Since its inception in 2015, Crypt TV has been producing original horror-themed content and looking to build a universe of monsters that are all interconnected — a Marvel universe of monsters, if you will. The streaming service was founded by Jack Davis and Eli Roth and backed by Blumhouse Productions as well as Lerer Hippeau, NBC Universal & Advancit Capital — and leading the charge in all of its content is CCO Kate Krantz.
Krantz finds herself in am exec position in a space that is primarily male — something that isn’t uncommon in the industry, but in horror it seems to be very noticeable. Prior to Crypt TV, Krantz cut her teeth at WME and Disney, which she says cultivated her own aesthetic as a curator.
“I’ve been lucky that the women I happened to work for at each institution seeded the value-set I carry in my approach toward brand and content vision,” she told Deadline. “Disney uniquely gave me an insight into the positive power of IP and a model for scaling characters that span generations of fans. Crypt was the blank slate to express the most productive, progressive elements of that process. I was afforded the opportunity to create tangible product on fast timelines with some of the most talented, underrepresented voices.”
She continued, “We started from purely a concept to create a home for the international, scary-loving community. We’ve scaled that vision to the level of mass reach and influence with over 1.5 billion views of our content due to the innovation and collaboration of young, authentic storytellers.”
Crypt TV’s original content includes the Webby award-winning The Birch, The Look-See, Sunny Family Cult, among others. They have managed to build a universe that has gone beyond their streaming platform and been featured on merchandise as well as Knott’s Scary Farm as well as Halloween Horror Nights. In addition, Crypt TV makes original content directly for the top Hollywood studios including Fox, WB and Netflix. In 2018, Crypt TV completed a Series A in the amount of $6.2M. That funding puts Crypt TV over $10M in funding since launching.
What sets Crypt TV apart from other streamers is that it is a direct connection to their audience. “There’s a symbiotic relationship between creative and community in our process, we’re listening when our viewers tell us where to put creative energy,” said Krantz.This is their content, this is their brand, these are ultimately their characters to grow up with.”
She admits that it is not an automated system and that it will “always come down to innovative individuals at the helm taking bold creative risks but we are hyper-cognizant of audience needs.”
“It’s our responsibility to honor the direct connection we’ve cultivated with our fans, a huge part of that audience under 24 years old,” she points out. “We haven’t lost the start-up DNA we had day one, that ability to pivot quickly in an effort to prioritize audience needs is paramount as we evolve with our young viewers and make way for the generations that follow them.”
Krantz shared with Deadline her thoughts on the need to spotlight women in the genre space, how Crypt TV has evolved and what she plans to do as CCO to enhance the brand in a time when streamers are in abundance.
DEADLINE: How has Crypt TV changed since you started and for that matter, its inception?
KRANTZ: We’ve transitioned into deeper level storytelling around our monsters, shifting the process to ideate new IP in-house guided by data. Crypts built a genuine connection with viewers to the point of being platform agnostic – we go where the people are. Great characters can transcend format and genre if they’re emotionally anchored and speak to a uniting issue. We aspire to create scary characters that outlive us, sitting among the ranks of Freddy Krueger, Dracula and Frankenstein. We’ve already grown our characters from original shorts to long-form like our Facebook Watch series The Birch, to international features like our partnership with Abundantia Entertainment in India, to live events and merchandising as we’ve sold thousands of t-shirts on CryptTV.com along with revamped visions of landmark IP with partners like Screen Gems on 13 Ghosts.
DEADLINE: Do you think creating original creatures and monsters is a risk in a time when the Hollywood landscape leans on pre-existing IP?
KRANTZ: The need for strong, new characters is imperative. With regard to the 13-24-year-old consumer Crypt speaks to their generation is bringing social and progressive change to the world unlike anything we’ve ever seen. But their generation is also facing challenges in their lifetime unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Because of our direct connection to our audience we can use scary original IP as a way to speak to young audiences in an authentic manner. The Birch was an original concept and stood out against the Hollywood landscape pulling in over 30 million views across the first season with international fandom. It’s up to the bold to institute a new guard and take risks, we’re grateful to be in a position to collaborate with the next wave of filmmaker greats to create that new IP.
DEADLINE: There is a large absence of inclusivity — specifically women — in the horror and genre space, but with you as CCO, what are you doing to add more marginalized voices to the conversation when it comes to the mix?
KRANTZ: I think there’s an overwhelming amount of female voices in the genre space, difference is their early potential is not as readily recognized nor as supported as men. We haven’t lowered the bar at any point to include women in our process. These voices are out there and they are strong, untapped talent. We’ve worked with phenomenal genre filmmakers over the years from Lena Tsodykovskaya to Gigi Saul Guerrero to Chelsea Stardust and there’s a roster of other women we’re excited to collaborate with in the future like Roxy Shih, Yoko Okumura, Lisa Takeba. You’re correct in that these powerful female voices should be more synonymous with the genre. As we grow more of our characters, work with more partners, we look for opportunities to promote and support these women. Two of the series we’re in production on currently are helmed by women who have cut their teeth on Crypt originals in the company’s infancy. Another piece here is bringing female writers/directors into genre – spotting vision and talent outside of our genre lane and inviting them in. Some of the strongest directors we’ve worked with in the past have come from the music video, commercial, even comedy worlds and jumped into the Crypt space. Marci Wiseman, Co-President of Television at Blumhouse, is a leader I look up to with a similar approach to inclusion. She’s unafraid to reach out to talent coming from backgrounds beyond traditional film/TV and bring them into the community. Ultimately vision is vision, we can cultivate that talent.
DEADLINE: How do you balance that line of tokenism and inclusion?
KRANTZ: There are a multitude of stories that must be told and are not mine to tell. I think it starts with an intention to create space for those who have been told their stories don’t matter or matter less. Our audience helps guide us – they’ll tell us if they’re represented or not, we’ll put energy into finding creatives in their communities to amplify their presence in our IP. Every person bears the responsibility to contribute where they can to right the course from a history of wrong in our industry. We don’t make decisions based on the trend of box-checking, we hire the best person for the job but put in the work to seek out marginalized voices in that process. Casey Modderno and Amy Wang weren’t at the forefront of The Birch because of optics, they were stellar at what they did. They were hands down the best people for the job and it shows in the product. It would be ignorant to claim we are perfect at this, that we are the most inclusive and aware we can be. There is no ‘there’ when it comes to the level of inclusivity. We can always be better, we strive to be better.
DEADLINE: What is your primary goal as the CCO of Crypt TV? And considering its a genre-driven space, how broad do you want to go with this and still keep it specific to your core audience?
KRANTZ: The primary goal from where I sit is to create a ubiquitous brand that influences positive culture shifts and empowers young viewers. This genre is giving a voice to an era, to a generation, to masses of historically marginalized people. We’re in the midst of a genre renaissance where ‘cool’ on its own isn’t enough. The draw comes from the social awareness within the art and its ability to drive meaningful connection. We’re building inside a culturally reflective space with the potential for rippling impact unlike any other period. Young people look at social issues through a different lens and we can personify these issues to make them unifying and conversational. The Birch is a dark aspirational fairytale but at its core serves as a parable for bullying. The show is a framework through which we can transpose the conversation surrounding cyclical violence often behind bullying. We are not relegated to an old-world view of scary at Crypt. We take the responsibility to speak to such young viewers very seriously. We want to honor and validate their challenges as worthy and celebrate their development as contributing persons in the world.
DEADLINE: How do you see the company growing and moving ahead to keep things fresh?
KRANTZ: We’ll be making more of the hits for fans while pushing the boundaries with our new slate of characters. You’ll see more collaborations with partners like Screen Gems to reinvigorate existing iconic IP for younger generations. We’re ever-evolving with our viewers, the excitement day-to-day comes from perpetual opportunity and a lack of stasis. In the near future we’ll be announcing more long form expansions of our IP as we move further into TV while supporting the next wave of genre storytelling icons!