Daniel Harmon got lucky growing up.
The entrepreneur came from a “freedom-loving family” where even his Uncle sat him down to share key principles behind American capitalism.
When Harmon became a parent himself, he realized “how few people get that kind of a foundation.”
“Not everyone has an uncle who will take them under their wing and write things down for them,” Harmon says. And he wanted to make sure his own children benefited from that kind of education.
It’s why the “Tuttle Twins” book series grabbed his attention.
The series, written by Connor Boyack and illustrated by Elijah Stanfield, breaks down complex economic issues in ways children can grasp.
“It was just the resource I needed to be able to pass down values,” Harmon says of the 11-part series, which has sold more than 2 million copies to date. Now, he’s bringing an animated version of the title to consumers.
The upcoming “Tuttle Twins” series, courtesy of newly launched Angel Studios, already ran a wildly successful crowdfunding campaign to jumpstart the project.
Now, it’s time for round two.
That first wave made “Tuttle Twins” the number one crowdfunded children’s show to date. That campaign produced a “proof of concept” video for the series, including storyboards and temporary voices.
“We’re further along in the development of the series,” Harmon says, adding the production is halfway through season one. The first “Tuttle Twins” episodes will debut this summer, thanks in part to a $2.7 million crowdfunding push to make the show a reality.
So far, so history making, but Harmon’s team learned some critical lessons along the way.
His team leaned on more than just its expansive email list to raise money. They used Google and Facebook ads to connect with potential consumers. Once again, the project offered the biggest selling point.
What current animated program instills a love for the American dream?
Harmon isn’t afraid of going back to the crowdfunding well too often, though. He compares his mission to that of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, still going strong after “Iron Man” first reached theaters in 2008.
“As long as they tell a great story and connect with their audience in some sort of fresh way, people will continue to come back,” he says of the MCU, noting Angel Studios offers a similar approach. “A long as the content is good, and the cause is something they believe in…”
The cause is producing content that embraces American capitalism at a time when even iconic properties like “Star Trek” are espousing failed systems like socialism.
Harmon’s team did some tweaking to the “Tuttle Twins” formula, though.
“The books are very education forward … 80-90 percent education,” he notes. The animated series flips that ratio, with the entertainment comprising the bulk of the stories.
That’s on purpose. Harmon hopes children will choose his show over the other, glossy options on Disney+, YouTube and Netflix. To make that happen, Harmon’s creative team tapped artistic talent with ties to Netflix, Disney, Nickelodeon, Warner Brothers and Apple TV+.
Harmon holds an ace card in his quest, particularly when it comes to parents seeking original content.
We are very much serving an under-served audience,” he says. “Everyone loves freedom, the ideas of freedom, no matter where they are on the political spectrum, but very few understand what that looks like in principles and practice … we’re looking to close that gap.”
Hollywood mostly ignored faith-based audiences until the success of movies like “The Passion of the Christ” and, to a lesser extent, micro-indies like “God’s Not Dead” and “War Room.” Now, traditional film studios dip a toe in the spiritual waters with movies like “Noah,” “Miracles from Heaven” and “Breakthrough.”
Harmon hopes the industry similarly embraces capitalism once the “Tuttle Twins” proves it’s reaching an untapped crowd.
Harmon’s Angel Studios is paving the way for that kind of embrace, he says, noting his company’s breakout success “The Chosen” is now streaming on Peacock, the new streaming platform owned by NBCUniversal.
He’s not afraid of potential competition for other freedom-centric kids shows. He says, bring it on, assuming they know how to move forward.
“We’re fulfilling a need in the market. There’s success to be had there, but I don’t know if [Hollywood] knows how to go about pursuing that,” he notes.