David Madden has served as Senior Content Director in TV and Film for top Hollywood outlets, from Fox Television Studios to AMC Networks, Fox Broadcasting Co., Paramount to Greg Berlanti Prods., and has been an independent producer to success. But he’s never had so much material to choose from than in the months since joining Wattpad Webtoon Studios as Global Head of Entertainment.
On the last episode of Variety Strictly Business podcast, Madden explains its new mandate to use data analysis, a bit of math and a whole lot of instinct to help develop mainstream TV and film projects from the millions of stories submitted in comic book form or graphic novel across the two giants (both with over 90 million users) digital platforms powered by Wattpad Webtoon.
Madden’s Los Angeles-based content development team is alerted whenever one of the thousands of user-generated stories uploaded daily begins to attract a critical mass of users.
“When it hits a certain threshold, for us it’s 100,000 readings, and then it kind of gets on our radar,” Madden says. “And that goes to a very large group of book scouts in Toronto, which we call the content group. And they go through anything that’s passed that threshold, and then anything that they think could be a movie could possibly be a TV show, they send me and our crews, we have a movie crew, we have a TV team and we have an animation team.”
Currently, Madden says he sorts about 30 things a month. “We’ll select things that we really think we can sell – things that really seem to fit the TV and film market.”
Madden details the upstart company’s fledgling efforts to grow by experimenting with independent films and streaming series and shows in a host of languages.
Surprisingly, Wattpad Webtoon has no particular hold on any of the stories in exchange for using their platforms. It’s a bargain out of thin air every time Madden’s small team contacts an author “to make a purchase deal,” he says. “So far, every time we’ve reached out to a Wattpad author, we’ve closed a deal because they love the platform. They’re thrilled to be there.”
The same goes for Madden, who early in his career worked as a movie executive for Paramount and 20th Century Fox, and he spent years as a freelance producer. But with her new charter at Wattpad Webtoon Studios, “I feel like I’m working for a 21st century company,” Madden says. “This company feels like everything is potential. Everything is upside down.
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