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The metaverse is on the verge of going mainstream, and that means everybody is trying to barge into the metaverse party. The latest is an alliance between two companies that are creating a metaverse for the supernatural.
Fandomodo Films and Liquid Studios are creating The Supernatural University Experience, which will include a variety of projects: nonfungible tokens, a film trilogy, a TikTok series, and a custom supernatural world in The Sandbox. The companies consider their effort to be a metaverse.
That’s debatable, but we don’t really have any other metaverses around right now to compare it to. And the people creating this supernatural metaverse have gone to a lot of trouble.
TikTok star Zachary Alexander Rice aka @ZachRiceTV (Minions, X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Babysitter, Young Sheldon) has signed on to the first film in the trilogy. Fandomodo is a boutique film & television production and financing company, while Liquid Studios is a talent management company.
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Anthony Kaan, Fandomodo Films CEO, said in an interview with VentureBeat that Rice has been interested in the supernatural for a long time and he came up with the idea along with McKenzie Van Dorne-Rice of Liquid Studios. He said the whole effort has been in the making for five years.
“Zach wanted to create a space where people could study the unexplained phenomena and lore that we have in every culture across the world,” Kaan said. “He calls it his digital Hogwarts, and it will have certifications in cryptozoology, UFOology, conspiracy, and the paranormal.”
At the heart of the effort is a fictional online university– a digital Hogwarts — that focuses its studies on the unexplained, with certifications provided in several fields including Cryptozoology, UFOlogy, Conspiracy, and the Paranormal. It will have distance classes starting in March. Films will come later. And Kaan said the company is actually trying to get a certification for distance learning. The Sandbox world is being built by Women of the Metaverse and Liquid Studios.
A team at Microsoft is creating a Supernatural University-branded Merge Cube augmented reality experience that will be integrated across the experience, including as a virtual learning tool in each of the metaverse-located classes, as well as hosting 3D imagery and custom filters based on the creatures and characters from the experience. Students with Merge Cubes at home can follow along.
Additionally, the AR/VR product will play a key role in The Supernatural University Experience’s first feature film. The school currently has an 18-month wait list for admission and includes psychic medium and expert on the paranormal, Mark Anthony, as well as several other experts in each of the concentrations.
“I wanted to create a gathering place where people from around the world could study the lore and unexplained mysteries that exist in every culture.” said The Supernatural University co-creator and producer Zach Thomson (Finite Water).
The Supernatural University Experience will be building its first campus in The Sandbox Metaverse, through a partnership with Women of the Metaverse (WOTM), a creative studio and development incubator that supports women founders entering the Web 3 generation, founded by Amanda Archer and Farah Selena.
Kaan said that the films will be treated as fiction, but they will explore myths of the real world, such as the QAnon conspiracy. Some people consider that to be fact and many consider it to be bogus. But Kaan said the companies won’t be presenting their own conclusions about some of these topics.
“These fanciful stories serve as incredible playgrounds for the imagination,” said Kaan. “Just like the metaverse itself, we’re creating a space for those addicted to living life more fully than the real world allows, creating a world with no limits to the imagination and spirit, where creatures of every shape and color can breathe, flourish and succeed.”
The focus of the film franchise centers on one of SUE’s concentrations, Cryptozoology, the study of creatures and animals that have long been the subject of mythical lore. Some “Cryptids” like the gorilla, giant squid, and okapi, are no longer hearsay and legend but real animals recognized by science, Kaan said.
“Cryptozoology is the study of creatures and animals from every culture that have been the subject of debate, curiosity. The Loch Ness Monster is a perfect example of one of those creatures,” Kaan said. “Our first film explores the theory that we’ve all seen with QAnon over the last few years that lizard people have been controlling the strings of power across the world for years.”
Others, like the Chupacabra, Tikbalang (Filipino Horse Man), and Kappa (Japanese Water Demon) continue to tempt the hopeful and the adventurous with the possibility of their existence.
The first two films are Lycan, directed by Nell Teare (Bolivar), written by Thomson, which explores the legend of the Michigan Dog Man; and Lizard People, written and directed by Chris Hall (Fight of the Living Dead, Constantine, The Matrix Revolutions), that delves into the existence of an underground cabal of cold-blooded humanoid reptilians secretly pulling the strings of global power for centuries. Characters from each of the films will live in the metaverse, within distinct experiences built around each film.
I asked Kaan if he was worried that people would see the QAnon-related film as misinformation. He said the start of each film will have a disclaimer that will label it as a work of fiction.
“The way we dance across that line, or the way we play with that is, our story is focused on an individual,” said Kaan. “He’s a veteran who’s just come back from Afghanistan. And it’s more of a statement of what happens to these veterans when they come home. This guy comes back. He is completely destroyed, both mentally and physically. And the question is what does PTSD do? What is that experience? How does it affect the people who come back? They have trouble readjusting to society. We dive right into that and ask the question. This guy is going through severe PTSD, he’s having hallucinations. He is going through this experience, that ultimately we are asking the viewer to question whether it’s real or not.”
Kaan added, “We are not discussing Qanon in any way. We’re discussing this theory. And we’re discussing it from the perspective of somebody who has been damaged. The question is what happens to these people.”
In addition to starring in Lycan, TikTok influencer Rice will host a new series on TikTok called Monsters, Myths and Mayhem, that will live both on TikTok and within the supernatural metaverse. The show will explore all topics from The Supernatural University Experience including the film franchise, the Sandbox launch, and more.
As one of the top 1% creators on TikTok, Rice has built a huge following with over 750 million views to date, a 23.7% interaction rate, and an average of 1.45 million views per video.
An NFT project based on the characters from the feature films, as well as the Supernatural University, will drop to fans across the globe to coincide with the launch of the campus and each film. Famed artist, producer, and co-creator of The Supernatural University Experience, McKenzie Van Dorne-Rice (Finite Water, Destination Supernatural), will design and create each of the characters within the metaverse. The roadmap of the NFT metaverse project includes bringing to life the characters from the transmedia universe (cryptids, aliens, and more) as high-quality 3D-printed collectibles, an animated series, comic books, and custom merchandise.
The NFT’s will contain smart contracts that will also allow fans to attend red carpet events with an exclusive in-person membership, visit the film sets, hold assets in a video game, see behind-the-scenes footage, and have chances to win prizes.
“This NFT project is incredible because it is about community first,” said Van Dorn Rice. “The joy of being part of a group that shares the same passion and interests is so fulfilling. Ultimately, The Supernatural University Universe was created for the fans and the NFT project is yet another step deeper into that all-encompassing world.”