“Nobody knows anything…” William Goldman’s famous quote about Hollywood, may very well apply to the publishing industry as well; especially during this time of digital expansion and the resulting democratization of creative expression. The tools of production and marketing are available to everyone now, not just studios and publishing houses. What the long term net effect will be is anyone’s guess. But some are guessing better than others, which is what makes the story behind The Haunting of Sunshine Girl so interesting.
Nick Hagen, Mercedes Rose and Paige McKenzie, the trio behind Haunted Sunshine, took a unique approach to story concept. They did an internet search for the most searched terms (‘ghosts’), researched their target demographic (tweens and young adults) and created their YouTube series around it. Since 2010 they’ve been cranking out short videos starring Paige and Mercedes (and a variety of ghosts!) that average 5 million views per month.
That’s right. Five million. They didn’t wait for a big budget to get started, or Hollywood representation to validate their idea; they just started, kept after it, interacted with their fan base through social media and kept building.
Just a matter of time before Hollywood takes notice, right? Well, not exactly. As is true of most success stories, a little bit of luck was involved. Paige was accidentally discovered by a Literary Agent looking for a different Paige in Seventeen magazine’s 2013 Pretty Amazing article (both girls were featured). What do you think they talked about?
I wasn’t there, but I imagine it went something like: ‘What do you mean there’s no book series?‘
Well, now there is. With some help from her young adult co-writer, Alyssa Sheinwel, Paige has added author to her list of achievements when Weinstein Books publishes The Haunting of Sunshine Girl on Tuesday, March 24th and kicks off her book tour at Annie Bloom’s Books in Portland, Oregon. There’s a lot of buzz about the book already with endorsements from Wes Craven and R.L.Stine, and a devoted fan base of ‘Sunshiners’ eager to engage with a story they already love in a new platform. A television series is also in the works (the Weinstein’s optioned the film rights as well) with Paige set to star and Nick and Mercedes attached to produce.
If you follow Mercedes, Paige or Nick on social media, you’ll notice one of their favorite hashtags is #supportindiefilms. They are quite sincere about that, and having been involved in the Portland film community for some time, it doesn’t just reference their own work. Their company, Coattail Productions, has reached out to local writers and filmmakers to partner with and share their techniques for success in a changing industry, and Paige took time to experiment with us when she starred in last year’s FiLMLaB, Unwelcome Guests, by Portland writer Jon Dragt.
We are always happy to cheer for the home team, but especially so when they actively promote and assist other creatives in achieving their goals.
Congratulations Paige, Nick and Mercedes on your success and the book release of The Haunting of Sunshine Girl!