It’s rare for indie animation producers to talk money with billionaires on tv. Courtesy of Shark Tank, that’s just what we got last week.
The owners of Black Sands Entertainment, an entertainment company focused on telling fresh stories about the Black experience, found themselves haggling with entrepreneur Mark Cuban and comedian Kevin Hart on the reality business show. Having started out in comics, Black Sands is now expanding into animation and looking for capital.
Founders Manuel and Geiszel Godoy, along with partner Teunis de Raat (who executive produced Netflix’s The Willoughbys), initially offered a 5% stake in the company in return for $500,000. Cuban and Hart (who is appearing as a guest Shark) eventually pushed them up to a 30% stake, and closed the deal. Hart came on board through his production company HartBeat Productions.
Hart stressed that the company would be joining his “ecosystem,” saying, “I would not be asking for this particular number if you didn’t have to access my real resources. You said, ‘We’re going to get some creative people to come in: new animation, new stories.’ I have that.”
This is the first time we remember animation producers appearing on the show. The company recently released a teaser for Black Sands, the Anime, a planned animated show based on its comics series Black Sands: The Seven Kingdoms. The series, which Black Sands is producing independently, will be “very much in the vein of Arcane,” de Raat tells Cartoon Brew. A pilot short will be pitched to potential distributors.
Black Sands offers “a strong focus on stories from Black history before slavery and the rich legacies our African ancestors left us,” de Raat continues. “We fight every day to counter the Hollywood agenda-based single story and tired trauma-filled narratives.”
The company has sold over 200,000 units; through online fundraising campaigns, it has drawn in more than $2 million, which, de Raat says, has “primarily been used to develop our BSP Comics distribution app and to sign new creators to our platform.” He adds, “The BSP app is an amazing development engine for us, as we can see in real time which properties have the highest engagement with our audience.”
Based in Middletown, Delaware and Vancouver, Black Sands conceived its animation studio from the start as fully remote. The studio is developing adaptations of the company’s comics properties, which also include Cosmic Girls and Mori’s Family Adventures. They company says it has worked with senior animators from studios including Disney, Sony, Pixar, Bron, Amazon Studios, Nickelodeon, and Rainmaker.