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Hollywood Studio Funds Study to Uncover More About Sound of Freedom, Journalists Attack Crowdfunding as "Shady"

Inside Angel Studios, Credit, Angel Studios

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In the boondoggle wake of the “Barbenheimer” aftermath, somehow their $1.4B winnings didn’t raise the eyebrows of so many journalists in the mainstream media, so we ask, “What did so many of these journalists write about instead of Barbie’s profits?

A: Sound of Freedom

They appear shocked that such a small film could legitimately garner so much attention from the movie watching public. Do these people know how the theatrical film business works? Likely, no.

Hollywood has spent the last two decades (and more) going in two directions; built-in blockbuster audiences (movie franchises), and the streaming subscription model (Netflix & Amazon Prime “content”), while generally ignoring the niche theatrical. In theatrical, they have grown used to their captive audiences, locked into their built-in IP, which virtually guarantees them easy profits. So much so that they don’t know what a grassroots movie-watching phenomenon even looks like.

Niche film marketing takes knowledge, skill, and cache. This happened with The Passion of the Christ. This happened with Blair Witch and even with Star Wars (people forget how niche sci-fi was at the time, as the genre rarely had any box office success before then). So, while it's true that this niche genre success happens rarely, it does happen. But, when it does happen... boy does it happen! And there’s a bevy of research that Hollywood can refer to to understand this moment in time as well. But instead, these key journalists seek political answers to it, because instead of entertainment journalists, they are really political activists.

So, instead of being rational, many of these so-called “entertainment journalists” continue to push the idea that “racists” and “white supremacists” are trying to destroy our country through a “culture war.” In this case, they believe that a “Q-Anon conspiracy” exists, which threatens to upend the world as they know it, possibly even threatening their (& Hollywood’s) future of easy money entirely. But more importantly, they wouldn’t be able to push their political theories of systemic racism and identitarianism on Americans, if the “other side” gains cache in the film industry. They might actually have to “work” for their money instead of just expecting you, the viewer, to swallow whatever they’re selling without questioning it. This “turning over the moneychanger’s tables” is like upending a fraudulent marketplace, that relies upon ignorance of their customers, allowing them to raise a shield of “authority” & “respectability” in order to prevent people from looking behind the curtain. Don’t see how the sausage gets made. Don’t understand that the Wizard of Oz is just an old man, lost in a land in which he doesn’t belong. No, just swallow the lie, so they can stay in power.

How do we know this? They tell us. Read their article here.

But it’s not as simple as one conspiracy, or one shady right-wing cabal of fraud and evil. No, what The Hollywood Reporter admits is that they used a study that a major Hollywood studio commissioned (that major studio’s identity is kept private) to discover what the audience believes about the film on social media. They also tried to gather information on how Angel uses crowdfunding, to point out “shady” behavior. Seemingly, because if you give a crowdfunding offering there are rules on what that company can do with these funds, something that Hollywood studios AREN’T affected by (a level of transparency), which is how the Hollywood studios continue to operate in darkness. This journalist would experience no luck whatsoever in discovering how Warner Bros or any major Hollywood studio would be using your billions of dollars of ticket purchases for the plastic Barbie blockbuster. This doesn’t matter to them, of course, so that’s conveniently “not worth” investigating.

But what is worth investigating? How the single crowdfunder in a thousand that signed a pledge from Angel Funding to contribute to the release of this film, Sound of Freedom, also committed a crime. Could that one criminal have been aware that he was possibly funding the end of human trafficking? We don’t know, but he worked to contribute to it anyway. And of course he should be investigated, just as we hope all criminals are. But just because you contribute to raising awareness of human trafficking, it doesn’t make you a criminal, and it also doesn’t make you above reproach. We also hope to give more to these kinds of films, to these organizations like O.U.R., and to the continued raising of awareness, which this film, Sound of Freedom, is committed to. And we hope we can all contribute something, whether people in Hollywood are happy about it, or not.

Coach’s Archives covers the story here. **Update: Coach's Archives has gone dark since early October. We hope they will bring back this report, but we haven't contacted them, so we have been given no special knowledge on what happened to them, or if they will return. BTW they covered alot of attacks being made against conservative and Christian media, andn can be found on X at @Jediasmr.

Angel Funding, a separate business entity from Angel Studios, runs the crowdfunding offering that brought Sound of Freedom to theaters, and they are required to follow many rules in order to raise these funds. In doing so they have broken no laws or Federal Trade Commission rules, as a contributor’s personal life doesn’t need to be endorsed by Angel, nor should the contributor need be investigated criminally by Angel in order for them to contribute. Because that contributor actually has no involvement in the day to day operations in the use of those funds. And these investment funds are given in confidence and in good faith. Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, GoFundMe, and numerous other crowdfunding businesses, also do nothing wrong when they operate in good faith this way, as regulated by the FTC.

This has been the case for some time now, but many older boomer-investors remain skeptical of our future with crowdfunding, claiming that they are protecting investors and the public from abuse, by requiring a high bar to become an investor, which is one way that investors were able to gate-keep and retain their old positions of power & prestige in their respective marketplaces, in the past. In Hollywood this is no different.

Angel Crowdfunding Investor Policy is here.

This means that while Hollywood may not be used to having much financial transparency, they may be held liable for criminal behavior, and this may effect the production entirely. It’s like a trade off. You lose one thing, but gain another. This means, if an executive producer, or investor, has been offered access to the set, or has been offered a controlling stake of ownership of a film, they can be held liable for criminal actions that take place on that set, depending upon their involvement. And likewise, a film itself can be investigated for the criminal actions of that producer/investor.

This has happened in many cases throughout Hollywood history, the most recent of which is producer Alec Baldwin who has an ownership-stake on the western film, Rust. This means that the other producers had to go through legal action, or deliberation, to separate themselves from Alec Baldwin, in order to protect their stake in the Rust film. Why? Because they could have been held liable, not for what they did, but for what Alec did, and what other crew members did, on set, when the Cinematographer was shot and killed on that same set. This is not some imaginary connection between being a producer and being held liable for what happens on set. It is what Hollywood is built upon, producers taking the lion-share of responsibility and therefore the lion-share of the profits on the their films.

Variety reports on Rust here. Notice that they make great pains to try to defend Baldwin, but in the end, you cannot really deny that producers are liable for what happens on set, though they may try to obscure just "how much" a Hollywood producer is liable.

How much were the producers on The Crow held liable when Brandon Lee died? The amount wasn't disclosed on how much the wronged party was gifted, but my guess is it was for a large sum. We're talking about son of Bruce Lee, Brandon Lee, here, who was being groomed to be a major star in Hollywood at the time. He would have likely made millions in his lifetime, not including any IP rights.

As stated in the Orlando Sentinel, his surviving parent received an undisclosed settlement amount.

Linda Lee Cadwell – mother of actor Brandon Lee, who was fatally shot while making a martial arts movie in North Carolina – has settled her negligence lawsuit against the filmmakers. Te…

Would Halyna Hutchens have made as much money? This isn't the point. The point is who is responsible for wrongdoing on set. The actor may not have been but the producers were.

But, this is generally not the case in crowdfunding situations, because there is nowhere close to a controlling stake of the crowdfunded film given, nor does the average funder necessarily gain any special ownership of that product, like a producer has, nor "special access" to the set, like a producer has. But (generally) a crowdfunding stake-holder may be entitled to profits after some realization. When that realization occurs and what kind of perks a crowdfunding contributor is entitled to, is going to vary enormously, and this all must be read in the small print, if you are a beneficiary on a crowdfunded project. They are regulated by the government, so one of these requirements is that their terms HAVE TO be stated clearly to the public, before a potential investor could sign anything binding.

Apparently, many in Hollywood still do not understand crowdfunding, but Angel Studios seems to have seen the value in making films for the public using this method, just as many indie producers, and artists of any kind, have begun doing since the beginning of Kickstarter and other platforms. They work to make the films that they know people want to see, because people tell them directly (*see the Angel Guild). And the crowdfunding model makes that eminently more clear the more you study it.

So, it appears these journalists have it backwards about Angel, and crowdfunding. They may be used to Hollywood, which can be held liable for a producer engaging in criminality, but not used to how crowdfunding gathers contributions from the four winds, and therefore has less vetting to do with each investor. Hollywood and their producers & investors may be held accountable for Alec Baldwin and the liability he represents to the Producer’s Guild, but Angel can’t be held liable for each action their thousands of investors may take before or after they sign on that line to contribute a few hundred dollars. Because the greater the involvement, the greater the need to hold someone liable.

So, Hollywood has a lot to compete with and they may continue to commission many studies, to learn more. In this case, they appear to be utilizing the media-arm of their operation to dig up dirt on their competitors, to gain a bigger profit advantage over Angel or other indie crowdfunders. But while they do this, their films like Barbie or Oppenheimer still gain 10 TIMES the money of Sound of Freedom. And the thing about that is that in Hollywood they can do “whatever they want” with this money (behind closed doors) and nobody in the media will hold up a magnifier to it. Because they ARE the media. Holding all the keys and locks cannot continue indefinitely however, and eventually their advantage will be squandered and will leak out of their grasp, as people catch on to these tricks.

The article, itself, admits that even in California, many go to see the film, Sound of Freedom. They stay through the credits, take the QR code to give to the film, and do their part. It’s something we can all learn from. No matter how much people will attack the good intentions of contributors, who may seek to at least do “some” good. Even if that person is a criminal, should they not try to do good anyway? I’d say yes, they should. Even if it’s just one step towards redeeming our past mistakes. It is one step towards the light, and that is something each one of us can do.

If you’d like to contribute to bringing the film to international markets such as those in Latin America where many of these cases that occurred in the film happened, please contribute here.

Additionally, here is today’s update from Angel about Sound of Freedom and their other projects. Enjoy!

**Updated on Nov. 15th, 2023 with information about the Coach's Archives video, the films "Rust" and "The Crow," including the Hollywood producers' liabilities involved in filmmaking, and realizing profits.

Did you enjoy this article? Did you learn anything new about how Hollywood operates? How about crowdfunding? Is it shady? Let us know on our social media, or comment down below (with subscription).