Somewhere between selling 6,000 comic books a month as a high school student, and producing the mega-hit The Walking Dead, David Alpert has learned a thing or two about “Taking the Weird and Making it Great.” And he shared those lessons at a tell-all evening of the same title during a recent visit to San Luis Obispo County. The event was the first in a series of Creative Chats at Studios on the Park in Paso Robles.
While best known for The Walking Dead franchise, Alpert also found success producing BBC’s Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, and American Ultra starring Jessie Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart. He’s also a Harvard and NYU Law School alumni. And now he’s scaling all of his experience into something bigger: an international content company called Skybound that keeps creators at the center of their projects through production and extends their ideas through TV, films, video games, and merchandise.
I related to this concept, not only because the idea of creators maintaining control is at the center of what SoCreate does, but also because it is not the norm.
And his concept is paying off. Today, Skybound produces comics, books, games, TV shows, movies, merchandise, and more to keep fans engaged with its stories. “We just finished our fifth cruise. We also just made wine, and we’re bottling bourbon next year,” he said. “We’re finding ways to tell stories in mediums that haven’t been done before. We always ask ourselves, how can we interact with our fans in ways that others don’t?”
I asked David what medium he’s most excited about exploring next. “Podcasts have yet to find their native format,” he said. “But I am interested in pursuing audio, and maybe interactive audio, choose-your-own-adventure style.”
Audio would be another spoke in David’s “Wheel of Awesome,” which is essentially a hub and spoke business model with the creator at the center and Skybound’s various departments as extensions of the creator’s original idea.
So how does David convince creatives that they should partner with him to take their ideas to the next level?
While other execs may be laughing creatives out of their offices, David sees big opportunities.
David recalled a time when he got his hands on the Twilight manuscript. He acquired the rights to attempt to sell it to a few studios.
Someone else eventually sold the manuscript to Paramount, and the rest is history. To date, the original film has grossed nearly $400 million worldwide.
The evening chat ended with a question and answer session with attendees, in which David was happy to share his thoughts on several entertainment-industry hot topics, including Netflix, Amazon, the future of digital media, and his biggest life challenge.
On Netflix and binge-watching:
On the future of digital media:
On the biggest challenge he’s had to overcome:
On the project he’s most proud of: