By Allan Grafman*
Creatives want to know that they — and their projects — will be in the hands of astute, savvy, contemporary-minded, experienced development executives with track records. That the studio can surround their project with an outstanding marketing campaign, and fully manage the project throughout its lifecycle. Add caring and nurturing to the mix. Bottom line — it takes great development and production executives to attract great creatives.
Having been active in the media arena for quite some time, we have seen first-hand what is most important in our industry. During my tenures at Tribune, Hallmark, Archie Comics, Archaia/Boom Studios, or now, as CEO of IDW, the keys to success haven’t changed much over the years. Success is driven by company culture, company reputation, personal relationships, and the ability to attract the best possible creative talent. And the way to attract top talent is to do everything possible to make the company an ideal partner for creatives.
At IDW, our mandate — our mission statement — can be summed up in three words: “Partner of Choice.”
We become a creative’s “Partner of Choice” by understanding the characteristics they look for in partnering with studios. How will my works be treated? How will I as the creative be treated? How collaborative is the environment? Yes, the business deal is always important — but if the creative and their project are shuffled around to the point where weeks become months and even years, the business deal can lose its appeal.
How accessible are members of the development team? Is there a bureaucracy? Is there a lot of red tape? While it’s true that developing excellence takes time, that time should encompass creative development and not lengthy periods of waiting until it’s your turn.
It all boils down to one word: respect. Like you, I have heard creators share their own personal horror stories. They sign the deal, then they don’t hear from or can’t reach the senior executive in charge for weeks. Even their role in the development process is diminished to the point where all they get to do is review scripts and offer up their input.
At IDW, we offer an environment conducive to collaboration and creativity. Our company is home to a top-ranked global publisher of comic books and graphic novels, and a vibrant entertainment studio that has amassed a host of high-profile credits based on IDW published works over a short period of time. Locke & Key, October Faction, and V-Wars for Netflix; Dirk Gently for BBC America; Surfside Girls for Apple TV+; and Wynonna Earp for SYFY are among our current series achievements, and projects entering active development based on popular IDW comic books and graphic novels include Bacchus, Lodger, Relic of the Dragon, Satellite Falling, Korgi, and the kids’ animated series Dragon Puncher & Spoony.
These latest project developments follow on the heels of IDW Originals set up earlier this year, including Dark Spaces with Universal Content Productions (UCP), Earthdivers with 20th TV, The Delicacy with Warner Bros. TV, and Brutal Nature with Anima Studios.
To develop and produce IDW originals, we are joined by a roster of top showrunners, directors, writers, and executive producers that reads like a ‘who’s who’ list of the biggest creative talent — Will Davis (Man Vs. Bee, How to Train Your Dragon), Max & Adam Reid (Sneaky Pete), Jude Weng (Finding ‘Ohana, Only Murders in the Building), Patricia Riggen (The 33, Dopesick); Will Pascoe (Orphan Black, Absentia); and Holly Huckins (Sheriff Callie’s Wild West, Higglytown Heroes) are just a few examples.
For creators, IDW is an ideal destination to nurture their stories and hang their hats. For programmers and production companies, IDW represents a vast resource of hundreds of original published works that have proven themselves with audiences worldwide.
I am always excited to see who we welcome aboard next as our “partners of choice.”
*Allan Grafman (pictured above) is CEO, IDW Media Holdings (NYSE:IDW)