment, and I wanna have fun doing it. I have to make it work.” He has complete resolve.
He switches gears to talk to the TikToker, “Where in the world are you? How did you get into making videos? What did you study? How is it when you start going to these new colleges? Do you want a new on-camera career? Do you have a friend who knows their way around a camera?” Finally, an earnest, “Keep in touch!”