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Could NFTs change the game for indie filmmakers?

Could NFTs change the game for indie filmmakers?

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have become quite a runaway hit in 2021. For the movie-making industry in particular, production houses could leverage NFTs to shape a new business model to keep the fans hooked to their brand. 

Just like the arrival of streaming services effectively brought an end to DVDs (Netflix pivot is a good case in point), NFTs are primed to take the place of collector’s items including director’s cut DVDs, movie posters, ticket stubs etc.The NFT model has a proven track record in movie merchandising. Four years ago, 20th Century Fox released limited edition Deadpool 2 posters to promote the film. 

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Of late, more and more streaming companies are jumping on the NFT bandwagon: Disney released an NFT collection of its most beloved characters (titled “Golden Moments); Warner Bros is releasing digital collectibles inspired by The Matrix franchise; and Lionsgate could have NFTs of mega-successful movies like John Wick and Dirty Dancing in the works. Even the well-known director Quentin Tarantino claims to have plans to auction off seven uncut scenes from Pulp Fiction on OpenSea, the world’s first and largest NFT marketplace. 

NFTs to democratise Hollywood

Niels Juul, the executive producer of Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, is set to make Hollywood’s first feature film fully funded by NFTs. He has roped in the hero and the director for the film, titled A Wing and a Prayer, and will announce their names at the Berlin Film Festival in February. 

Juul has set up a production company called NFT Studios to bankroll the project. He plans to raise between USD 8 million to USD 10 million by selling 10,000 NFTs—promising investors a cut of the box-office profits and licensing rights, the opportunity to visit the film’s sets, as well as the option to meet the film’s cast and attend its premiere.

“The studios are mainly doing big franchise films, an independent film can take years and years,” said Juul. The idea behind the new funding model is to help small projects get off the ground and trim the spun-out timelines (takes upto 8 years for indie films) to hit the theatres or OTTs. 

Another first-mover in the indie film industry is Kevin Smith, who announced his decision to auction his horror feature anthology Killroy Was Here as an NFT last year. Smith explained, “Whoever buys it could choose to monetize it traditionally, or simply own a film that nobody ever sees but them.” 

The NFT distribution and viewing platform Vuele is launching the first NFT feature film, Zero Contact, this year. Vuele is the first platform to deliver feature films and digital collectible entertainment content as NFTs. 

Oscar-winner Anthony Hopkins stars in the film, shot largely over Zoom during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, and tells the story of five people from different parts of the world who join forces to shut down a late tech titan’s most secret invention—a machine that could either solve all of mankind’s problems or trigger apocalypse. 

The launch of the trailer coincided with a Golden Ticket lottery, including a variety of digital collectibles developed by CurrencyWorks and gives official access to the first four NFT films to be available on the platform.

It remains to be seen if NFTs hold the potential to open the cash-strapped indie film world to a new source of capital or end up becoming a short-lived gold rush.  

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Srishti Mukherjee
Drowned in reading sci-fi, fantasy, and classics in equal measure; Srishti carries her bond with literature head-on into the world of science and tech, learning and writing about the fascinating possibilities in the fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Making hyperrealistic paintings of her dog Pickle and going through succession memes are her ideas of fun.

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