Our Partnership with Kyle Killen & shelby and sandy
As you may have seen, we recently announced our first StoryCo immersive production - The Disco Ball - in partnership with Kyle Killen and shelby and sandy. You can read more about the production in our blog post here. In this blog post, we wanted to share more background on Kyle and shelby and sandy and explain how we were fortunate enough to partner with such incredible and talented people.
As we began this journey with StoryCo - we worried that partnering with high-level creators who had already broken through the gatekeepers and found success in traditional Hollywood may not be interested in creating in new ways. The more conversations we had, however, we began to notice that many of these creators shared similar frustrations. The more we educated them on how StoryCo could solve the systemic issues they faced, the more their initial skepticism turned into curiosity and excitement.
Today, Hollywood has two main problems that make it increasingly difficult for creators. The first being a creative problem the second being a fiscal problem. High-quality content costs more money to produce than ever before, and spending additional money means studios have to be extra cautious with where they allocate their resources. They do this by investing in familiar or pre-existing IPs (like adapting comics) or giving the project to creators who already have an existing fan base. So if you're a new creator with fresh ideas... best of luck, because frankly, you'll need it.
Another major issue with modern Hollywood is ownership. Last year, the legendary former entertainment executive Jeff Sagansky got on stage at NATPE and finally said out loud what everyone in the industry knows to be true… “we are living in the golden age of content production and the dark age of creative profit sharing.” The recent influx of streamers has resulted in a new "cost-plus" model for creatives, where they receive 10-20% more than their usual pay upfront, but no backend participation. With streaming services owning creators' content globally and indefinitely, there is no such thing as backend royalties anymore. This means that creators miss out on any potential profits from their own creations. If you're interested in learning more about ownership issues in Hollywood, Variety just published a great article on the topic that you can read here.
When it came time to choose a writer for our first production, Kyle Killen’s name was at the top of our list. When I was still a film student at USC back in 2009. I took a side gig - my first ever Hollywood job - helping out in the casting department of Kyle’s first show Lone Star. Kyle’s pilot for that show was the best thing I had read up to that point, and I was reading a lot of scripts. I stayed up-to-date on his work, and we connected again several months ago when I learned from his reps at WME that he was interested in creating content in new ways.
I was ready to give a presentation about StoryCo, but when I got on the zoom call, Kyle and I were both confused. He thought he needed to pitch his story project to me, but I actually thought I was pitching StoryCo to him. In the end, we ended up presenting to each other instead. It turns out that Kyle really believed in the underlying technologies that StoryCo enables and how they could power new forms of storytelling. We knew that Kyle was the perfect creator to become our first Story Architect.
We had a very short list of artists we wanted to work with to design the world, and at the top of that list were Shelby and Sandy. I’ve been following their work and career since 2013, when my friend showed me their Instagram account. I reached out to them soon after to commission a portrait of ET — my wife and I’s favorite movie.
I picked it up at their workspace which was a tiny detached garage in Santa Monica. It hangs in my living room right now. We stayed in touch, I bought another piece of theirs a year later, and I watched their career absolutely explode. They went from being commissioned by nobodies like me, to being commissioned by the who’s who of Hollywood. That tiny detached garage turned into a huge studio warehouse in LA. It’s half art studio, half fun house with a full arcade and soda vending machine that’s free (my childhood dream). I featured them in an episode of a series called ART SCHOOL that I produced with Tyler, the Creator for GOLF MEDIA.
I knew that if we were designing this world, these were the guys we wanted. They’re geniuses and, as someone who works with his brother, it’s nice to see another brother duo get along and work so well together.
Kyle and shelby and sandy fully believe in our StoryCo's vision. They are passionate about teaching new creatives and exploring new ways of upending the existing status quo of Hollywood by establishing new creative and ownership models for creatives.
If you want to join Kyle and shelby and sandy to create a new paradigm for storytelling, create within new worlds, or just geek out with us, you will fit right in with our community of producers, illustrators, writers, engineers, musicians, storytellers, etc.
Together, we can build a platform where communities can come together to create, contribute to, and ultimately become co-owners of the next generation of story franchises. We are testing the bounds of what can be made possible through new technologies and collaboration models, so please come join our adventure!