One of the most interesting aspects of my first SDCC was visiting the Legion M Fan Lounge held in the TCL Theater Box. The Lounge, located behind the Sugar Factory candy store, was meant as a place for attendees to sit and relax. There were free charging stations, a cosplay repair station, and even a replica of the Stargate that fans could take photos with. I spoke with Chief Operating Officer and Head of Content Terri Lubaroff about the origins of Legion M as a company, and their current accomplishments and goals for the future.
But Why Tho: How did Legion M get started?
Terri Lubaroff: It’s interesting. If you wanted to invest in a start-up but weren’t a millionaire, it was actually illegal for you to invest in a start-up before 2016. And in 2016, the law changed, and the SEC put into place something called “equity crowdfunding”. And that’s like Kickstarter or Indiegogo where you donate to a campaign and you get perks or products in return-equity crowdfunding is when you invest in a company and you get stock in return. So you can become literally an angel investor or a VC just like an average American citizen, and participate in the growth that a start-up can bring to someone.
The company started the day the Jobs Act went into effect, and our whole goal is to open the gates to Hollywood and to let people invest in an early stage start-up so that they can be part of the entertainment they love. Our logo is an M with a bar over it, which is the Roman numeral for a million. So we’ve kind of built our aspirational goal into our logo, and our goal is to have a million investors someday. It’ll take a long time to get there-we’re at about 16,000 investors so far, but we’ve raised a good amount of money and we’re producing and developing and financing and distributing TV and film. It’s been fantastic so far!
But Why Tho: Have you done any events at previous SDCC’s or other cons?
Lubaroff: Oh my gosh, we launched at a Comic-Con! Our very first Comic-Con was Silicon Valley Comic-Con in 2016, and it was their first year and it was our first time making a public showing and trying to explain to people what the Jobs Act was and what equity crowdfunding was. We were the first company to do it. No one had ever done it before.
It was exciting, but I’d say it’s been a learning process for both us and the public to figure out what does this mean and how they can participate. And I think after three years…we’re almost at three and a half years, it’s gone well. We’re still around, we’re growing, and it’s been fantastic.
But Why Tho: Tell me a little about this Fan Lounge.
Lubaroff: This is gorgeous! So here at San Diego Comic-Con-this is our fourth one, at the first one we were at this little tiki lounge that was probably thirty feet by thirty feet, and we were begging people to come in and get to know us. We had our first shareholder meeting there! And I think we had twenty people show up. And we’ve grown! We’re here at the Sugar Factory and their chocolate lounge, and the TCL Theater-they’ve been an amazing partner for us both here and in Los Angeles.
The owner invited us to come and open a lounge here and bring people in for events. Yesterday we hosted a handprint ceremony for Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes, so they put their imprints in cement. We’re inviting all of our members and investors to come out, hang out, recharge, relax, have some food and hang out with us and get to know us.
But Why Tho: Any future events that potential investors should know about?
Lubaroff: We have events all the time! We just opened our fifth round of fundraising, it’s at wefunder.com/legionm. And if people are interested in participating in Legion M, they can join for free as a free member on legionm.com. But if they’re interested in investing, and the investment is a minimum of 100 dollars so it’s a low entry point. But what’s really exciting for us is that for our investors, we try to find things for them to do that they wouldn’t be able to do just as an average person who’s not in the entertainment industry.
For example, we helped found the Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, and because we were involved in that film, while they were shooting in New Orleans we were able to get two set visits for our investors. So our investors got to come to the set and hang out and watch the filmmaking process and Kevin Smith is so amazing-when they got there he said: “Surprise, you’re gonna be in the movie!” Which was incredible. But we like to do those type of things for our investors. We go to film festivals, we go to Comic-Cons…this is probably one of our biggest events of the year. We’ll also be at New York Comic-Con, we’ll be at FantastiFest this year and BeyondFest, and Los Angeles Comic-Con. There’s a lot going on this year.
But Why Tho: What would you say to potential investors to make them consider investing in Legion M as a company?
Lubaroff: I would ask if they love entertainment, and if they want to see something change in Hollywood, to get involved in a company where they could have an actual say. The one thing that is so exciting about this company is that we’re all about our community and everyone you see here; these are investors and members, these are people who are directly involved in the company. And it’s not just to come and volunteer, we ask them “What movie do you want us to pick up at Sundance?” And we built this platform so they could vote and tell us.
And they said, ” We want you to pick up this documentary about the making of Alien, called Memory,” And we did! They told us that’s what they wanted and that’s what they went and got, so instead of being a studio where we’re telling people what we think they should like, we’re listening to our community and they tell us what they want and we go do that.
If you would like to keep up with Legion M, make sure to follow their Twitter.
Collier “CJ” Jennings is a freelance reporter and film critic living in Seattle. He uses his love of comics and film/TV to craft reviews and essays on genre projects. He is also a host on Into the Spider-Cast.