The data show this. The people show this.
Yet, the incentive structure that exists in Hollywood offsets all of the risk onto the creators. Original, idiosyncratic content is created by people with the ability and means to travel to LA and work and pitch their ideas until success happens. It is easy for pedigreed, rich, white men to move to LA to try their hand at success. They have money. They have time. They have a comfortable fallback position. As a result, the successful stories told in Hollywood are from the point of view that is not unique to Hollywood. Furthermore, anytime there is an attempt to tell stories of the marginalized, these stories ring incredibly false.
Many creative people of color don't have the money to move to LA. They don't have the time to burn. They don't have a fallback position to revert to if things don't work out.
There is no incentive structure for many people of color to create fantastic stories featuring marginalized characters.
Worse - there is no incentive structure for these people to work together. There is no infrastructure set up to provide the resources and processes to create fantastic stories.
This is a huge opportunity.
We are developing stories where the philosophical theme is cynicism vs a childlike sense of wonder; stories where the protagonists are marginalized by society: PoC, women, creatives, nails that stick up, outcasts, iconoclasts; living in fantastic worlds, hidden in plain sight. These stories will be bold and not pull any punches.
They won’t talk down to anyone.
Everyone knows how to make a big movie: you just throw a lot of money at it. But to make a great movie, you have to put a lot of love into it. We're building teams of creative, curious, emotionally intelligent people with great taste. The story teams are lead by directors that create the initial kernel of a potentially great story. No story starts out great. The story is written and storyboarded with the idea that the story will change and become better with every iteration. Storyboarding allows us to visually direct the movie, and experience it without the huge cost of going into production. This allows us to iterate many times at a low cost for a longer amount of time to develop great stories.
This is very much modeled after the story development process that Pixar uses. The main difference is that we are developing stories for live action production. Pixar jokes that for every great Pixar movie you see, there are 5 bad versions of the movie you don't see.
So contrary to other studios, our story development process is longer, team-based, iterative, and test driven. This allows us to have multiple story teams developing stories concurrently.
Once everyone on the story team is happy with a story, there is a script, a full set of storyboard sequences animated into an animatic, and a team that really cares about the story. The story team is involved in the production of the movie until the end.
The team that produces the movie is intentionally tight knit, and small. Everyone working on the movie is on the same team. They know and care about the story. They believe in the vision. This allows us to keep production costs low, and have a longer production time.
Prior to shooting the movie, production is easily broken down and budgeted using the animatics. We look at every shot to see what digital art needs to be created for digital set extensions and general compositing.
First, we shoot the entire movie quickly on light cameras without set dressing or lighting setups. We match the shots to the storyboards. With the story team active in the production, we are able to see if everything is working. If not, we are able to make technical or story changes on the fly. We are also able to take this opportunity to test visual effects setups that may be challenging in production.
We utilize very cheap forms of visual effects such as digital lighting with projection mapping and digital matte painting / set extensions, while trying to minimize the use of expensive rotoscoping and chroma-screen where prudent. The goal is to make seamless believable worlds that blend into the photography. Visual effects will never be the focus of the story.
The focus of the story is the story of the characters.
We spend a small amount of resources investigating ideas that we believe will have an immediate impact on creative story development.
As we develop story and go into production, we are constantly revising our processes. In some cases, we find ourselves designing tools to help us increase the quality of our work or reduce some of the friction in creativity. We have a team of engineers that build creative tools that are designed by the teams that use them.
The state of current technology is such that we can make tools quickly and easily and put them in the hands of people that need them within days. Now has never been a better time to build creative tools.
For example, we needed a simple storyboarding tool to allow our story team to draw stories as fast as they could think. We focused on eliminating any points of friction in drawing and organizing new boards.
We released the tool Storyboarder publicly, and there is now 150,000 people using it. Not only did our studio need Storyboarder, but the rest of the world did as well.
Other tools we've needed include: a collaborative outlining tool for high level story breaking, a script visualizer, a tool for designing character values, a shot extraction tool for studying existing scenes, script tools, and a suite of preproduction helping tools.
The need for innovative tools and changes to existing tools is dynamic as we work on different projects.
Wonder Unit is committed to seeing artists and technologists grow together. We want to do everything we can to foster a better place to make movies, and to us, that means creating a fun, inclusive, thoughtful, productive, creative workshop where no idea is too big, and no voice is too small.
Are you imaginative and curious? Are you a nail that sticks up? An outcast? An iconoclast?
We are producing live action movies, so we have no need for animators, sorry. Dreamworks is probably hiring. Additionally, if you are a "story artist", please make certain you have an actual ability to tell story.
Please include at least one piece of your work. Tell us why we can't live without you.
Previously, Charles started a companies including, I'm in like with you, OMGPOP, and Picturelife. Charles has produced 37 games, one of which was called Draw Something that for a period of time, everyone in the world was playing.
Previously, CRO Nanotronics (Inc. 5000). Founding team/advisory board ArtAdvisor (Acquired by Artsy), Director of Special Projects , eBay, launched fine art / live auction program, Founding Chair, Pioneer Works Advisory Board, Co-Chair, CreativeTime Ambassadors