I’ve received a lot of questions over the last few months about what exactly we do, how it works, and what the benefits to you are.
With this letter, I intend to articulate exactly how it all works, including what we’ve so far done well and what we need to improve on.
Secondly, I want to bullet-point our master plan for the future, which I’ll refer to as “Voyage 3.0”.
Finally, I also include an FAQ section at the end so you can get answers to some great questions we’re sometimes asked (and that will be good for you to know).
Our humble beginnings…
Our vision from the get-go has been to enable emerging writers to have a viable path for their film/TV projects outside the traditional agency and studio system.
With Voyage 1.0, we launched our “Get Connected” program, which enabled writers to connect 1-on-1 with film and television producers.
Our goal in providing you direct access to producers was to create a viable path to Hollywood for emerging writers and to bypass the traditional agency model.
Our community upgrade…
Once we had our team in place, it was time to expand. So with Voyage 2.0 we introduced both our “Get Educated” and “Become an Original” programs.
The idea with 2.0 was to (1) facilitate a ‘smarter’, more market-savvy community of creators and (2) partner with select creators and produce their projects.
We are now a little over four years in to building this vertically-integrated, concept-to-screen company that covers development, packaging, financing and production.
As you can probably ascertain, it’s a big undertaking with a lot of moving parts. We are happy to report that so far we’ve done incredibly well in some areas, less well in others, and have a lot of work left to do.
But it IS starting to hum:
What we’ve accomplished so far…
With Voyage 1.0 and 2.0, we’ve successfully proved our thesis— emerging storytellers can break in and get projects made in Hollywood if they have access to professionals and quality information and training:
- 3 projects have been fully produced and distributed with a 4th headed into production right now and a 5th that’s fully financed.
- 3 projects have been partially financed
- Nearly 40 unknown writers/authors have had their material optioned by producers
- 30 writers have received ongoing paying writing assignments
- Over 45 authors have become bestselling authors
Which brings me to Voyage 3.0…
This past year we tested a new concept we’re calling “Accelerators”. You may have heard the term from the tech startup world.
In tech, an accelerator is an opportunity for qualified start-ups to receive mentorship, services and funding. We’re doing something similar for movies/TV shows…
One accelerator we ran last year was a real eye-opener for us. As part of this exploratory test, we asked writers who are also accredited investors to invest in their own film’s production.
We sent 2 emails to about 1000 people (a very small slice of our community) and ended up with $800,000 in production financing, $200K of which is fully closed and in production, and the remainder of which is in active negotiations.
This woke us up to the notion that we could establish a viable development and production fund FROM our own community and FOR our own community.
This concept of “we’re all in this together” was always something envisioned from the inception of Voyage.
We recognized early on that, even with the best mentorship and guidance, most creators still are facing a low probability of getting projects made. This is true across all aspects of the industry, not just for emerging creators. It’s a ‘buyers market’ and always has been.
But we loved the idea that while betting on your own project, you were simultaneously making bets on other people’s projects too.
At the time, setting this up occurred as “impossible” with no affordable method of handling the accounting side of tracking and micropayments etc.
But late in 2016, new legislation was passed and new technology created that for the first time enables our vision to become a reality.
In 2017, we are building the first creator-owned studio.
We want you to be able to own a piece of Voyage (which owns a piece of a lot of other projects).
We think this is a very big deal since some of our creators invest lots to work with us and don’t get the ultimate success of a movie or TV show made.
This upgraded model will create an underlying economic condition where there’s much more alignment.
And this aligning economic vision is just one part of our Master Plan. Here is more about our vision and our 5-year goals:
To foster a thriving community of storytellers and a revolutionary, heart-centered way to create, share, and earn from the transcendent art of film and television storytelling.
Our 5-Year Goals:
- Have a self-sustaining ecosystem of creators with access to $100 million in production and development financing
- Produce 34 movies and 12 TV series that come directly from our community and with our own financing
- Have a thriving community of 1 million creators, that are economically aligned and supportive of one another
- Create 123,000 direct & indirect jobs and $3.2 billion in wages paid
In the coming weeks and months, you’ll hear more about this vision and how you can participate.
I look forward to deepening our relationship with you, our magnificent family of creators!
Let’s do great things!
What is your success rate?
Currently, for every writer that works with us, about 15% go on to having a measureable success like the ones listed above.
We think statistics like these are extraordinary given the headwind that outsiders and emerging writers face in the industry.
That said, some of you have suggested that other companies report numbers much higher. For example, one company reports that 68% of Sundance films were made by their members. Another major listing service reports that 315 movies have been made from their platform.
But here’s the difference:
Other companies report successes whether or not they had anything to do with them. The aforementioned listing service for example has published several success stories that are actually our success stories simply because the writer is also listed on their site.
The successes we report are the direct result of Voyage services and producing efforts. So we’re quite proud of the fact that so many writers have found a successful path in Voyage, where before there was none.
Working with Voyage is expensive. What’s the payback?
Our unique offering of working with real producers and providing real packaging and financing opportunities sets us apart (and producers don’t come cheap), but we understand the limitations of our economic model.
As you may know, an entry-level strategy session with a Voyage producer costs between $397 and $797, depending on the type of session and how much material they have to read.
Sometimes projects are optioned out of these initial sessions, without any further programs or investment on the part of the creator.
But in most cases, the project is not yet ready for market. It is in those cases that we invite the qualified creator to participate in mentorship programs.
About 20% of the creators that are invited to participate in these involved programs end up having their project optioned by producers.
We think that when professional writers routinely pay upwards of an aggregate 25% of their income on their agent and manager, an emerging writer does well when they invest 10% of their income from outside the industry into their work inside the industry.
Voyage creates a way for the emerging writer to invest in themselves and in their project and increase the probability that their projects are marketable.
The underlying economic scenario for Voyage is that we keep the lights on and our producers fed through these program fees. But we only make real money when projects are successful.
When we’re successful with a project, we take producer fees and backend (*out of the buyer’s side of the deal, not yours).
We don’t take fees or % out of your deal at all.
Some have asked us to disclose the nature and terms of these deals. I’m reticent to do so in detail, for the sake of respecting our financing partners’ and client’s confidentiality.
Here’s what I can tell you:
- Option fees are typically low, ranging from nothing to low 4 figures
- Purchase prices have been standard if not favorable and commensurate with the nature of the project and budget etc – ranging from $30K-$250K
- Back end percentages are also standard, ranging from 2-5%
- In many cases, creators are afforded better credits, fees and percentages when they work with Voyage (see below)
- Voyage does NOT take a % out of your deal (we take our end out of the buyer/financier side)
The position that zero dollar options are useless is unfounded – we’ve successfully produced several projects that originated from zero dollar options.
An option results in a producer investing a year or more of their time and is a wonderful coup for an emerging writer.
What DOES set our deals apart are that when clients have invested in deliverables that a producer would normally be responsible for in the ‘traditional model’, it’s typical for them to receive creative/business approval rights, producer credits, and additional fees/backend.
What kinds of projects is Voyage producing?
We’ve set up deals ranging from reality TV shows, scripted TV shows, documentaries, MOWs, indie features, studio movies etc.
All of our producers have individual track records a mile long, producing movies, scripted shows, docs, etc. The projects that have been produced so far out of the Voyage platform include 1 feature, 2 docs and 1 reality show.
We also have two other movies that are financed and out to cast etc. Both are indie dramas. One is being packaged by CAA. And we have two thrillers that have received offers of full funding and are in current negotiations.
These projects and deals are facilitated by either our producers (listed on our site) and/or through some of the overall deals that Voyage has in place with producing /financing partners.
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