The Film Industry: New Avenues in Web3

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The winds of change are blowing once again in entertainment. With feature films made by studios seemingly in flux over the recent years and industry leaders looking to cut production costs, filmmakers, directors and screenwriters are turning toward a new way of making movies and TV series. Web3, blockchain technology and NFTs, which I’ve discussed in several previous articles, could provide new avenues for the film industry.

A concept central to this evolution is the decentralized autonomous organization or DAO. According to tech futurist Cathy Hackl, DAOs are making real the possibility for “a way of organizing 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.”

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It’s like a condo board of owners who pool funds and make jointly creative decisions. This model could very well address a major pain point in the film business. There are only a handful of executives in Hollywood and elsewhere with “the button” — the authority to say “it’s a go.” It could put the power back into the hands of creators and their backers.

Not only are the next generations of rising filmmakers embracing this new avenue of films getting made, but other notable filmmakers have jumped on board too.

With the aim to support independent filmmakers and creatives, Decentralized Pictures is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit film start-up helmed by Roman Coppola. The company is still in beta, but eventually, the holders of the film credit token will have the authority to vote in a decentralized community process and decide which films get made, who gets cast, who directs, etc. Every interaction will be recorded on the company’s blockchain.

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KinoDao, helmed by Swedish film producer Niels Juul, an entrepreneur and executive producer whose credits include Martin Scorcese’s Silence and The Irishman, is another notable project. According to an interview piece with Niels Juuls in Decrypt, “Each NFT will be a membership pass of sorts, granting voting power in studio decisions as well as other benefits like free merchandise, film festival afterparty tickets, their name in film credits, and more NFTs.” Similar to other NFT film startups, a portion of the profits for each film will be funneled back to the community and earmarked toward the next project.

Spike Lee’s The Visible Project is another example of NFTs forging new paths in the film industry. The collection launch features 3,945 NFTs of original frames in his 1986 film She’s Gotta Have It. The Visible Project has partnered with Habitat Labs, an NFT white-label service provider to implement this new way of filmmaking.

These efforts not only raise the budget for making the film but create a decentralized community around the project, which creates a sense of affiliation to a group. Think of the Bored Ape Yacht Club whose members constantly flaunt their profile ape photos on Twitter, reminding people of the value of their NFT and elite affiliation.

It took me a moment to wrap my head around this whole idea. As with most things in what is commonly labeled Web3, it’s a new paradigm shift. Creators have the power. People who have been locked out of the studio system because they don’t have a track record or agent could have a new avenue to do what they love.

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