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The winds of change are blowing again in entertainment. With feature films made by studios apparently evolving in recent years and industry leaders looking to reduce production costs, filmmakers, directors and screenwriters are turning to a new way of making films and television series. Web3, blockchain technology and NFTs, which I have discussed in several previous articles, could offer new avenues for the film industry.
A central concept in this evolution is the Decentralized Autonomous Organization or DAO. According to tech futurist Cathy Hackl, DAOs are make real the possibility for “a way to organize with other people around the world, without knowing each other and establishing your own rules, and making your own decisions autonomously, all encoded on a Blockchain”.
It’s like a board of co-owners pooling funds and making creative decisions together. This model could very well solve a major problem in the film industry. There are only a handful of executives in Hollywood and elsewhere with “the button” – the authority to say “let’s go”. This could put the power back in the hands of creators and their backers.
Not only are the next generations of emerging filmmakers embracing this new path of filmmaking, but other notable filmmakers have jumped on board as well.
With the goal of supporting independent filmmakers and creatives, Decentralized Pictures is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit film startup led by Roman Coppola. The company is still in beta, but eventually holders of the film’s credit token will have the power to vote in a decentralized community process and decide which films will be made, who will be cast, who will direct, etc. Each interaction will be recorded on the company’s blockchain.
KinoDao, directed by Swedish film producer Niels Juul, an entrepreneur and executive producer whose credits include Martin Scorsese The silence and The Irishman, is another notable project. According to an interview room with Niels Juuls in Decrypt, “Each NFT will be a sort of membership pass, granting voting rights in studio decisions as well as other perks like free merchandise, tickets to film festival afterparties, their name in movie credits, and more NFTs.” Similar to other NFT movie startups, a portion of the profits from each movie will be donated to the community and allocated to the next project.
Spike Lee’s The Visible Project is another example of NFT breaking new ground in the film industry. The collection launch includes 3,945 NFTs original footage in his 1986 film She must have it. The visible project has joined with Habitat Labs, a white label NFT service provider to implement this new way of making movies.
These efforts not only increase the filmmaking budget, but create a decentralized community around the project, which creates a sense of group affiliation. Think of the Bored Ape Yacht Club whose members constantly post their profile pictures on Twitter, reminding people of the value of their NFT and elite membership.
It took me a while to figure out this whole idea. As with most things in what is commonly referred to as Web3, this is a new paradigm shift. The creators have the power. People who have been left out of the studio system because they don’t have a background or an agent might have a new avenue to do what they love.