Native Advertising

Native Advertising

In today’s digital landscape, how consumers learn about brands is rapidly changing. Banner and side bar ads on websites don’t garner the attention they used to, and more and more people are using ad blockers to delete them all together. Native advertising has quickly risen as the solution to this problem and is proving to have a better success rate than traditional online ads.

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Admit it, did you see a single ad for Pokémon GO before it was released? Odds are you probably found out about it from a friend who was playing it. While Niantic’s Pokémon GO may have started as an April Fool’s Joke, on July 6th 2016, millions of Americans plugged in to finally experience the popular franchise in the real world (more or less). estiamtes the total number of players in the US to be about 9.5 million daily. Additionally the app has already surpassed data usage of other popular apps such as Tinder and Twitter. But, the question is, how can an app with little to no marketing or pr budget get, let alone keep the number one spot for so long? Well there are a few reasons...

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Cultural Salvage: My Afternoon at the Diarna Situation Room

Cultural Salvage: My Afternoon at the Diarna Situation Room

No culture ever vanishes completely… vestiges can be found if one looks hard enough. Recently, however, the Islamic State and a plethora of other terrorist organizations in the Middle East have been on a rampage of destroying culture they deem unfit for or contrary to their mission. I was in the hospital last year when ISIS dynamited the ancient temple complex at Palmyra. Needless so say, it did not help to expedite my recovery.

A culture vastly overlooked by many historians and academics alike is the rich Jewish culture that used to flourish throughout cities in the Middle East, North Africa, and the Balkans. Only seventy years ago, there were still thriving Jewish communities in cities across the Muslim world. Some were very shaken, like in Baghdad, some on the precipice of collapse, like Damascus, and some would soon be completely abandoned, like in Alexandria. Instead of abandonment, there's a new problem facing Jewish heritage sites in the Middle East: the merciless destruction of Jewish culture by terrorist organizations.

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Be the Amsterdam of PR

Be the Amsterdam of PR

Be relatable, courteous, outgoing, and professional. Don’t assume that because your Twitter account looks great that it will translate into business and growth opportunities. Sure someone might visit your account because of the large number of followers, “surely s/he is doing something right!” but once they find that you have done nothing but faked your popularity, and you aren’t personable at all, they will simply forget about you and move on to the next place.

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Paris: Lessons Learned from the City of Lights

Paris: Lessons Learned from the City of Lights

The rain was pouring, and my legs were extremely sore. My friend Gavi and I were staying at a hostel that promised a free drink at a bar down the street. We were exhausted after wandering around aimlessly. The Park du Champ de Mars was closed off for some football game screening, therefore making the Eiffel Tower almost as impossible to get to as Mount Everest. It just wasn’t a very fun day… especially considering that I was supposed to be in the “city of blinding lights.”

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5 Ancient Advertisements

With our society becoming increasingly more about consumerism, it is impossible to go anywhere, online or not, without facing an advertisement. Advertising is a growing business and industry, but it did not start out of nowhere. Exactly how old is is advertising? And where in the world was it created?

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Can Crime Have a Venue?

Why do certain urbanscapes offer more opportunity for violence and crime than others? This past week at Herald Strategies, we've been trying to get to the heart of this question. Back in February, a close friend and client was assaulted in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Rabbi Aaron L Raskin was approached by teenagers, and punched in the face. He isn't the first victim of violence in the park, and he certainly isn't the last. This past spring, park-goers have been pelted by basketballs, threatened with knives, and in a sort of West-Bank-like situation, assailed with heavy rocks. But the most recent case was the fatal shooting of Michelle Marks. She was walking home from work last Monday night when she was murdered by her boyfriend...

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Herald's client Yariv Bensira tells 5 key points to ask yourself while seeking your first apartment

 First Apartment Checklist: 5 Key Points to Ask Yourself

So you’ve set out on your own and are ready to be your own person. Congratulations! Now that you’ve made the big decision, it’s time to start the formidable search for your first apartment — for which you’ll need a checklist. Before you stress out, remember that millions of people have been through it (and are going through it as we speak). With a little preparation and some help from the experts, you’ll be signing a lease to your very own place in no time. Here are five key points to remember for your first apartment checklist.

Your First Apartment Checklist: What to Ask Yourself

1. What’s going to be the total cost?

Entering the “adult” world can be tough at first, especially if you’re new at handling your own finances or creating a budget. A lot of things come down to money, and apartments are no exception. There’s a reason cost should be at the top of your first apartment checklist — so really think about your financial situation and be realistic about what you can afford. For some, moving out on your own may take a while. In fact, the practice of rooming with the parental units for a bit post-graduation to save money isn’t that uncommon (Thanks, Mom and Dad!). As you start to browse apartments, here are some other things to keep in mind:

“A few mistakes first renters can make are related to underestimating the cost, not getting their priorities straight, not carefully reading the lease, or not touring the apartment before moving in”, says Yariv Bensira, a real estate expert from Brooklyn, New York.

Bensira recommends taking note about things like security deposits, maintenance fees, or other upfront costs before you commit.

“Make sure you have the right questions in mind when you’re visiting the apartment so you don’t waste your time”.

Renting Costs

When you’re ready to take the plunge, you’ll need to think first about how much you can spend on rent and factor in moving costs. Sometimes looking for an apartment means using a realtor, and that involves paying a broker’s fee, which is often 12-15 percent of your annual rent. A realtor or broker can be a useful person during your apartment search because they will be able to show you a variety of apartments in your price range so you can avoid falling in love with a place you can’t afford. With that said, don’t forget to factor in the additional cost if you choose to rent through the realtor — which can easily add hundreds to your monthly rent.

Moving Costs

Moving costs can also vary, depending on if you need to hire movers or rent a storage unit in case of temporary situations. This is where research and creativity come in handy. Shop around and see if you can find some deals. Some units run specials that offer a highly reduced price the first month, and charge a regular fee every month thereafter.

Another great option is to bribe your friends, coworkers, or family members with their poison of choice (be it pizza, beer, or something a bit more wholesome) in exchange for helping you move. Having a few willing and able-bodied buddies can be a great way to save on movers, whether you rent a truck or have a friend with a van.

Unaccounted For Costs

Another important tip for budgeting is to factor in extra costs. Are utilities included? If so, are they all included, or is it only heat and hot water, leaving you with the electricity? In the second case, it’s important to factor in changes in your electricity bill, especially in peak hot/cold seasons when your A/C or heater work overtime.

2. What do you know about the management?

Paying rent

Next key time on your first apartment checklist: What’s the management style of your building? Is there a live-in super or landlord? Is the building owned by a property management company? An unfortunate reality is that some renters don’t know who they’re paying rent to once they’ve moved into their new apartment — and that’s not okay. Who will you talk to if there’s an issue about “missing rent”? Always have a written record of who you’ll write rent checks to and who is responsible for giving you a rent receipt.

Getting Maintenance Done

The other reason you need absolute clarity on your management is so you know who to hold responsible for maintenance requests. You should know how to do simple upkeep like unclogging a shower drain, changing light bulbs, hanging pictures, etc, but when your building has bed bugs or you’re out of hot water, you should have a reliable point of contact.

Other Amenities

Don’t assume that your potential apartment will be outfitted with the latest appliances and amenities. Ask about laundry facilities, elevators, trash/recycling pick-up and access to communal areas. If these are important to you, you’ll want to consider the added expenses in cities where these are highly-valued luxuries, not everyday amenities.


Yariv Bensira, Real Estate Expert and Herald Client, about the Pros and Cons of Building a New Home

 Is Building a New Home a Better Deal Than Buying an Existing One?

by Holly Jonhson

Just the other day, a friend of mine argued that building a new home is more cost efficient than buying an existing property.

Her new home is almost finished, and will be move-in ready in about three weeks — so she’s understandably excited. Plus, she said, she’ll be saving all kinds of money because she built.

While I understood her excitement, I found that part puzzling. Was building a new home really cheaper? Please say it isn’t so.

She went on to explain that her new home came with a warranty on its construction and individual components, which would save her money if her home had any structural defects.

“Plus, I won’t have to replace a roof or an air conditioner for a decade,” she said. Since everything in her new house would be straight from the box, she felt sheltered from many of the surprise costs of home ownership we all complain about.

Why Building Usually Costs More

I wanted to dig deeper, so I reached out to an array of experts on the topic. As I suspected, there is no hard and fast rule. Just like the “rent versus buy” conundrum, the cost of building versus buying depends on a number of factors – some of which aren’t even in our control.

Still, the numbers don’t really lie. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the median price of a new home in the United States was $301,400 in February of 2016, while the median price of an existing home was $212,300.

That disparity can be explained at least partially by the idea that those who build new are often investing in larger and more luxurious homes. The median age of an existing, owner-occupied home in the U.S. is 37 years old, according to the NAHB. Back when such a house was built, around 1979, the median size of a newly constructed home was 1,645 square feet. In 2014, the median-sized new home was up to 2,453 square feet. A home that’s nearly 50% bigger is certainly going to cost more.

However, most experts concur that building new simply costs more on the front end. Here are a few reasons why:

Builder profits: Any new build is going to include some expectation for profit, which is part of the reason building a home costs more than buying an existing one, says founder of Beacon Real Estate, Stephen Maury.

“One contributing factor is the profit margin that a homebuilder will necessarily tack on to their cost of construction,” says Maury. “Sellers of older homes are less concerned with replacement costs than they are with capturing a profit on their investment,” he says. “Also, those homeowners will have benefited from value appreciation in the years since they built or purchased their home.”

More stringent energy policies or building codes: One instance where building new can cost more is when codes and rules have changed over the years, says Maury. “Depending on the age of the existing home, new homes may be required to be built to a more stringent energy code, to withstand higher winds, or at a higher elevation based on new FEMA projections for flood risks.”

Then, there are upgrades that are voluntary. One current trend is building “green,” or environmentally friendly homes, says Andrew Leff, national builder executive for Bank of America. Many newly-built homes come with energy certifications covering everything from roofs to appliance packages, while many existing homes were originally built to lower standards.

Then again, investing in an energy-friendly home could be a better long-term investment, says Leff. “While environmentally-friendly homes may cost more upfront to build, it could save you more money in the long run in terms of energy bills.”

The cost of land: When you buy an existing home, the cost of land comes with it. Buying a new home, on the other hand, generally means hunting down the perfect plot first. And that can be expensive, says Yariv Bensira of real estate firm Hyde Capital and investment management firm Lennox Companies.

“From my experience, if you’re looking to buy or build in a high demand area, the cost of purchasing land and then having to build a new home is more expensive than buying an existing home,” says Bensira. “The cost of the land [by itself] might be comparable to or near the cost of an existing home, so if you add in the building costs, permits, and time involved, you’re looking at a much more expensive proposition.”


Herald Client "The Closer" In 3 Newspapers and Online After NYC Premiere at Manhattan Film Festival

Our client, The Closer Movie ( won 4 awards at the Buffalo-Niagara Film Festival this past Sunday. They won in the following categories:

1. Best Feature Film 2. Best Actor (Patrick Duke Conboy) 3. Best Supporting Actress (Jessica Park ) and 4. Best Director (Eli Hershko). We are extremely proud of the whole cast, crew, actors, and of course Isaac Broyn ( the executive producer and Eli Hershko (conjured the director for this extraordinary work and film. 

Its not just us, others are recognizing The Closer Movie and we are attaching some new articles below, which include The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (our hometown paper), Alegemeiner, and The Jewish Standard (Times of Israel). 

Check out the following articles for more info, reviews and coverage of "The Closer":

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

The Jewish Standard:


Real Estate Expert and Thought Leader (and Herald Client) Yariv Bensira on Rental Market in Dallas

The Solution to a Shortage of Apartments For Rent in Dallas

inShareIn case you haven’t heard, people are flocking to Texas. The state, which boasts a burgeoning tech industry, warm weather and plenty of friendly faces has become the nation’s hotbed for renters in recent years. As a result, apartments for rent in Dallas — which has seen the second largest population boom in Texas — have become hot commodities. In a recent study of 11 major metros, Dallas’s rental market saw the most significant change in availability: a 5 percent drop in its vacancy rate over the last decade. The North Texas city even beat out San Francisco, the country’s most expensive city for renters, where vacancy has decreased by 4 percent since 2006. Apartments for rent in Dallas are going fast and they're staying gone. Click To Tweet Here’s what else you need to know if you’re planning on navigating the shortage of apartments to rent in Dallas.

The State of Apartments For Rent in Dallas

A Sizable Expansion

According to an NYU Furman Center report that studied 11 U.S. metros between 2006 and 2014, the Dallas metro area increased its rental stock by 25 percent —  an increase the study remarks is “sizable” compared to other metros. Real estate investor Yariv Bensira says the market in Dallas is ripe, from a developer’s point of view — but at a cost to renters.

“More and more rental developments are going up throughout Dallas. And it seems more and more amenities are needed in new buildings to compete in order to command higher-end rents,” he says.

And it isn’t just apartments for rent that are contributing to the boom in units in Dallas. According to the NYU Furman Center study, a significant number of the new rentals are single-family homes, as homeowners choose more to rent their houses, adding new streams of income.

The Influx of Millennials

Nationally, Millennials are leaning more towards renting today than owning — perhaps because it offers a sense of flexibility that the generation is so well-known to love. In Texas, the steep property tax rate is an added incentive to rent. As a result, the competition for vacant apartments for rent in Dallas is fierce. As more renters enter the Dallas market, developers continue to outdo one another for new business.

“There are young professionals and entrepreneurs flowing into Dallas from other urban centers and big cities, and they are used to luxury living in high-end buildings laden with amenities,” Bensira says. “They are looking to stay in town and are willing to pay to do so.”

And for those who do want to buy? The swelling property values mean scarier price tags, and ultimately it’s a matter of choosing the lesser evil. There’s no way, they say, to really have it all.

“I think people aren’t buying homes in Dallas because the cost of buying is also going up. I have friends who want to buy homes and condos, but it’s really expensive especially to be in a generally nice area,” says Betty Matthew, a Dallas-based speech language pathologist, who rents a townhome with two housemates in the city’s Deep Ellum neighborhood. “If you want to buy a home, you have to move further away, which people may be reluctant to do because of the longer commute to work and things to do in the city.”

The Decreasing Vacancy Rate

Even with a 25-percent increase in new apartments for rent in Dallas, the vacancy rate is still dropping. This is in part because the number of renters has increased by more than 35 percent since 2006, leaving a 10-percent deficiency in supply. As with any major metro experiencing the recent influx of renters, low-income renters are having more trouble finding affordable housing in the city center. They’re forced to either pay more to stay in the city or be pushed out into the suburbs and surrounding cities.


Herald Client, Real Estate Expert, Yariv Bensira in US News and World Report

Our client, real estate investor and developer, Yariv Bensira, was recently interviewed as a real estate expert and investing guru in US News and World Report. Yariv is a principal of Hyde Capital, LLC. a real estate investment firm. He is a leading expert and thought-leader in the world or real estate, real estate investing, development and homebuilding. 

By Christine Giordano 

April 18, 2016, at 9:12 a.m. 

As winter blustered through his Cleveland hometown, Steve Novotny may have been a world away, pulling his sailboat up to a dock in sunny Florida on his way to the Bahamas.

Four years ago he plunged into the rental business as a handyman by buying a house that had a decent location but needed huge repairs. "It took all of my savings to buy it," he says. "I actually lived in my truck while I was renting houses out for the first two years."

Now he looks for so-called "handyman specials" – houses with at least three bedrooms that are in nice locations but need repair. He now owns nine houses and the rental income allows him to sail around the country.

Many investors like Novotny are seeking to get into the rental market to create passive income to fuel their lifestyles, and the rental market in the United States is still rising.

Since 2005, the number of households that rent has hiked to 37 percent, a jump of 9 million and the largest increase by decade since 1965, according to a December study by Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. This is on track to be the "strongest decade of renter growth ever recorded," according to the study, and hikes in rent are outpacing inflation. 

Traditionally, investors have looked for quick returns by flipping houses after a swift remodeling. "While flipping can be lucrative, it can also tie up your money if the home doesn't sell immediately," says Corey Brinkman, market vice president of Renters Warehouse, a property management company in St. Louis.

"Plus, it's a one-time benefit once the house sells. Renting out a property can provide income month after month and free up your cash flow to invest in other places," he says.

But investors should enter the market with caution because it is easy to underestimate the costs of repairs and upkeep on your rental unit. "A good rule of thumb is to calculate anywhere from 7 to 15 percent for these unforeseen repairs, depending on the age of the rental property," Brinkman says.

Here is some advice from experts to keep your rental money flowing in the right direction. 

Keep your goals in mind. Investors need to know why they are in the rental market and what they want to accomplish financially, says Wendell De Guzman, chief executive of the real estate investment firm, PCI in Chicago.

If the goal is to live passively off the rental income, then investors should know how much income they'll need. The tax rate changes as income becomes passive, says De Guzman, and "your tax rate can be zero percent" because you can deduct the depreciation from your taxable income.

For example, an investor who pays $275,000 for a house would divide it by 27.5 (years) for depreciation and shield $10,000 in income annually.

Put your financial house in order. Knowing your income and expenses will help you get loans and, subsequently, buy more property, De Guzman says. Don't forget to include taxes, insurance, maintenance, management, utilities and the reserves for major repairs, like a new roof.

It also pays to learn financing and talk with mortgage brokers to find programs to buy the property with as little money down as possible. First-time homeowners might buy a four-unit apartment building, get an Federal Housing Administration loan with a 3.5-percent down payment, collect the security deposit and, if you close early enough in the month, use the first month's prorated rent toward the down payment, De Guzman says.

Learn your market's vacancy rates and property ratings. There are areas rated A through F, and they all sell and rent for different rates. Keep your vacancy rate to 5 percent or less, De Guzman says, so you won't be stuck with an unrented property for months at a time.

If you don't want to be a property babysitter, avoid the areas with the lesser ratings. Areas with F ratings often have the most violent crimes in the neighborhood. "It's tough being there. You have to watch your investment like a hawk," he says.

A-rated areas often mean higher sales prices but lead to higher rents and more regular tenants. "You'll have fewer headaches if you're dealing with renters who can afford a more expensive rent. You don't want to be dealing with the bottom-of-the-barrel (properties) if you plan on being an absentee landlord," Novotny says. 

Look for real estate with great potential. Properties that tend to do well are near schools, expanding retail or trendy points of interest, local transportation, or surrounding malls, says Daniel Sanchez, commercial associate partner of Partners Trust Commercial in Beverly Hills, California.

Once it's yours, maintain the exterior and keep your costs down with desert landscaping, low-flow toilets and tankless water heaters, he says. 

Keep your options open. Consider smaller markets within secondary markets, how well the house was built and how much people are paying rent in the neighborhood. "I want to be in the $800-to-$900 range in the secondary market," says Yariv Bensira, owner of Hyde Capital in Memphis, Tennessee, who came to the country to attend college and now who owns and handles 4,000 units with a private investment fund in Israel.

Before buying, he checks how well the house was framed, who the tenants would be and what he can add to the property to reasonably increase the rent. "You're not going to change the demographic or bring in completely new people. The question is whether the existing tenants can pay a little more for a better product," he says.

Don't be lured by low interest rates. If a property is already 30 years old and would cost the same to build it, then don't buy it, Bensira says. Make sure your home has enough value to get the returns you want when you eventually sell the property. 

Renovate the kitchen and bathrooms to get higher rent. Quality granite in the kitchencould save you resurfacing costs, and bring in an extra $50 to $90 per month, Bensira says. Be sure to know how much renovations cost so that you know if you're getting a fair bid. 

Screen the tenants. Have an application process and use a service such as National Tenant Network to look for civil and criminal lawsuits, recent collection activity and credit scores above 600, says De Guzman. "Look for people who were down financially, but now are on their way up with a good job and some savings, who have been paying their bills for the past four years," he says.

See Full Article HERE

‘The Closer’ shows how global economic instability grew from very local greed

Our client, "The Closer" movie.

A comprehensive look and review on

When I saw the recent Academy Award-winning film “The Big Short,” I was struck by the sheer genius of the financiers who devised the schemes and packaged the loans for resale, but it left me with unanswered questions about how the properties these loans represented were moved. “The Big Short” was largely about paper transactions, big money, and wealthy investors, and it mildly touched on the way the actual end-users—the home buyers and brokers—played into this scheme.

For every packaged loan transaction, credit default swap, and synthetic collateralized debt obligation handled by the men in suits, there are actual people and properties being bet on. It begged the questions of how these properties were moved, who was on the ground in these risky neighborhoods, and just how were these transactions put together?

Three Israeli real estate brokers, developers, and property managers based in Brooklyn were in the heart of the real estate boom prior to the big bust of 2008. They were buying dilapidated properties, renovating them, and then reselling them—usually to people who could only obtain loans through the controversial government-backed programs that encouraged property ownership even for those who could not afford it.

What they saw were greedy mortgage brokers, shady developers, and likely inept or corrupted appraisers, and they witnessed firsthand the dealmaking on the ground to get these properties sold, which would then yield a risky mortgage to be packaged by the bankers depicted by “The Big Short.” It inspired them to write a screenplay and develop a story to share with the world—the 2015 movie “The Closer.”

From a chance meeting in 2010, while working in real estate to offset his passion for film, former Israel Defense Forces photographer Eli Hershko met developer Isaac Broyn and his partner Victor Barnes, a former master engineer in a fighting jet squadron in the Israeli Air Force. Being involved in the same markets of lower-income Brooklyn, they shared their stories of challenges stemming from the then-recent market collapse. In talking, they realized that there was a common interest in telling this story to the world. So they embarked on the ambitious project of developing a compelling story based on some very real experiences they witnessed, encountered, or learned about through industry peers.

Ultimately, “The Closer” evolved and is on the film festival circuit this year, launching in Buffalo, N.Y., and Palm Beach, Fla., then coming to Hawaii and New York City, to name a few host cities. It is a self-financed film shot over the course of 28 days, pulling favors all over Brooklyn, from the local police and property managers to bars and shops used as sets. 

The movie stars Robert Berlin as the military unit commander and a ruthless broker who only cares about making money to fund his lavish lifestyle, Christopher Kloko as his right-hand man, Patrick Duke Conboy as the initially unwitting loner trying to escape the nightmares of war when their buddy was killed by a sniper.

The film itself is a drama, with action, heated anger, a love story, and a tale of a friendship that begins in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, as a U.S. military unit, and extends to the tough streets of Brooklyn. It quickly establishes the characters and their associations, their friendships and post-war personalities, before getting into the fast-paced and sometimes shady underworld of the low-income real estate market.

“The Closer” explores the methods used to get loans approved for high-risk borrowers, and the way emotions are played to convince the prey that home ownership is good for them. It covers the violent turf and gang wars over neglected buildings in poor neighborhoods, the removal of squatters, and the corruption in the appraisal process. Basically, it shows the bottom rungs of the banking scandals that brought the market down. For every unprincipled finance vehicle created by the bankers, “The Closer” shows the voracious property and mortgage brokers sowing the seeds of catastrophe so that they can buy Rolex watches and Mercedes-Benz cars.

The films also contains a love story, including how money and greed affect families and loved ones. It also presents a test of the loyalties between a commander and his troops. There are Russian mobsters, street thugs, exotic dancers, car crashes, and shootouts, and it all comes together in a compelling action film surrounding the local Brooklyn streets, the atmosphere built by greed, and the corruption that literally rose from the ground up to the towers of Wall Street.

Eli Hershko, Isaac Broyn, and Victor Baranes just elevated themselves from unknown real estate entrepreneurs to the competitive world of Hollywood and the indie film market. They have built a solid little picture that will compel moviegoers and give us all some appreciation for how a major international economic scandal was born on small streets in our very neighborhoods, all around us.

Link to the article: The Closer Movie

Our Client: "The Closer Movie" on WPBF-ABC 25 Morning Show in Palm Beach

We're pleased to announce that our firm, Herald Strategies, has been working hard to promote "The Closer" movie, which is a film about the 2008 real estate market boom and bust, and the greed and malicious behaviors that led to the crash and the Great Recession. The film's director, Eli Hershko and executive producer, Isaac Broyn - and many of the main cast members - are currently in Palm Beach for the Palm Beach International Film Festival. The film will be premiering at the film festival on Saturday, April 9th at 1:55pm at the Cinemark Theater in Boca Raton. This is the world premiere and a very exciting time for "The Closer."

Through our efforts and connecting with the nice people at ABC affiliate, WPBF-ABC 25 news in Palm Beach, we were able to get director, Eli Hershko and executive producer, Isaac Broyn an opportunity to discuss the film and the world premiere with morning show host/anchor Stephanie Berzinski. See the link to their interview here: The Closer Movie on WPBF-ABC 25 in Palm Beach.

To learn more about the film or for press inquiries, please visit: and/or contact Warren H. Cohn at

The Closer Movie Press Kit

The Closer Movie - Press Kit

The Closer is a tale of friendship and betrayal between three friends set against the backdrop of the biggest boom & bust in the subprime real estate market. Our film is inspired by true events and approaches the 2008 housing crisis from a street-level view in low income areas of Brooklyn, NY, and is written from the perspective of developers, lenders, and home buyers. There is love, friendship, pain, hardship, and the testing of friendships and trust...all wrapped into a thrilling ride that will glue you to your seat.

The Closer was written and produced by Writer/Director/Producer Eli Hershko and Brooklyn-based real estate experts & investors turn filmmakers, Isaac Broyn and Victor barnes who witnessed the 2008 housing crisis first-hand and felt compelled to share their incredible and trying experiences.

Directed by: Award winning director Eli Hershko who’s debut film Titled “carl(a) has garnered himthe 2013 Canada International Film Festival Award of Excellence for Feature Film, and 2013 Best original screen play in the Long Island International Film Expo as well as earned him nominations in the best feature and best director categories.


Written by:   

Writer/Director/Producer – Eli Hershko

Writer/Executive Producer – Isaac Broyn

Writer – Victor Baranes



Palm Beach International Film Festival – April 9th @ 1:55pm

Buffalo Niagara Film Festival - April 17th @ 1:30pm

Manhattan Film Festival - April 19th @ 9pm




Herald Strategies



Director’s Statement

The Closer is a passion project of Isaac Broyn and Myself. The movie was self financed and shot over 28 days pulling favors all over town. Isaac and his partner Victor who worked as real estate developers in Brooklyn for over 20 years met me when I was working part time in the field of real estate while shooting films and photographing celebrities for magazine covers.  Isaac always wanted to make movies and the 2008 real estate burst gave both of us the impetus to come together on a project that involved a world we all knew very well. Ironically the real estate burst planted the seed to “THE CLOSER” in our minds separately since we didn’t meet till 2010. We both had this very similar idea of what movie we wanted to make on our own. When we finally met in 2010 and realized that our ideas for a movie are practically the same, we knew that fate has brought us together to make this film which combines our knowledge of the real estate world mixed in with the pure desire to make a film so we decided to collaborate.

As developers, Isaac saw the activity from the street.  We have all seen and heard the way the banks and Wall Street fueled the collapse through greed and financial schemes, but the truth is that they could only create the market because Wall Street’s greed trickled down to the level of the same people in the industry who were building the buildings and selling the properties.  Since no stories have yet been told from the street level, stories of how the activities we  read about in the newspaper and heard on the street affected the subprime low income areas like East New York in Brooklyn and the similar areas around the country, we wanted to show this calamity from the street perspective.  It is important to understand that greed can make people and institutions do awful things.

Most people don't realize that when you make a film, you are making three different films at the same time.  The first is when write it.  The second is when you are filming the movie and modify the story along the way.  The third time is in the editing room where you put together all the pieces and mostly end up with a different movie you started with.

The Closer was inspired by the true collapse of the real estate market specifically speaking local to our market. We hope it as entertaining as it is educational, and that our experiences can shed light on what happens at the very basic levels, aided by Wall Street’s greed that fueled this craziness.

Eli Hershko - Director/Producer/Writer/Cinematographer

Originally from Israel, Eli graduated from Haifa school of the arts joined the Israeli Defense Force where he served as a photographer and later as a teacher of photography. After his Honorable discharge as a Sergeant he studied at WIZO Art College in Haifa, then graduated from the New York Film Academy Digital Film Program. 


Eli has worked as a professional photographer, shooting album and magazine covers for popular artists including: Biggie Smalls, Bjork, Public Enemy, Naughty by Nature, SpaceHog, The Backstreet Boys, Cake, Garbage and Tony Bennett.


In 2012 he finished post production on his first feature film titled “Carla” starring 2012 EMMY nominated actor Mark Margolis and 2013 EMMY nominated actor Lavern Cox of “Orange is the New Black” Netflix Original Series. The film was entered in the 2013 film festival circuits and had won awards. The film was theatrically released in December 2015, and currently it is being distributed on various VOD platforms.


Working under the banner of Conjured Visions Films, Hershko continues to write, produce, direct and shoot TV spots as well as create viral films and web content for various clients and ad agencies.


In July 2014, Principal photography for Hershko’s new feature film titled “The Closer” wrapped, and the film is being entered in the film festival circuit.  It is slated to screen nationally and internationally through 2016.


Pre Production has commenced on Hershko newest project titled "Fairy Tale" slated to shoot in the 3rd Q of 2016.

Isaac Broyn - writer, executive producer

For over seventeen years, Isaac Broyn has been involved in the real estate business. He opened his first office in Queens New York in 1998 when he focused on purchasing neglected, multi-family properties and converting them into remarkable homes, inside and out.

Most of Isaac’s properties are focused in Brooklyn, New York, and since 2002, he has been building brand new multi-family homes between six and eight families, as well as multi-unit apartments, penthouses, condominiums, duplexes, and commercial space.


Isaac has gained a tremendous amount of insight in this market, and continues to create tasteful architecture. So much that he has built business and personal friendships with the people and companies who help make his dream possible.


His experiences in real estate and renovating in developing areas of Brooklyn have given him a unique insight into the issues that directly caused the 2008 in the industry.  He decided to write a screenplay with his colleagues about those experiences, and The Closer is his inaugural film project. Mr. Broyn was directly involved in the making of The Closer throughout the process, which included being on location every day of filming, working with the actors and on screenplay edits on set. His insights and deep knowledge of the real estate industry were invaluable and this film wouldn’t have come to fruition without this knowledge and his financing and producing of this film. 

Victor Baranes - Writer, Producer

Victor, immigrated to the United States at age 22 from Israeli, having first served as a Master Engineer in a fighting Jet Squadron in the Israeli Air Force. Having been honorably discharged at the rank of Master Sergeant, Victor pursued his dream of being a professional surfer.  As a leader of the sport in Israel, he had won professional sponsorship and moved from Israel to Hawaii to compete.  Following a short surfing career, he moved to New York and got started in the real estate business, forming a partnership with Isaac Broyn.


Together they established a real estate development company that generating more than $35 million in revenue per year, employing more than 60 people.  Recently, his company expanded into developing low rise condominium building throughout Brooklyn.


As a hands-on, creative entrepreneur Victor is heavily involved in the architecture and design of his projects. 


In addition to real estate, Victor develops games and applications for the internet and iPhone, and helped produce THE CLOSER feature film, as his entrée into film making.

Something happened during filming – Eli Hershko (director)

The most important aspect for me when I tell a story is whether or not people believe the characters and the story. I write the script in a vacuum; period. And no matter how hard you work to flesh out a character; you are just one person, one writer trying to capture many voices. Often, when I have my final draft I do a table read in order to “hear” the characters. Later when the movie is cast I do not rehearse the lines. I refused to do so. Instead I would spend time with each "talking Character" over many weeks during pre production period, over lunches or coffee, and we will talk about the motivation of the character and whether the dialogue works or not. I ask the actors if they feel comfortable saying the dialogue I’ve written for them and often I ask them for their own words and ideas. I want them to mesh with the character they portray in the movie and by allowing them to use their own words and improvise, I help make this process easier on them.

Movies are often not filmed chronologically; this is done in order to accommodate locations, schedules and budgets but certain scenes should not be forced to accommodate scheduling. For instance, I now know never to ask my actors to film the final scene of the movie in the first week of shooting.  It just doesn't work and I had to learn that the hard way on set where we had to shut down a production day since it didn’t work emotionally for the character... luckily we picked up the day towards the end of production. Once the actors become familiar with the film and the characters, and the “emotional growth” of the character was more chronological, it felt  so much more true and real and as such it came across coherently on camera.


For my next feature project titled “Fair Tale” I am going to completely abandon all traditional film making and approach my next project in a very different way. In my quest for the ultimate "live in the moment" which is the Holy Grail for actors and directors alike, I intend to explore that phrase and put it to the test. (Shooting will start towards the end of 2016).


The Funnier Side of Stunts, on a small budget

This is an action drama, and even though it was a shoe-string budget  we still needed some action sequences.  We have one here that called for the main character of The Closer to get hit by a car, and didn't want to have our lead man really get hit with a car over and over again, so we hired a wonderful stuntman named Paul Mann.  On our budget, we had only an hour and half to execute this scene, which was a challenge.

Paul assured me that he’s be alright and that I should not worry about him or the stunt, but having a Jewish mother made me worry anyway.  I was asking a person to get hit by a car at 40mph over and over again until the scene is perfect.  Nerve wracking!


Two weeks before the scene, Paul saw my anxiety and told me about a new technology; a special protective suit that is soft and rubbery under your clothes, but hardens into armor when it is impacted by a blunt force.  Without hesitating I ordered the suit for him, and Paul got hit by the car time and time again until it was right and believable.  Out of gratitude I gave him the protective suit as a gift when we finished the shoot.

The Closer



Jessica Park

Carson Grant

Johnny Sibilly

Elizabeth Dennis

Christopher Kardos

Alex Witherow

Erika Longo

Robert Berlin

Eli Hershko

Brandon deSpain

Paul Mann

Ryan F. Johnson

Lee Baptiste

Yury Yakor

Vincent Leong

Jacqueline King-Howell

Isa Frias

Sarah Gordon

Patrick Duke Conboy

Augustus Wilson

Christopher Kloko

Andrew Scott Francis

Dorsea Palmer

Kevin Martinez Rivera


Adam P. Murphy

James Lee

Danielle Leaf

Jay Wells L'Ecuyer

Lilly Cadoch

Comfort Katchy

Ralph Petrarca

Ellen Karis

Sharon Palmer

Aiden Meshman

Jermaine Small

Cedric Benjamin

Bridgette Chantel

Cedric Darius

Andres Emanuel Pina

Timothy C. Floyd

Andre Gauthier

Hila Naus

Emilio Ramon Gomez

Brett Roman Williams

Patrick Giordano

Christopher Herr


Filmmakers & Crew


Eli Hershko



Isaac Broyn



Isaac Broyn

Eli Hershko

Victor Baranes



Isaac Broyn, Executive Producer

Sharon Broyn, Co-Producer

Eli Hershko, Producer

Eytan Millstone, Producer

Kip Baker, Associate Producer

David Spaltro, Consulting Producer



Erez Koskas



Mike Gomes



Desiree Lavoy



Alina Uzlov



Celeste Montalvo



Brie Puneky, Makeup Artist

Ashley K. Thomas, Key Makeup Artist



Jay Wells L'Ecuyer, Second Assistant Director

Ruben Rodas, Second Unit Director



Niki Broyn, Set Designer



Rafi Chen, Sound Designer



Paul Mann, Stunt Coordinator



Nikki Broyn, Still Photographer

Mike Gomes, Camera Operator

Herald Client, Real Estate Investor Yariv Bensira, in the Memphis Business Journal

An apartment complex near Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital is about to get a multi-million dollar renovation.

Memphis Business Journal: Meagan Nichols

The Blair Tower Apartments, located at 810 Washington Ave., was purchased Feb. 1 for $9.75 million by New York-based Hyde Capital. The new owner plans to give the building a $4 million facelift.

Yariv Ben-Sira, principal and owner of Hyde Capital, said the remodel will include updates to common areas and units, such as added amenities like a coffee bar and improvements to the rooftop pool.

The company also intends to capitalize on Blair Tower’s location by targeting medical students and interns. Currently 40 percent of Blair Tower tenants are in the medical field, and the company wants to grow that figure to 70 percent.

“You need to see that you aren’t interrupting the livelihood of tenants and, at the same time, you want to finish it as quickly as you can,” Ben-Sira said. “We are going to try our best to do it in a year, but every property is different, so maximum two years for the whole thing to be renovated.”

Ben-Sira said they will also reserve a few units for short-term leases that could be rented for one or two months. These units will be marketed towards the families of patients being treated in the surrounding hospitals.

Unit prices are expected to rise slightly after the renovations, but Ben-Sira said they have not finalized those numbers. Renovations are scheduled to start in a month.

“I think you see a lot of development in Midtown, and there is development going on Downtown,” Ben-Sira said. “I don’t think the Blair Tower area is right there. ... This development of ours at Blair will take two years, and I think, in three or four years, you are going to see the whole area changing.”

Hyde Capital is also finalizing a contract on another piece of land located on Front Street. Ben-Sira would not give the exact address since the deal was not done, but said it was across the street from the Spaghetti Warehouse. The plan would be to do a ground-up construction of a new 160-unit apartment complex.

“Most likely a two tower with parking and a nice pool in between, but it is in the works,” Ben-Sira said.

Hyde Capital started buying properties in Memphis in 2013. They also have a footprint in Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga, with a combined total of 4,000 units across Tennessee.

Ben-Sira said they like doing business in Memphis because they are familiar with the area. Lennox Companies, a property management company for Hyde Capital, is headquartered in Memphis. Hyde Capital owns Lennox Companies.

“When you look, especially in Downtown Memphis, you see a lot of new development and you compare that to what I saw in Nashville three, four years ago. It is kind of the same thing, but smaller,” Ben-Sira said. “I think the Downtown development is great for the city.”

Link to the article:

Herald Client: Prominent Rabbi, Aaron Raskin Hosts Rally and Peace March

We were terribly saddened to hear that this past Sunday evening, January 31st at 6:18 P.M. our client: prominent rabbi, community leader, author and pulpit rabbi Aaron Raskin of Congregation Bnai Avraham in Brooklyn Heights, was attacked. Rabbi Raskin was assaulted on Joralemon Street in Brooklyn Heights, while walking home from his synagogue. Luckily, he was not terribly hurt, and he thanks G-d for protecting him and safeguarding him. In response to this attack - and the rumblings of other similar attacks and violence in Brownstone Brooklyn - Rabbi Raskin decided to stand up and unite the community against violence.

This past Monday, Rabbi Raskin asked our team at Herald Strategies to start an initiative called: BHU or Brooklyn Heights United. The idea was to hold a press conference and rally to unite the community, religious and community leaders, and elected officials against violence. Through our efforts and dedication and through the support of many Brooklyn Heights organizations and community groups, we were able to host this rally and show tremendous community unity.

A group of over 100+ attended this event today - despite heavy snow and cold weather - and the rabbi was joined by US Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez (NY-7), State Senator Daniel Squadron, Assemblywoman JoAnne Simon, Councilman Stephen Levin, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and representatives from the NYC Public Advocate, NYC Comptroller, Senator Velmanette Montgomery, and Senator Jesse Hamilton's offices. In addition, there were ministers, priests, reverends, and other rabbis from throughout Brooklyn and New York City to lend their support.

It was a real triumph and huge show of support to the rabbi. Despite bad weather, our community and it's leaders gathered to stand up to violence. The rabbi will be working with local elected officials, community leaders and the Guardian Angels to think of ways to educate our youth and prevent these crimes and assaults from happening in the first place.

After the rally, which had to be moved inside (many thanks to the Brooklyn Bar Association and it's executive director Avery Eli Okin for opening their doors on short notice and allowing us to host the event in their auditorium) the rabbi led a peace march through the streets of Brooklyn Heights to the location where he was attacked. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said a few words and the Rabbi Raskin led the group in prayers.

Again, it was/is terrible that this incident occurred and we sincerely hope that these assaults no longer happen in Brooklyn Heights and throughout the city. We are hopeful because the rabbi was able to turn this horrific assault into a tremendous positive, by bringing our community leaders and elected officials together, and by calling on everyone to work together to fight and prevent crime, to better educate our youth, and to report any incidents that occur so that the NYPD can solve the crimes and better protect and serve throughout the city.

Thanks to all who came out today and a special thanks to the 84th precinct for apprehending the perpetrator of this crime swiftly.