This Cross-Media Studio Startup Incubates Stories Like Tech Startups

Thanks to tax incentives, access to top talent and an international airport to fly stars in from anywhere in the world, Georgia’s film and TV production industry is flourishing. The industry hit a record $2.7 billion in the fiscal year that ended in July 2017.

But, media executive John Adcox believes that in order for the industry to sustain continued growth, rather than just having Hollywood teams fly in and fly out, we must create content within the state as well. He founded Gramarye Media, a virtual entertainment studio, to disrupt the current model by validating original content through a four-step incubator process similar to validating a tech product.

“If you were starting a studio from the ground up, you would probably start with a $20-50 million development fund,” says Adcox. “We believe that we could make a movie for less than that, so instead we take that model and we created a story incubator based on the old Silicon Valley business accelerator model.”

“Our stance is that stories can be innovative and can be innovative reliably using the same techniques as building a startup through an accelerator,” he explains. “Instead of doing the hunter/gatherer thing that Hollywood studios do when they are looking for content, Gramarye farms it.”

The process starts with unpublished book manuscripts that have the potential to become franchises. Each manuscript undergoes intense scrutiny to match selection criteria. Once the winning manuscript is found, the studio spends a year incubating the story.

“We polish the manuscript with a team of experts like publishers and studios used to do in the old days. At the end of that process, we’ll have a polished manuscript package that’s ready to adapt with a script, storyboard, and budget,” says Adcox.

To gather feedback from the target audience, the polished manuscript is then released in hardbacks and as an interactive eBook. The interactivity allows fans to earn blockchain-powered rewards by sharing their scores with friends, commenting in forums and more.

“Our technology that’s built into the books themselves empowers and incentivizes that community to share with their friends. From that we can track the spread of brand awareness.”

If the story has legs, the studio moves forward with adapting and producing it into film.

“We turn the development phase into a revenue stream, so rather than a $50 million hole, we made our development money back with a 20-30 percent return, which is great, since we also have actionable data,” says Adcox. “We talked to a chief analytics officer at one of the major studios that told us that they spend up to $5 million in data analytics without having anything that’s reliable. Our data is predictive because it’s first-hand observational data about an actual story.”

Gramarye also builds up marketing assets while filming by capturing AR/VR content, assets for video games and mobile games and if applicable, 3-D action figures.

“Our most meaningful relationship is the audience and the only ones that can tell us that is the audience themselves. Community forms around story — think about DragonCon and ComicCon in San Diego. These communities form and they mean something to the people within,” says Adcox.

In April, Gramarye announced that it would launching an initial coin offering (ICO) to raise $175 million to fund its projects. Most will be available to accredited investors with $5 million available to any Georgia resident for $1 per token, with an early-purchase bonus offered.

“We’re working with a film fund here in Georgia called Roadshow Equity Partners,” says Adcox. “We’re looking at this token, not only as a Gramarye token, but a token for Georgia because we can use the proceeds from the sale to invest in a whole ecosystem of cooperating, interlocking partner companies.”

Adcox hopes to leverage the funds to purchase a distribution engine to eventually get the produced movies directly on screens without third-party involvement, and potentially open a production facility. Currently they are in the development stages of their first story and accepting submissions later this summer, with plans for the first interactive eBook release next year.