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The astounding success of the 2016 film Deadpool isn’t a secret to anybody. It made $783.1M at the box office. What’s less well known is that Marvel and Fox Studios were reluctant to make the film. Thankfully, an accidental leak of test footage garnered a mind-boggling response from netizens, forcing studio executives to give the green light to the movie.
While we may never learn whether the leak was genuinely accidental, it demonstrated the power of the masses and how that power can influence filmmaking for the better. The advent of Web3 and its underlying technology will help push the bar further and result in a new era of filmmaking: Film3.
At present, the global film industry continues to be the playground of the top few production houses. Everything from casting and financing to distribution is easy for those associated with these production firms. But smaller films, indie filmmakers and emerging actors find it almost impossible to break through. The result? Audiences see only those movies that studios want them to see, and countless good scripts, ideas, actors and directors are snubbed before they ever reach the big screen.
The new era of filmmaking powered by Web3 aims to change those power dynamics and create a world of new opportunities for films and filmmakers.
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The evolution of films with the internet
One might wonder how Web3, the new iteration of the internet, can give rise to a new era in filmmaking. But if you look closely, every stage in the internet’s evolution has brought about a significant shift in content consumption patterns.
Between 1990 and the early 2000s — the Web1 era — the internet was a one-way publishing medium, where users could publish information and wait for it to find its readers. Similarly, Film1 was the era when filmmakers would make films and hope they found their audience. Producers would give a schedule, date and time and those who tuned in at that time could consume the content.
Then came Web2, facilitating two-way interactions between users and content. In parallel, Film2 was the era when studios and filmmakers consolidated to create films and take them to their target audience.
The rise of streaming services during this time made it possible for people to consume films and other content anytime and anywhere. But similarly to how the tech giants control Web2, the major production studios dictate Film2.
Now, with recent advancements in blockchain technology, we are at the dawn of a new, decentralized, trustless and more secure iteration of the internet called Web3. On Web3, for the most part, users hold the ultimate power to manage internet platforms and their operations. This internet iteration is resulting in a new era of filmmaking, Film3, where audiences, not studios, own and control the entertainment industry.
Film3: challenging the film industry’s power dynamics
The rationale for the development of Film3 is straightforward: Audiences need to be at the helm of the entertainment industry. Today, studios select scripts, finance the films and distribute them. Audiences then consume this content and give their verdict.
But in Film3, audiences will vet script ideas and casting choices and even get the freedom to crowdfund their favorite ideas. Studios will come in only at the later stages to fund and distribute these films. This bottom-up approach ensures that good content prevails, real talent is recognized and filmmakers have complete creative control to bring their ideas to life.
This might look a little far-fetched, but it is already in action, thanks to blockchain and its byproducts. Trevor Hawkins, a filmmaker widely known for his work on the feature film Lotawana, created an NFT collection to finance his new film. The collection features 1,000 unique NFTs, sold at $1,000 each. They represent part ownership of the film and a share in the profits.
So the foundations of Film3 are already being laid. Every aspect of traditional filmmaking, from ideation and production to finance and distribution, will undergo a metamorphosis. Decentralized production houses using cryptocurrencies and NFTs will transform film financing. The need for middlemen and hefty upfront investments will drop to all-time lows. Film-related DAOs will ensure that audiences participate in key decision-making. Virtual cinemas and metaverse theaters will be a huge part of the Film3 distribution landscape, allowing people to experience movies in unprecedented ways. Moreover, emerging actors and filmmakers will be able to create brand and industry connections with the help of social tokens.
All of this only scratches the surface of what’s possible with Film3. This new era of filmmaking will likely bring myriad new opportunities for creators, producers, distributors and artists, creating a space where everyone can thrive.
Adapting to the ways of Web3
The past century saw the film industry undergo and adapt to many changes, from single screens to DVDs and then to streaming services. However, the transition from Film2 to Film3 will be the biggest one yet. It will challenge every aspect of filmmaking and open new dimensions for the industry.
The good news is that the film industry is open to this transition. Over the past year, Hollywood insiders have experimented with incorporating NFTs and cryptocurrencies, and they are lining up for the metaverse. If the implementation goes as planned, the world will see a new era where films and their creation have a whole different process and meaning.
Jake Fraser is the Head of Business Development at Mogul Productions.