Sound of Freedom: Underdog Story behind Angel Studio’s Co-founders 


Image Courtesy of Breitbart

By Ella Sofia Baez

A brother-led film studio, Angel Studios, gained recognition for their recent film, Sound of Freedom, bringing attention to their Christian roots. Despite a rise in box office tickets compared to previous releases, the film still received a mix of positive and negative reactions from viewers. One could attribute this failed success rate to audiences due to their unnatural beginnings and the spiritually firm nature behind their start-up. 

 Before four of the nine Harmon brothers began building the aforementioned film studio, their aspirations began in Idaho. The brothers were born to a modest Mormon family who followed the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. As they grew up, each sibling was on the path to building and leading companies outside their mountain state. In Neal Harmon’s case, he attended Brigham Young University, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in American studies and a master’s degree in Instructional Psychology and Technology. Harmon transitioned from solely serving his church to serving three different businesses needing his tech savvy and media psychology. 

 His brother, Jefferey Harmon, founded the company Harmon Brothers LLC, which taught him how to market and advertise campaigns for successful products. Around this time, Neal Harmon became impassioned with the idea of a video forum that contains family-friendly content and a customizable filtering system. In 2013, the four Harmon brothers, including managing director Benton Crane, ventured their time to up-start a small streaming service focused on religious and conservative values, which shortly became a website known as VidAngel

 Their modest enterprise consisted of 50 employees who worked hard to provide home viewers with PG content and support their integrity. However, the co-founders needed help meeting the production demands of their Christian viewers, especially dealing with censorship demands. The brothers’ desire for personalized storytelling that met their Christian beliefs and filmmaking skills bore Angel Studios

 With their shared dream, VidAngel background, and community support, the Harmon brothers took their chances in the entertainment industry. The brothers built Angel Studios from their former company with a business model known as equity crowdfunding. This model raises capital online from investors to fund their business, including profile their financial and accounting business strategies. Since the brothers also oversaw their studio accounting, the company relied on a revenue model called pay it forward, which allowed them to pay for their content if they supported Angel Studios. Once the business strategies, investments, and sponsorships were underway, the filming company saw successful funding behind their productions after their launch in March 2021. 

 The year began with $5.6 million dollars earned from children’s shows to the nationally successful show The Chosen. During 2022, Harmon Brothers saw a climb in 50,000 investors, $47 million raises, and higher value in their original television titles. These mounted accomplishments spurred the initiative to produce original films on their platform. The Harmon brothers started filming Christian dramas such as Testament: The Parables Retold and His Only Son to imprint a pious image of their company’s attempts at filmmaking. While the moral sentiment and historical accuracy impressed audiences, Angel Studios made themselves a small competition. As you can imagine, many biblical dramas backed by senior film industries had already made a cultural imprint. Thus, Sound of Freedom was an attempt by the  Harmon Brothers to take a bold step ahead of their competitors.

 The Harmon brothers worked with Santa Fe films, whose partnership jumped from deals with 20th-century Fox to Walt Disney Company. Despite a great acquisition from a grand company, Disney wanted to remove the film from its first release date. Thus, the film producer, Eduardo Verastegui, reacquired the publication rights and helped release the movie only after three years. 

 After more rejections from other filming and streaming industries, Sound of Freedom had another chance to succeed once COVID-19 delays ended. Crowdfunding investors and loyal filmmakers relaunched the shelved project for its long-overdue premiere on July 14, 2023. Audiences saw the thrilling yet moving drama, which became one of the hit featured films and earned Angel Studios a place in the entertainment world.

 The awaited child of four Harmon brothers and Crane gained millions of dollars in pre-ticket sales and national recognition. While rumors and QAnon vindicators thwarted the film’s reputation, Sound of Freedom rose higher than its competitors. Its summer film ranking and total earnings won 2023’s 9th place on the highest-grossing American films list. For the Harmon brothers, this nationwide release boomerangs back to their founding purpose: to represent perseverance and hope against the industrial odds and divisive nay-sayers, who nevertheless brought fame to small-town siblings with noble dreams for the film industry.

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