‘Angel Investors’… it’s an odd term to describe. Is it all cold hard business like Dragons’ Den, or is a well-meaning but clueless collective who has money to burn in a bonfire of your choice? Like most extreme comparison set-ups, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
What to do if you have an idea that has some serious legs, but can’t afford to develop it? There’s crowdfunding of course, but that still requires you to start hawking your new baby out to the general public when it may not be ready to ensnare the ‘disinterested browser’ type just yet. Successful Kickstarter / Indiegogo campaigns tend to be run by people who already have their team hired, a promo shot, the scripts written, the cast lined up, etc, all that is needed is some cash to pay everyone for their time and then the show can get made. Your little fluttering bird of a concept may be nowhere near that prepped. What to do, indeed?
You could be exactly the kind of person that Wildseed Studios is looking to invest in.
Up and running since June, Wildseed Studios is investing in new intellection properties (IPs) from emerging talent and established creators looking to work in new ways. Wildseed Studios is adopting a portfolio approach to development – investing up to £10,000 into each of 50 new projects over the next 3 years, with follow-on investment available for projects that make a connection with an audience.
You submit your idea into a public ‘drop-box’, and Wildseed get in touch to discuss it. The focus is on character driven material, in order to ensure that nothing ends up in that ‘great idea but for some reason couldn’t connect to it’ bin of forgotten concepts.
Once a dialogue is started between you and Wildseed there is a bit of legality to go through (check the Wildseed FAQs here. Pleasingly, Wildseed offer to pay some money towards legal fees to ensure that independent legal advice is an option for those on limited means) and then you both get to knuckle down and discuss the nitty-gritty of how to make your idea a commercial reality.
I spoke to Jesse Cleverly, co-founder of Wildseed Studios, about what it’s like to incubate an idea. “To see any idea through from “page to stage” is always hugely satisfying,” he said, “but the fact that we are working so directly with emerging creators and piloting ideas without needing to refer to a 3rd party publishing platform (such as a TV network) makes what we do very immediate hugely empowering and very rewarding for all concerned.”
Once the idea is hammered out, the next step is to test the waters of the general public – and to figure out how best to do that. Will a series of comics lead interest into your fan-baiting web series? Then let’s do that. Does your character have such strength that they can do straight to camera promos to drum up some grassroots support? No problem. Wildseed claim to not only want to help develop your idea, but also help to drive interest towards it.
Wildseed was set up by Jesse Cleverly and Miles Bullough. As I detailed in my previous article covering Wildseed project work-in-progress, Hunger Ford, Cleverly has plenty of experience in successfully selling scripts to the Hollywood machine, whilst Bullough is a former Head of Productions from the incredibly successful Aardman Animations, and was behind the production of many other hit shows. These guys know what makes a sellable idea and, without wanting to crush creativity, they want to help you make your idea a workable, and bankable, reality.
Here’s a really fun article from Bullough – Wildseed Studio’s Managing Director – about how angel investing pays dividends compared to traditional pitch and promote. When I asked Cleverly about how Wildseed’s ethos differs from the tradition pitching system, he said:-
“[Wildseed] are not interested in years of paper development. We do not bend people’s creative vision to fit the tastes of a commissioner somewhere else. We pilot ideas in conversation with their intended audience. You won’t get a script commission from us – you’ll get cash to go out and make something, and then you will enter into a dialogue with an audience about what worked and what did not.
He continued, “For some creators this feels rather threatening – for others very empowering – but we feel very certain that in the age of social media, the reactions of the crowd are going to become a very powerful tool in iterative creative processes. None of this isn’t new – it’s how storytelling started – in dialogue with communities gathered around the village fire.”
Wildseed are at pains to highlight that your idea is only the beginning of a productive relationship that they want to foster. What they are more interested in is you. Are you the sort of creative person that will benefit from some expert knowledge, to the point where you can hit a mutually beneficial position of strength? Investment is just that, a punt.
Any money they spend on developing your ideas will never be charged back to you, according to Wildseed. They are risking cold hard cash on your potential – with the obvious deal being that they get a cut of your future profits.
Case in point – I previously covered Hunger Ford, a zombie project directed by the ridiculously talented Drew Casson. On Hunger Ford, Cleverly said, “We put our faith in a 19-year-old director with incredible vision, passion and talent – but very little experience of delivering character driven emotionally charged narrative. Now, six months later, we are looking at a feature-length story, shot in beautiful 4k with many tens of fantastic special effects shots – but most importantly we are looking at an emotionally powerful story about characters we care about.”
In addition to Hunger Ford, Wildseed have launched a YouTube channel to feature their projects. “A YouTube Channel will be a big part of what we do” said Bullough, “but we are also working with creators who, for example, want to produce a printed comic first and that is really exciting for us where there are great characters at the heart of the idea”.
Included on the channel are promos and trailers for shows such as:-
“Our first 6 months has all been about rolling out our proposition to the creative community,” said Bullough. “We’ve had a really positive response to our offer and now, as well as maintaining the flow of new ideas coming into the Company, we can ramp up our production pipeline and start setting up our distribution channels. It’s going to be a very busy and very exciting second six months for Wildseed.”
Are you interesting in trying to get your idea off the ground? Wildseed Studios is looking for ideas in four genres: Genre Fiction (Sci-Fi/horror/fantasy), Animated Sitcom, Character Comedy and then also comedy for kids aged between 6 and 11-years-old in both live action and animation.
Visit http://wildseedstudios.com/sending-ideas-to-wildseed to submit your fresh original idea to Wildseed Studios. Who knows? This time next year, I could be writing all about YOUR show. For those who like to see how things develop, you can go follow @wildseedstudios or like their Facebook page.