The Disaster Artist.
A Most Violent Year.
It Comes at Night.
The Florida Project.
Almost every movie that has meant something to me over the past five-plus years has been made by A24, an independent film company started in 2012 in New York. When I see their logo (an awesome one, by the way), I anticipate I’ll be taken on a journey of emotional discovery, experiencing a life or points of view that provoke deep thought and consideration.
Early on, while admiring their logo and loving their films, I didn’t know much about A24 and how they became such prolific enablers of great creative work. But in writing this book, I began researching the company, watching it more closely, and marveled repeatedly at the way A24 has proved exceptional at strategic sharing. Not only do does this studio foster superlative films, it demonstrates a profound understanding of how digital media, storytelling, collab- oration, direct influence, and trust-building can propel a company from zero to sixty in the Age of Ideas.
Like Supreme, David Chang, or Ian Schrager, A24 makes a product that intrigues me, that inspires excitement, aspiration, and irrational loyalty. What do I mean by irrational loyalty? I mean the willingness to pay more for a branded product or service with minimal added practical benefit. I listen to the A24 podcast and I’m signed up to the A24 email list. I follow their social media feeds. This isn’t the way I usually engage with movie companies. A24 has developed a direct-to-consumer relationship with me and become my trusted film curator. When their latest release comes out, I don’t even need to check reviews because I believe in them and the work they’re doing. They’ve consistently delivered great films, and this has led me to trust them with my entertainment needs.
And now I know their origin story.
In 2012, Daniel Katz, David Fenkel, and John Hodges left their jobs at Guggenheim Partners, Oscilloscope, and Big Beach, respec- tively, to start a new, independent film company aimed at redefining the way indie movies were made and marketed. As Katz explained, “I always had dreams of [starting a company]. And on some level, honestly, I was afraid to go out on my own and try to make it work. And I was with a bunch of friends [driving] into Rome and I kind of had this moment of clarity. And it was on the A24 [motorway]. And in that moment I was like: Now it’s time to go do this.”
Katz and his fellow founders had been great admirers of 1990s independent cinema and felt there was now a void when it came to films with that kind of boldness and artistic quality. They decided to start a New York-based company focused on “the films and filmmakers, not us.” This meant they would give the creatives—the directors and the writers—control of their work. As Harmony Korine, director of Spring Breakers, puts it, “Hollywood is run by accoun- tants at this point. And so anytime you speak with someone who’s not a pure accountant, is not a pencil pusher, it’s exciting. They had heart to them.”
And that heart has made all the difference with filmmakers. While this approach is not new or novel, it’s rare. Entrepreneurs and business leaders who are open-minded and intelligent enough to enable creatives while providing them support and expertise to realize a truly differentiated vision are few and far between, but the ones who do it well are able to leave their mark on culture and exponentially improve their returns.
Viewed through the lens of our Age of Ideas thesis, A24 represents a prime example of the Creator’s Formula in action. The studio enables gifted filmmakers—experienced creatives—to tell distinct, emotionally generous stories from a personal perspective.