Reminder -- All Round 8 investors will get their name (or the name of a loved one) in the credits of Man In The White Van. For details go to startengine.com/legionm.
Last week Legion M wrapped principal photography on our feature film The Man In the White Van. This is a pretty big deal, and a significant milestone for the company. We wrote this update to explain why.
The Man In The White Van is an elevated true-crime thriller currently being produced by Legion M:
Set in 1974 in Florida, this true-crime, Hitchcockian thriller about an ominous white van that begins stalking a young girl leads to a terrifying Halloween nightmare.
You can read more about the movie here. It’s not a horror movie, but a smart, taut thriller. And while it deals with a real-life serial killer, it is not a movie that glorifies violence or predators. We take the responsibility of a film with this subject matter seriously, and have an extremely tight and engaging script, as well as a plan to support victim’s rights that we’ll be talking about in a future post.
The movie has an amazing cast which includes Maddison Wolfe (The Conjuring 2, I Kill Giants), Sean Astin (Rudy, Lord of the Rings, Stranger Things), Ali Larter (Final Destination, Resident Evil, Legally Blonde), Brec Bassinger (Stargirl, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged) and Skai Jackson (Bunk’d, Jessie). It’s co-written and directed by Warren Skeels (Siesta Key) who also happens to be a first round investor in Legion M! We didn’t produce his movie because he’s an investor -- we’re producing it because he’s an incredibly talented director who wrote a first-rate screenplay -- but nothing makes us happier than working with people like Warren who have been with Legion M from day 1.
The film was shot in Shreveport, Louisiana over a 5 week period. Legion M had a number of staff members on set, including Terri Lubaroff (our COO & Head of Content) who served as producer alongside Anne Marie Gillen (Fried Green Tomatoes) from Garrison Film. If you are not familiar with the structure of film crews, the producers (Terri and Anne Marie) are the “big bosses”, responsible for everything from overseeing budgeting and casting to ensuring that production runs smoothly with a cast and crew of almost 100 people.
We could write an entire book about what it was like to produce this particular movie. In addition to all the normal challenges of making a film, we also had to deal with COVID compliance in a region with one of the highest positivity rates in the country (we are happy to report that our shoot was 100% COVID FREE!). We also weathered two named storms (Tropical Storm Nicholas and Hurricane Ida), a gas leak that shut down production, equipment failures, a mosquito bloom, and a cast that included children, horses, and snakes!
Fortunately, we were graced with a cast and crew that was up to the task. They were amazing (including the children and horses -- the snake was a bit of a diva). A typical production “day” is, at minimum, 12 hours of non-stop, on-the-go, fast-paced filmmaking and problem solving. We put “day” in quotes because, as much of the story takes place at night, ¾’s of the shooting days happened either partially or entirely at night (aka 6pm-6am). When we wrapped on October 16, the team was exhausted to say the least, but excited and optimistic about what we had accomplished.
It’s worth noting that in addition to writer/director Warren Skeels, we also had a number of other Legion M investors on set, including Terri Piñon and Michelle Carter (COVID Compliance), Matt Conkling (PA in charge of picture cars), Taylor Gledhill (behind the scenes footage), Eric Lam (transportation and talent escort), Glen Grefe (assistant location manager), and some local Legion M members as background actors in several scenes. In normal times, we would have loved to have opened up the set to tours for our investors, so they could experience what it’s like on the set of a feature film. Due to the strict COVID protocols required by the unions (as well as our own commitment to keeping our cast and crew safe), we had to scrap those plans. Fortunately, we brought our very own Taylor Gledhill who captured a massive amount of “Behind the Scenes” footage (including the photos below) that we’ll be releasing in the coming weeks and months, and should give ALL our investors a taste of what it was like behind the scenes making this movie.
WHAT COMES NEXT
Now that shooting is complete, our editor is working to create a first draft “rough assembly” of the film. Ultimately we expect the final cut to be completed in Q1 or early Q2 of 2022, with a release tentatively scheduled for Q4.
We don’t yet know what the final release plan will be. We’re already in discussions with a number of US distributors that have shown interest in the film, and have partnered with XYZ Films for International sales. We may start by taking the movie to film festivals, or we may go directly to release. At this point, everything is on the table – from selling to a streamer to a full theatrical run. A lot will depend on how well the final cut of the movie is received by audiences. That’s the true test -- after all the blood sweat and tears, what matters most is what audiences think when the lights come up.
Legion M is producing The Man In The White Van, along with Garrison Film (the financier) and writer/director Warren Skeels. This means that we earn revenue from the project in two ways:
1. We get paid “producer fees” for our role in producing the movie.
2. We have a percentage of the “backend”, or any profits the film makes after expenses are deducted.
Like many of our projects, The Man In The White Van is a swing for the fences. Our hope is that the movie becomes a hit, in which case the company will participate in the upside. But even if the movie doesn’t fare well, we’ll earn revenue from the work we did producing it. This is a powerful position to be in, and one that we’ve earned as a result of all our work on projects leading up to this one.
With our earliest projects, Legion M had to buy a seat at the table, by making investments in films. As we grew, we were able to earn a seat at the table, receiving upside in a film simply by attaching ourselves to it. Today, projects like The Man In The White Van allow us to get paid to sit at the table (in the form of producer's fees), while still owning upside in the film.
As we grow, we expect this trend will continue. The larger the Legion gets, the more influential we become, and the better terms we are able to negotiate. Every project we attach to is a swing for the fences. Take enough swings and we should get hits. Get enough hits (or better yet, franchises), and it can fundamentally change Legion M’s position in the industry, until someday, Legion M owns the table! :)
ONWARD AND UPWARD!
-Jeff, Paul, and the Legion M Team
Gang’s all here! The Williams family, loaded up on the process trailer (a rig that tows a picture car, so that the actors can focus on acting, not driving). Left to right— Ali Larter, Madison Wolfe, Gavin Warren, Brec Bassinger, Sean Astin.
Our hero car on its way to the drive-in movie theater. Fun fact: you can’t actually drive to the set where we shot the drive-in theater scene by taking this roadway. If you were to follow the sign, you would end up in a lake!
Director Warren Skeels (left) and Director of Photography Gareth Paul Cox (right) discuss the camera move for the next shot.
2nd AC (2nd Assistant Camera) Matt Koesy calls the roll. The clapboard is used to sync sound and video, and make it easy for the editor to identify each take.
Ali Larter (left), Brec Bassinger (center), and Madison Wolfe (right) pose for a behind-the-scenes photo.
1st AC Gerard Martin changes lenses.
Shooting exteriors with the picture car outside our main “Williams House” location.
Sometimes you need an extra person to really fill out a scene— So we threw an FBI jacket on our 1st AD (1st Assistant Director) Duane Journey and POOF— he’s in the movie.