Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 01/12/22

As I wrote in Monday’s post, if the corporate media continues to offer us a diet of movies and TV shows offering division and discouragement over mutual respect and encouragement then 2022 should be the year we unplug and create something new. Angel Studios, the streaming platform behind the most successful crowdfunded shows of all time, is well on the road to doing that. The company has just raised $47 million to bring control of the entertainment industry back to consumers and creators. The round caps off a major comeback year for co-founders Neal and Jeffrey Harmon, who led the company to over $100 million in annual revenue just one year after Disney and Warner Bros. tried to shut the studio down in court.

The financing was led by Gigafund, a venture capital firm backing the world’s most ambitious and transformative entrepreneurs and Uncorrelated Ventures which invests in infrastructure software. Gigafund is known for being one of the largest investors in SpaceX, as well as other game-changing companies in industries ranging from education and energy to healthcare and housing. Original seed investors Alta Ventures and Kickstart Fund also participated. In addition to the venture backing, five million of the investment round was crowdsourced directly from Angel Studios fans.

Gigafund Managing Partner Stephen Oskoui explains “Angel Studios helps creators build a direct relationship with their fans and produce meaningful and compelling content for hundreds of millions of people who have been underserved by the entertainment industry…”We believe that Angel is on track to rewrite the rules of the media business and have a significant impact on culture.”

Today’s movie business is a $280 billion industry almost totally controlled by five major Hollywood studios (Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures, and Columbia Pictures). With little to no input from consumers, studio executives decide what content to produce in boardrooms behind closed doors – the result being that 80 percent of the films produced by Hollywood echo chamber each year fail to connect with audiences or to break even. Meanwhile, movies that are in sync with there tastes and values can’t find financing. Studios rely on a few major hits – and a system that hinders competition – to maintain the status quo.

As a community-driven movie studio, Angel Studios empowers audiences to decide what content gets produced and distributed while creating communities around each project. Creators pitch projects on the Angel platform and “Angel investors” crowdfund the ones they’re most excited to see (via the Angel Funding Portal). Post-production, content is delivered directly to viewers and goes viral as fans share it with others.

As Angel Co-founder and CEO Neal Harmon puts it “On Angel’s community and streaming platform, artists answer to audiences, not to a Hollywood studio…As our creators invert Hollywood’s abysmal 80 percent failure rate, audiences will win.”

The Angel model has already produced three of the most successful crowdfunded shows of all time, including:

  • The Chosenthe #1 crowdfunded media project in history, viewed over 300 million times to date, with a special in theaters this Christmas.
  • Dry Bar Comedy, the #1 family-friendly stand-up comedy channel, currently on its eighth season with one billion views a year.
  • The Wingfeather Saga, the world’s #1 crowdfunded animated kids show, currently in production.

With this latest funding round, Angel plans to continue improving its streaming platform, market to new audiences, and develop its content pipeline for 2022 and beyond. Harmon notes that “This raise gives us more than funding; it gives us key strategic partners,” adding “Gigafund and Uncorrelated will help us realize our long-term mission of remaking the entertainment industry and freeing both creators and their fans to enjoy the content that they find most important.”

Meanwhile, another successful Angel series, the screwball workplace comedy Freelancers is out with its second season. On Friday, I’ll catch up again with creator/executive producer Natalie Madsen.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
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