I had a chance this past weekend at Silicon Valley Comic-Con 2016 to interview the cofounders of Legion M, a new company owned by the fans. Paul Scanlan and Jeff Anison, CEO and President, gave me the lowdown on what their plans are for the company, how they created it, and why fans should get onboard.
After the interview, Paul also noted that content creators could have chances to submit material to the company, so all you future directors/producers/screenwriters/etc. should start polishing your skills.
HyperGeeky: First, can I get an introduction from you two?
PAUL SCANLAN: Hi, I’m Paul Scanlan. I’m cofounder and CEO of Legion M.
JEFF ANISON: I’m Jeff Anison. I’m cofounder and president of Legion M.
HG: Can you give me a background of what Legion M is?
PAUL: Sure. Legion M is the world’s first fan-owned entertainment Company. So for the first time in history, we’re allowing fans to come in, invest in our company, and be a part of the creation of movies, TV shows, etc.
HG: What kind of projects can fans look forward to that you guys are possibly going to create.
JEFF: All sorts of stuff. We’re looking at movies, television, web content. Even some of the new frontiers like virtual reality, interactive television, augmented reality – that sort of stuff. We’re working with some top tier Hollywood providers including Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, which is the creators of the Robot Chicken. Meltdown Entertainment, which is a world famous comic book shop and comedy club and techie innovator and all that sort of stuff in Hollywood. And 42 Entertainment which is a premier alternate reality gaming company.
HG: So what’s the response been like so far? How excited are people getting over this company?
PAUL: We launched at the show, so we’ve been overwhelmed by the response from fans, from the industry. Even Silicon Valley Comic-Con is, you know, has received us with open arms. Steve Woz and Stan Lee have been very supportive of our endeavor. They’ve gotten very excited about it. They let us park our ’59 Cadillac in the lobby when we got here this morning.
So, yeah, we’re excited. But I would say the most gratifying thing about being here is the reaction we’re getting from fans. Jeff said, This is something that is, to a large degree, overdue, you know? Why aren’t fans more involved financially, and emotionally, and in the creation of content? And, you know, so this is something that we’re finally delivering up.
HG: So what could the average fan who signs up – how far is their money going to go? How much control do they get? Do they get to have input on what kind of movies you make, or who you’re going to cast?
JEFF: Yeah, that’s a great question. We definitely want to bring new fans in, and as an investor you get backstage access. You get to come along for the ride and be part of it.
We also – your voice will be heard. There’s a lot of things that you will have the opportunity to vote on or give your opinions on. At the end of the day, we all know that great art isn’t made by committee, and so, for the projects that we’re developing, our job is to empower these amazing creators to create content. And so, where it makes sense and where there are opportunities – all these people who we’re working with who want to put stuff out — it’s awesome for them to be able to show you different things. I mean Stoopid Buddy [Stoodios] is a great example. They’ve got dozens of, like, pilots, and ideas, and treatments, and we can put that out in front of people, get feedback from them. But at the end of the day, it’s the proven creators that will be responsible for making the final decisions.
HG: With something like this, people might be expecting rewards. What kind of rewards can they expect?
PAUL: Yeah, absolutely. We want to be measured by, you know, your engagement, right? There are two things to think about. First, as an investor, you own shares of the company, right? So our first priority is to grow the value of those shares. And if we grow the value of those shares, that’s a big part of how you participate in the rewards, right? The share price goes up.
But importantly, alongside of that, is the emotional ROI. You know, when I buy shares in Disney, or you know, Universal – any of these things — I don’t necessarily buy, like — get to come along for the ride with them. And so, we want our fans and shareholders to measure their total ROI but also how are they emotionally involved? Is this fun for them? Are they engaged? You know, it’s really important for us because it’s a purpose for the Legion – is it just to fund things? It’s to bring fans into the process and to open the gates to Hollywood. Let the fans into the inner circle and go create magic by doing that.
JEFF: It’s also important to note that, you know, when we talk about buying shares in Disney or something like that, you’re buying, you’re investing, you’re buying stock in it. But this isn’t like buying shares in Walt Disney Studios today. This is like buying shares in Walt Disney Studios when it was Walt and Roy and a couple pictures of a mouse. I mean, this is ground floor.
And that’s what’s so revolutionary is that these new laws enabled by the Jobs Act for the first time allow fans to participate at this stage in the development of a company. Up until now, it’s only been venture capitalists, and billionaire, the kind of the top three-percent of the population that have had these sorts of opportunities to come in and come along for the ride.
Everyone kind of has an idea of where you guys are going to be in the future. Obivously you guys want to be huge, and you guys want to do big great things. But what’s on the horizon? What’s in the next, maybe, year or two that you guys have lined up?
PAUL: Just to be clear, I mean, for us it’s — we want to be influential. I don’t know that we’re trying to be big. We want a broad legion.
PAUL: Exactly. So, you know, what you can expect from us – I mean right now, we’re allowing fans to go on and reserve those spots. So we’re not taking money right now. We will be, you know, later this summer when we close the financing, and the IPO goes through.
But there are a few steps to go through with the SEC, so what we recommend right now, is if you’re interested, go to our website thelegionm.com, and it has a lot more information about our background, what we’ve done in the past, who are our creative allies, what have they done, what are the types of projects we’re interested in, what is the schedule, what can you expect, and as a reservation holder – when you make that reservation, it’s non-binding. So if you change your mind later, it’s totally fine. We won’t hold a grudge against you. But when we do go to close some finance, the reservation holders are going to be the first people we go back to. They’ll be the ones that find out, you know, and learn about the projects that we’re getting, the specifics on the projects before we close.
And because it’s an SCC, you know, regulated event, we know that space will be limited, you know. The SCC doesn’t let you just raise as much money as you want. You go through a process, and they have limits. And so we’ll need to adhere to those limits, and so we expect space to be limited. We’re likely to be over some spots. The response has been phenomenal. So if you’re interested, go to the website and reserve that spot. And then, we’ll be giving more information as we get closer to the IP.
HG: Say someone invests in your first movie, and then in the second movie they decide for whatever reason not to, is there a way to get back in for the next movie after that?
JEFF: So, just to be clear, this isn’t like Kickstarter or Indiegogo where you’re investing in a specific project. You’re investing in the company, and then we are working with the creative allies to develop all of these projects. And so, you’re really a part of all of these projects. So, once you buy your shares, you will have the opportunity to sell your shares. So it’s not like you’re stuck in it forever. It’s like owning a share of Apple Computer. When you get tired, or you need the money, or, you know, maybe it goes up, and you’re like, “Oh this is great!” You know. You can always sell it and get out.
Conversely, there will, you know, be opportunities to get in in the future. But, like [PAUL] said earlier, you’re buying in – you’re buying your share of stock. Our job is to make the value of that stock go up. And, you know, because it’s such an early stage opportunity, hopefully it’s going to go up very, very dramatically.
PAUL: I mean, this is ground tier, right, and we’re making history with this company. This hasn’t been possible before, and now it is. And we’re partnering with top-tier talent, so you know, it’s only up from here.
HG: Is there anything else you guys want to add?
JEFF: I don’t think so, other than thank you so much!
PAUL: Yeah, thank you!
JEFF: You know, like, this is fantastic.
PAUL: Join our legion. We’re going to have fun.