Ficto | Immersive short-form entertainment created by Hollywood talent, and built around your mobile


10 minutes with Mike Esola

A new medium called Fast Fiction

Written by Seth Rowden

In a town where money is everything, the Hollywood studios that invest hundreds of millions in movies want to minimize their risk. I’ve been in these meetings. If they sink a load of money into one movie, they understandably want guarantees that it will be a blockbuster. Marvel, Fast and the Furious, Mission Impossible – these franchises have massive cult followings that predictably turn the $150m it takes to make them into at least $600m in returns. It’s easier to bet on a known winner than take a chance on an original idea.

This approach is working out for Hollywood, but not so much for creators and viewers. I’ve thumbed through countless promising scripts of stories that deserve to be told, but don’t make sense from a commercial point of view. When money and jobs are on the line, it’s easier to release another Spiderman sequel. Even when they land a hit, a fraction of that profit goes to those who create. After working for more than a decade in the industry, I had a winning formula for spotting scripts that would sell and make handshakes happen. But, as someone who loves stories, the process left me feeling empty. I had lost the reason I wanted to be an agent to begin with.

So, I made the decision to leave that behind. I had a vision for what I wanted to create but it was still a massive risk.

Fast-forward to now, and we’re only months away from launching Ficto. Through our new format of Fast Fiction, we’ll put original and interactive content in the hands of viewers and let creators guide them through an experience that they can participate in. One that’s based on their decisions and is therefore as unique as their own personality. It’s literally impossible not to give your full attention – unless you drop your phone.

“If we want premium content that is more daring than another Spiderman movie, then I believe this is the way forward.”

Ficto answers every doubt I have about the future of our industry. It democratizes storytelling by sharing revenue 50/50 with creators, allowing them to do what they love while being compensated not only fairly, but substantially. I’ve faced a lot of resistance and even disbelief, especially around Million for Million. I could have chosen another approach but, if we want premium content that is more daring than another Spiderman movie, then I believe this is the way forward – and we’re giving it everything we’ve got.

If early televisions were designed to hold in your hand, content today would look a lot different. Ficto is an entirely new form of entertainment for the 21st century.