By Mario Ricciardi
Paul Scanlan has a vision. Not for a movie, not for a TV series. Paul Scanlan’s vision is for the future of the entertainment industry itself. If this is coming across as heavy-handed, it’s because it is. Scanlan, along with co-founder Jeff Annison, started the entertainment company Legion M, and it could very well be a total game changer.
Said best by Scanlan himself, who was generous enough to set time aside for a phone interview, described Legion M as, “The world’s first fan-owned entertainment company. Individually we’re fans, but when banned together, Legion M becomes the most powerful fan/creator base.”
With that mission in mind, Scanlan looks to forgo replicating mega-franchises like Star Wars or the Marvel Universe for Legion’s own original franchises.
Legion M is the first entertainment studio that allows fans to personally invest in the creation of new media. Since its inception in March of 2016, Legion M has grown to become the second company to earn over $1,000,000 under crowdfunding regulations. Scanlan discussed that the company currently has over 10,000 investors and with the third round of regulation CF investing closed, growth is still accelerating.
Scanlan described the process as a snowball at the top of the hill. He says the company still has a long way to go, but he couldn’t be happier with the traction they are picking up. Legion M’s ultimate goal? One million investors. An objective illustrated by their logo, an M with a bar over it — a fun fact for any of you roman numeral fans out there.
The perks of investing include not only exclusive access to the films, but input in the creative decisions as well. Scanlan is clear in his resolution to host a place where the most financially invested hold as much weight as the least. “Legion M does not discriminate, hold any preference. It’s a community of equilibrium,” he said.
Legion M’s financed projects include the Anne Hathaway/Jason Sudeikis sci-fi film “Colossal,” the David Tennant suspense thriller “The Bad Samaritan,” the Kevin Smith/Stan Lee VR experience “Icons” and the Sundance Midnight hit “Mandy,” starring Nicholas Cage. Although most of these films come from the science fiction/suspense genre, Scanlan says he loves original films and creative ideas and would love to seek more genres.
Thanks to Legion M, I was fortunate enough to catch their latest film, “Mandy,” on opening night ― and what a film it was. Nicolas Cage stars as lumberjack Red Miller, whose girlfriend Mandy is kidnapped by a bohemian religious cult. His mission: hunt down the cult and fight some “crazy evil.” The film is an independent film in the best of ways. Directed by Panos Cosmatos, “Mandy” is a wild visual experience void of creative compromise. Things get weird, things get rough, but not once does the film suggest anything but Cosmatos’ vision.
“Mandy” was an experience but it’s not for everyone. In Scanlan’s own words, “watch the trailer and let that be your black diamond warning before proceeding.” The film is bloody, intense and full of Nicolas Cage on his A-game. I personally enjoyed the film, but can recognize the resistance from those with less experience with midnight films. For those intrigued, you can catch “Mandy” in theaters or on VOD.
Overall, “Mandy” speaks for Legion M’s love for the creative process. It is very clear that Legion M is a company of fans for the fans. As with all investments, only time will tell, but with the growing trend of consumer customization, Scanlan believes Legion M will one day have access to any project thanks to their support.
True visionaries are often realized after the fact, but with the passion Scanlan has, there appears to be little room to miss his mark. As primarily a visual experience, “Mandy” represents Legion M’s passion for the creative vision.
???? (4/5 Penguins)