I found out about Legion M in a not so typical way. A friend told me about this crazy and really fun movie called Mandy. The conversation went something like this:
My Friend: Hey, do you like chainsaws?
Me: Hell yes, I do! Who doesn’t?
My Friend: Then you have to check out this movie called Mandy! Nic Cage is the lead.
It wasn’t the typical pitch but it definitely got me intrigued. Not just about the movie but about the companies behind it that would produce such a masterpiece (Yes, Mandy is that good!). And one company’s name really caught my eye, Legion M.
Let me ask you this; How much more interested would you be in a film or television series if you had shares in the company that produced it? How much more likely would you be to watch it? How much more likely would you be to spread the word on social media about this show or film? Some very intelligent people asked these questions and came up with Legion M, the world’s first fan owned entertainment company
I did some research and found that what Legion M did was so cutting edge and forward thinking that I had no choice but to instantly want it to succeed in the biggest way possible. Sure, Legion M produces TV, films, VR experiences. However, it’s their understanding of how to turn investors into fans and fans into investors that separates them from other entertainment companies.
When I was offered the opportunity to interview Jeff Annison, Legion M’s Co-Founder and President at Wondercon 2019, I jumped at the chance.
James Gavsie (GWW): So, what made you and Paul Scanlan (Co-Founder and CEO of Legion M) say: Crowdfunding for a big entertainment company? Yes. That’s a great idea. It’s never beens done before but let’s do that!’ What exactly made that happen?
Jeff Annison (Legion M): I don’t think we can take credit for the idea. Like a lot of people say it’s such a no brainer, right?
GWW: Absolutely! I’ve heard of individual film and television projects using crowdfunding but never an actual company.
JA: Here’s the thing, if you can create a legion of passionate fans that are behind your movies and TV shows there’s an obvious competitive advantage when you bring it to market because you’ve got a massive audience that’s already invested in it. They’re going to come out opening night. They’re going to bring their friends. We’re going to talk about it on social media. And they’re going to create the sort of marketing buzz that frankly a studio would kill for. As you alluded to there are some real interesting advantages when it comes to having data. And if there’s anything that the rise of digital platforms and content in all its iterations has taught us it’s the power of data. And we think that having a community of people that are invested in the company and who have a stake in its success gives us a repeatable source of data. There’s nothing else out there like data that can give us a huge competitive advantage. And so it’s kind of a no-brainer idea.
GWW: Ok, if it was such a no-brainer idea why hadn’t anyone or any other group tried this before?
JA: Well, up until 2016 it just wasn’t possible. The securities laws prevented it. We were lucky enough to be around when the change happened (referencing the Jobs Act). We were smart enough to see the opportunity and say ‘Wow, this is an amazing idea’ and it’s a once in a lifetime disruptive change to the playing field that is going to enable equity investing in the form of crowdfunding.
GWW: This sounds like it was a very big and risky play.
JA: It was and we were crazy enough to go for it. And here we are today. We were lucky!
GWW: What’s that expression? Luck happens when preparedness meets opportunity?
JA: Right. I think that’s what it was and I’m a huge proponent of that. I mean. luck is so important and anything that you do. But you can kind of make your own luck just by.working hard and being prepared.
GWW: You know, I did some research on Legion M and you seem to have a team that is second to none. Which I think is a huge part of anyone’s success, right?