Filmmaking is expensive. For far too long filmmaking has remained an exclusive artform due to high costs and extremely limited opportunities. Even if your script impresses a cadre of executives, your final product will vastly differ from your original vision. That’s Hollywood. But, could the way we finance films lead to a decentralized Hollywood with blockchain and NFTs? That would certainly be good news for artists everywhere.
Any filmmaker new to the world of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology may tremble in confusion at the idea of going directly to fans and devotees in order to fund their films. However, the film and entertainment industry is making significant strides toward blockchain. NFTs could potentially fund projects or gain funds by sharing and providing exclusive content with fans who invest directly into projects. (Examples below!)
In this article, we’ll take a look at the landscape of NFT film distribution, what it takes to fund your film with blockchain technology, and who is leading the way.
But first, let’s glimpse over some of these intimidating terms.
What does Blockchain mean?
To boil it down, blockchain is a system of recording information in a way that’s difficult or impossible to hack. It’s essentially a digital ledger of transactions duplicated and distributed across the entire network of computer systems on blockchain, according to Euromoney Learning.
If you never heard of blockchain before, you’ll probably more readily recognize an example of blockchain — such as the digital currency Bitcoin. Another blockchain example is Ethereum with its own native cryptocurrency ETH. In addition, the Ethereum blockchain lets you create programmable tokens used in NFTs.
What’s an NFT?
An NFT, or non-fungible token, is a digital asset that represents ownership of digital items like artwork, music, videos, and even real estate. They could be considered modern-day collectibles.
No two NFTs are the same. “Non-fungible” refers to one-of-a-kind which means that NFTs cannot be reproduced or substituted. They are powered by smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain. However, this is not to be confused with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. That said, they’re trackable by using Ethereum’s blockchain as a public ledger.
Although NFTs are created and stored on the Ethereum network, there are other blockchains that support them like Flow and Tezos.
By contrast, fungible items are exchangeable because they’re defined by their value as opposed to their unique properties.
Examples of NFTs consist of both digital art and real-world items:
- In-Game Item
- Domain Name
- Tickets to events
- Deed to a car
- Legal document
NFTs are changing the film industry
The way in which Hollywood has effectively taken to NFTs has brought both filmmakers and their audiences closer together around their shared interests. In one sense, you can appeal to the fandom centered around your project, and in another, you can fund your project in a way that’s not too far removed from crowdfunding.
Let’s take a closer look at projects and creatives who applied NFTs to their fundraising.
Godzilla vs. Kong
It’s only fitting that two of the world’s most recognizable pop culture icons would entice audiences as collectible NFTs. Released in 2021, Godzilla vs. Kong is Legendary Pictures’ fourth entry into the MonsterVerse.
To take advantage of the film’s built-in international appeal, Legendary Pictures partnered with the artist BossLogic in order to create exclusive collectible NFTs. So, what did this look like? Well, you need to purchase to find out! But, what we do know is that they come in the form of epic artwork of the titular monsters battling.
It’s plain to see how the projects with the most iconic characters will prosper greatly from NFTs and fan culture. From digital comic books to statues and video clips, Marvel partnered with VeVe to release its collectible NFTs.
Tarantino and Lynch NFTs
Even filmmaking legends Quentin Tarantino and David Lynch embraced the advent of NFTs. Tarantino recently launched his own NFTs in the form of uncut scenes from Pulp Fiction that will add even more context behind the film’s characters and their backgrounds. They will also include uncut handwritten scripts of Pulp Fiction and exclusive commentary from its infamous director.
Lynch is no stranger to trying his hand across various mediums of the visual arts. He collaborated with the New York gallery Sperone in 2019, showcasing his dark vision through thought-provoking mixed media works. So, it’s no surprise that the auteur filmmaker teamed up with the band Interpol for a seven-part NFT release, where a new NFT will be released every two days for two weeks. The first NFT is a short film entitled I Touch a Red Button.
NFT Film Distribution
NFTs aren’t just good news for the big dogs of the industry with recognizable names and projects. As we mentioned above, there’s a lack of diversity in both content and creatives due to there being so few at the top who hold power over creative decision-making. One way to bring power to the filmmakers is by effectively cutting out the middleman and reaching your audience directly.
Creative Artists Agency (CAA)
It will be fascinating to see how this decentralization concept develops. In one case, CAA is planning to work alongside entities like Google, Samsung, and Sony to decentralize distribution. In their model, content is provided on a peer-to-peer basis with users rewarded for sharing bandwidth. Plus, they will include an NFT marketplace called ThetaDrop. It will be interesting to see how streaming services respond.
In another instance, Decentralized Pictures, co-founded by Roman Coppola with tech guru Leo Matchett, and American Zoetrope Michael Musante operates from a more meritocratic position. (Plus, Gia and Sophia Coppola are on the board!)
According to their website, they have an “online community of creatives, film fans, and industry professionals” that vote on projects to determine which receive financing from the company’s film fund.
“We’ll help finance it, and introduce you to the people who will help you execute it in a professional way.” —Decentralized Pictures
Social Media Models
Writing for Cointelegraph, Ian Lewinter makes a compelling pitch for a decentralized film industry. His model is crafted in the form of a social media app focused on decentralization and encourages fans to engage.
He writes, “In the same way that decentralized social media platforms offer tokens to influencers when they receive fan engagement, so would a decentralized platform incentivize users to engage with film content on the platform. Fans could theoretically engage with creator projects, voting on which film concepts are most interesting and receive utility tokens for doing so.”
Also in this model, there would entail an evaluation process by accredited investors who could provide feedback and access what films to invest in. Ultimately, this ecosystem would accumulate funds from multiple sources, essentially meaning “the fans who pay tickets to see the films would be the one’s green-lighting projects.”
The Bottom Line: Decentralized Hollywood
The excitement sizzling around the NFT market is real and making quite an impact on the film industry. NFTs come in many shapes and sizes but in the way they’re used to appeal to fans, they’re often exclusive GIFs, BTS, digital statues, and even short films. These seem to raise money if you have an iconic character or film to appeal to a fanbase.
However, for filmmakers without the name to prop them up, a decentralized Hollywood could lead to a meritocratic system. That means if your idea has the right stuff and is decided on democratically, it could lead to investment opportunities.
Or, if you prefer more of a competition model, you can seek out platforms like what Decentralized Pictures provides, and see if you can gain influence among your peers. In any case, the world of blockchain is heading toward exciting times with lots of new possibilities for filmmakers.