So have you heard of Legion M? If not, you must have at least seen their logo. It’s the big red M with the bar on top. They are the fan-owned company that connects the audience with the creators by getting them to literally invest in projects. It’s genius honestly, and something that wasn’t really possible until 2016 when new federal laws finally allowed regular people to invest modest amounts of money into companies. It was this key moment, in fact, when co-founder and president Jeff Annison started the company with fellow co-founder and CEO Paul Scanlan.
Now, after a few years, they have a few key examples that point to this model working. Last year a little film starring Nicholas Cage a revenge-fueled fever dream ended up taking the horror and thriller world by storm thanks. While not the producers of the film, they got MANDY enough exposure and attention that it found its audience and earned substantial returns.
HorrorBuzz was invited to stop by the Legion M booth to chat with Jeff Annison and COO and head of content Terri Lubaroff about the company, upcoming projects that would interest horror fans, and pretty much anything else. As we approached an effervescent Lubaroff, donning custom Legion M Chucks, welcomed me and waved Jeff over to introduce him.
HorrorBuzz: Tell me what Legion M is, for the people that don’t know.
Jeff Annison: We are the world’s first fan-owned entertainment company. We produce movies, T.V. shows, and virtual reality and comic books now with a company that was built, from the ground up, to be owned by fans.
HorrorBuzz: What advantage does that give fans?
Terri Lubaroff: They have a say in what we do. It’s not a democracy where we say ‘Do we do this project or this project?’ because that’s not fair to filmmakers. We are building technology and finding ways to involve our fans and to get their feedback early on in our process.
So we had two great examples that we launched at Sundance. One was the Scout Program and that was a piece of technology that Jeff did that allowed our investors to go online and look at all of the Sundance movies and tell us what they wanted us to focus on as executives when we were out looking for a project to acquire. That was one way that they told us, ‘We are interested in these types of movies.’ and we went out and did that.
We had a similar thing we did with our comic book, GIRL WITH NO NAME which is in resales on Kickstarter. The great thing about doing it that way is we can get people involved in the process. For example, there are three covers. Whichever cover is the most popular by fan choice is the one that we will go with. We are also doing development meetings for feature films. So, anyone that got involved with the Kickstarter gets to be involved in those development meetings with the director and the writer and the producers of the movie and give us some direct feedback on what we did with the book and where we could do better with the characters or casting ideas. It’s a unique model.
HorrorBuzz: It is certainly some new ground. With the digital age, you can easily connect with the fans.
Jeff: Yeah, and you were asking ‘What’s in it for the fans?’ We think this makes it more fun and interesting to have a say in the way things are run. But the other part of it is that it’s really good for the business because we get to leverage the wisdom of the crowd and get the collective-passion insight of all of our shareholders. We have a community of over 85,000 people. It’s nice when we have decisions like, ‘What are we going to invest in at Sundance?’ it’s not just my opinion or Terri’s opinion, we have thousands of people that are sharing their opinions that we think helps us make better decisions as a company.