Curate to create: The rise of Studio A24
How curation made Hollywood’s top studio of the decade and what you can learn from it
Everybody and their grandma is talking about how to grab attention on the internet. All the growth hackers and copywriting wizards make post after post about how to stop users from scrolling and have them focus on your content.
And that’s great. Mastering attention is a must in today’s hectic media stream.
But often, these irresistible hooks, engineered to stop us in our tracks, lead to bland and boring content. It’s the same regurgitated BS you’ve read over and over. And 9 out of 10 times it’s just another “how to hook” post.
So you’re getting hooked on how to hook.
Deep and interesting content is nowhere to be found.
There’s no substance.
And that means there’s an opportunity.
There’s still a massive gap for good insightful content on basically any niche, except for growth.
So instead of focusing on how to get attention. Let’s focus on how to create value. How to find your angle, your breakthrough idea, and your voice.
Let me tell you the story of A24 and how they got to be one of Hollywood’s top studios of the last decade.
The rise of A24
If you don’t know A24, I’m sure you’ve seen some of their work (it’s amazing 🤓).
Their movies have been nominated for over 50 Oscars and won 16 of them. Their most recent blockbuster alone, Everything everywhere all at once, won them 7 golden statues.
They’ve now become a household name in Hollywood and have a reputation for producing some of the most exciting, weird, and refreshing films of the last decade. There’s an undeniable, sort of indescribable vibe that makes their movies unique on their own while remaining unmistakably A24’s.
They have distinct visuals with outstanding photography, and their stories, original and many times irreverent, always champion big and audacious storylines.
But were they this unique and recognizable from the very beginning?
How did they get to develop their signature style?
They started as curators.
At the beginning, they didn’t produce their own films. A24 started out as a distribution company. Meaning, they would buy films, market them and close deals with movie theaters and streaming services who are in charge of exhibition.
Their formula consisted of buying the distribution rights to carefully selected indie films, and then ideating low-cost marketing strategies to make their movies go viral.
They figured out ways to hook people through attention-grabbing content to test if the films they were promoting worked or not. They would then proceed to keep curating films that had similar traits to those that had succeeded.
And slowly but surely, they created the unique style that’s so recognizable today.
Their first mainstream success was Spring Breakers, and it presents many of the elements that new A24 movies have today; bold visual choices, a neon color palette, a clear hook in their plot, and very unforgettable sequences.
They iterated this formula with 42 films before they produced their first original film: Moonlight, where they applied everything they had learned curating their specific style, and created something that was entirely their own and won them 3 Oscars.
They’ve been improving their style over and over making them now one of the few modern studios whose name makes audiences excited and willing to go the cinema. Which is no small feat in a where most films are prequels, sequels, and remakes of previous successes.
So, what can you learn from this?
Curate to create
Original ideas are born connecting the dots from the world around you. A24 developed their style from carefully selecting films, and focusing on the unique elements and traits that made them stand out, later merging them into something completely new.
Your breakthrough idea is entirely dependent on what you feed your brain. And it will evolve and refine as you express the ideas that surface from everything you watch, read, and listen.
It’s The Creative Flywheel. A never-ending cycle of curation, ideation, and creation.
You need to have a curation strategy with a clear goal. And then focus on intentional consumption.
What topics will help build your expertise?
Which experts are already talking about them?
Where do you seek quality sources?
Then study, understand, think, iterate and explore which angles spark your own ideas.
More importantly, think INSIDE your box.
I know the usual saying goes the opposite way. But that’s the common box. The box that everybody knows.
YOUR box is uniquely yours.
Nobody has your exact experiences and outlook in life. Don’t shy away from going deep into how your topic of choice intertwines with your own life experiences, even if they have nothing to do with your profession. Many of the world’s greatest ideas came from connecting the dots on topics that had seemingly nothing in common.
Your unique perspective matters and is more likely to strike a chord than if you echo what everybody else is saying because they are all drawing inspiration from the same “logical” sources.
Then, don’t wait for inspiration to strike. Let it find you doing the work.
Ideation is a mixture of intentional overthinking and subconscious processing. Do not miss on the intentional part. You have to proactively look for ideas. Sit down and start brainstorming. Make use of ideation frameworks or whatever method works for you to get better ideas.
And finally, take action.
Only by means of creating you will hone your craft.
And if you don’t put your ideas out there you’ll never know what works and what doesn’t.
There will be mistakes and failures. A24 didn’t get all of their films right. They still don’t. But they learned from every release to curate their distinct style and offering. And now everybody knows their name.
You have to do the same.
Curate, and be ruthless about it. Only consume quality content that will inform you and inspire you towards the future content you want to create.
Ideate. Sit down and think. Ideas aren’t magic. Look for them proactively.
Create. Make stuff. Throw your fears out of the window and go shape your breakthrough idea through the cumulative learnings of your inescapable mistakes.
I write weekly about my learnings and insights on human creativity and how to hone and enhance our creative practice through technology and AI.
I teach you how to:
Improve your curation 🔍
Boost your ideation 💡
Enhance your creation ✍️
Amplify your reach 📢
so you can grow a brand and thrive in the rising creator economy.