Who We Are – The fine print

“If an opportunity doesn’t knock, we build the door ourselves.”

In the first of a week-long series of articles for Who We Are., an online takeover exploring the artistry behind black British film, Leon Mayne, creator of global hit web and TV series Brothers with No Game, explains the potential with online video to dodge the gatekeepers and reach massive audiences.

Leon Mayne

Leon Mayne

Leon Mayne

Hi,

My name is Leon Mayne, I’m an award-winning screenwriter and producer.

I co-run a production company, BWNG Ltd, dedicated to showcasing the culturally diverse range of talent and narratives in modern day Britain. We currently have series and film broadcast on TV and SVOD platforms in over 60 countries worldwide as well as multimillion views of short form content on our personal Youtube Channel.

Over the last few years my client list has included Netflix, BBC, BFI, Canal Plus, TRACE, Channel 4 and London Live, and I’m currently working on both a personal and production company development slate across Digital and TV.

I’ve attached a deck to give you a bit of visual insight. Would love to speak about ways we can work together.

Best,

Leon

As I look over my last email tailored for a specific client, three things are abundantly clear to me:

  • Despite all of the above, I still find it incredibly difficult to lock down certain opportunities due to elitist views of digital beginnings
  • How much I’ve managed to achieve despite having constant imposter syndrome
  • The importance of having an online space to build my career when I wouldn’t have been afforded the opportunity on any other medium

I didn’t study film or television academically, but had a penchant for creative writing and storytelling. Whether it be via poetry, articles, short stories or scripts, I found my solace, therapy, passion and, later on, purpose and responsibility creating content that educates and entertains a global audience. This wouldn’t have been realised if it wasn’t for my journey online.

In 2010 I co-launched ‘Brothers with No Game’, a somewhat satirical blog on relationships, dating and millennial folklore from the ‘beta’ male perspective. It was a fun, self-made platform to express opinion, theories and anecdotes, but ultimately a major pillar in creating content on my own accord while attracting an impressionable global audience. User-generated media has its cons, but its unique selling power for me was tapping into free thought and speech that could nurture something powerful. No middle man.

With the blog I ran at my own pace – relentless! Writing and editing posts for every other daily release was fun for us, and although online can be a demanding space powered by instant gratification, I think it’s easily combatted/complemented by creatives like myself who live to tell stories and adapt to consumer patterns, being consumers ourselves. We’ll address these patterns in literally a second.

Fast forward a year from our blog launch and we already started planning to make our content visual. We recognised a changing pattern in consumption: people were veering more and more towards video content, and I had an additional target – web series. This medium was an opportunity to write and produce projects, something I hadn’t studied traditionally, and therefore would find difficult to find a space in the industry — but nonetheless something I knew I had the talent and persistence for.

I think that’s why creatives love working online. If an opportunity doesn’t knock, we build the door ourselves. There’s no ‘gatekeeper’ to stop that form of expression, there’s nobody to tell you you can’t be multi-faceted, and you get that first-hand education on producing content. And boy did I get an education.

Brothers with No Game (2012)

Brothers with No Game (2012)

When we launched Brothers with No Game the webseries in 2012, we were among what I would call the golden generation of black creatives making comedy and drama online – from Issa Rae’s Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl to The Wall of Comedy’s Mandem on the Wall to Black & Sexy TV’s shows The Number, The Couple and RoomieLoverFriends. It was an incredible time to be a ‘filmmaker’, and the common theme between why we wanted to do this was the desire to fulfil the representation of what we weren’t getting to see on our screens, and the direct communication with our audience.

Being online means being global, and as a production group our audience for the webseries and following productions was invaluable in validating our experience as creatives and as a business. They not only helped me develop a purpose from understanding how important it was to showcase race, skin, three-dimensionality and tone on screen, but I knew who was in demand for our work and where our work was in demand. Instant feedback.

Viewership and comments on our online projects were coming from Europe, Africa, North and South America, Australia and the Caribbean – and fast! We were building a community in front of our very eyes. It was data that we wouldn’t be able to get as promptly if we worked with a TV or film studio. We used this information as leverage to distribute our content to various platforms worldwide. The info gave us insight into what countries to target and what platforms would facilitate it. And just like that, we were now also a distribution group.

Often the bigger distributors would either not know of mid international platforms because they didn’t see these territories as targets, or they would dismiss the value of licensing these projects because they weren’t as big as Netflix, Amazon or Hulu. TV mentality ay?

Their lack of foresight was not our problem though, as were now off our own back, feeding part of a building economy for digital, TV and film, which, while not without its casualties, has given black creatives opportunities to reach new audiences and sustain business.

Now? The autonomy from creating online means I can go into any room anywhere, with both imposter syndrome and a chip on my shoulder, knowing that I can create content and express thoughts that move and shift with or without ‘them’. Ironically, everything has come full circle due to such a high demand by even the most traditional of viewers to look for content online.

We told you so. Are you ready to work?

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  • Who We Are

    Who We Are

    Who We Are. is a week-long series of online events and film programmes designed to celebrate and spark debate around black British film.

Read more

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