If there were a more filmmaker-friendly blockchain version of Netflix being built from the ground up, would you put your film on it?
Companies using the power of the blockchain to finance films, create smart contracts, and distribute work are popping up everywhere. All of these FinTech (new financial technology) companies or platforms are at best in beta mode, with many being in alpha or pre-alpha, early stages of launching and testing their models and software. But they offer some pretty interesting food for thought for indie filmmakers.
For starters, the transparency of blockchain ledger system means that if your film is viewed by someone, you get paid immediately. No waiting for your payouts from aggregators or fees from licensees or that theater owner who said he would mail you a check with your score of a screening. Secondly, they offer a brand new way to get your film in front of new eyeballs and many of them claim to be aggressively seeking content for their platforms.
Of course, start-ups funded by Sony and Hollywood mega-producers scouring top-tier film festivals for films don’t exactly scream decentralized. But right now, building platforms like these takes resources, time, and money, so them’s the breaks.
As we covered in the conversation about the Atari film team tokenizing every aspect of their film (without developers), you can’t really create this stuff yourself. As Zack Skeith of Three Lefts explained:
"It really depends if you want to take it yourself and go and build your own underlying blockchain…you don't need to go and hire massive blockchain developers to do it right off the bat a because there's a shortage of them and they're quite expensive and there's a lot of companies out there that are working in this space
Basically, unless you know how to build your own underlying blockchain, you can’t. Your best bet is to keep an eye on what comes out of people already working in the space.
If you’re interested in what a blockchain-based distribution could look like, or what a better version of Netflix could be with new technology, here are some companies to check out.
Company Description: SingularDTV is a blockchain entertainment studio laying the foundation for a decentralized entertainment industry. By building the future of rights management, project funding, and peer-to-peer distribution, SingularDTV’s platform empowers artists and creators with powerful tools to manage projects from development to distribution.
Films being distributed through SingularDTV: Alex Winter’s Trust Machine: The Story of Blockchain, which is currently playing in theaters in Los Angeles and New York, with the worldwide release to follow on SingularDTV’s distribution portal where “audiences can discover Tokit-generated, and SingularDTV-produced and acquired films, television, music, podcasts, and more while enjoying a direct peer-to-peer relationship with the artists they love.” They have also announced the release of a narrative feature titled The Happy Worker, EP’d by David Lynch.
Interesting tech: SingularDTV’s tokenization & rights management tool, Tokit, allows artists to create tokens or smart contract systems to make sure royalties and residuals go transparently to where they are supposed to go.
Company Description: It's your content, your ownership, your control. We're built on the blockchain. This means we empower your creativity without stealing your data or trolling you with algorithms. It's time for you to get paid for your content. Not in a monthly check in the mail way, in the blockchain totally instant way. It's time you hold the copyright to your stuff. You created it, you should reap the benefits.
Films being distributed through Vevue: No Postage Necessary, a romantic comedy directed by Jeremy Culver. According to the official film site, in addition to being available on traditional platforms, “No Postage Necessary is the first film in history to ever be released using blockchain technology, partnering with Vevue on the Qtum blockchain. Viewers anywhere in the world can download the Vevue app or go to Vevue.com to stream the film using cryptocurrency as payment."
How to participate as a content creator: Create a login, upload a video, and send a message to Vevue to get your account apprived for V-premium.
White paper can be found here.
3. Ara Blocks
Company Description: Ara represents a new era for the internet, where we get our voices back and where what's ours is ours. All content, decentralized, secure, owned, distributed, paid for, and rewarded between peers. Distribute content on your own terms. Get your work into the hands of highly-engaged consumers and reward them for being part of your community.
How publishing works: According to Ara, "Sell your movies, music, TV, books, and more direct-to-consumer across the Ara network via Ara-powered marketplaces, private content portals, or even your own websites & social media accounts. Eliminate hosting costs and middle-men through secure peer-to-peer file sharing. Reward consumers for hosting and supporting your content using Ara token rewards. Ara file system and decentralized licenses ensure that no matter where you distribute your content, you retain ownership & control."
How to participate as a content creator: contact directly through this creator form.
White paper can be found here.
Company Description: We let revenues flow straight into your pocket. FilmChain collects revenues and automatically allocates them to all participants invested in a film. It lowers friction, increases transparency and cuts down settlement times. Developing on Ethereum blockchain.
How to contact: email email@example.com to request access to private Alpha.
Other notable accomplishments: Big Couch came up with a ‘crewfunding’ platform, where film crews invest in films they work on by accepting lower crew fees in return for profit shares.
Company Description: Cinezen Blockchained Entertainment AB is a Swedish start-up founded in Gothenburg in September 2017 with the goal to revolutionize the existing model of film distribution. We believe that blockchain technologies can unlock enormous hidden value in global film heritage, introduce much needed transparency and accountability to the process of film and content distribution, radically increase availability of content to viewers around the world and create new pathways for rights holders to reach a wider audience and monetize their libraries.
How it works: In the beta version, movies are rented with cryptocurrency payment in the form of ether (ETH). According to SVE, "This version is a Proof-Of-Concept for both the film industry and the crypto community as it demonstrates how the process works and helps film companies adapt to crypto economy. It also helps us to build a community of early adopters and to receive very valuable feedback from our first users."
Company Description: Movie theaters, television, and cable were all disrupted by the advent of streaming video on-demand. Now, Binge is poised to disrupt the streaming industry in a revolution driven by blockchain technology. Decentralized delivery yields low-cost, high-speed, high-definition media access for consumers everywhere. Binge’s BVOD™ service forms a bridge that connects creators and distributors to massive untapped audiences internationally.
How distribution works: Using blockchains transparent ledger technology, Binge pays out real-time revenue sharing between content creators while sharing network data and analysis to get your content in front of more eyes.
Films being distributed on Binge: Documentary Beyond Bitcoin directed by Jake Witzenfeld is set to be released on Binge in Spring 2019.
Interesting note: According to Screen Daily, Binge has been at festivals like Cannes with the goal to buy global rights and pay minimum guarantees up front and offer back-end participation to differentiate what filmmakers get that’s better than any Netflix deal.
White paper can be found here.
Company description: Hold a stake in film and television. Earn profits when your projects hit the screens and earn Seed by sharing and promoting content.
Films being distributed through ADEPT: Decentralized by Chrispther Arcella and starring Amari Cheatom will be available on Blossom TV as well as NYC.
Interesting tech: LiveTree created its own Seed Token (SED) in early 2018 that you use when distributing on ADEPT and Blossom TV. According to LiveTree, “Seed tokens can be used throughout the LiveTree platform for a wide range of functions. LiveTree TV users can pay their monthly subscriptions with Seed tokens at a valuation of one Seed to one US dollar. Crucially, Seed tokens are used to back new projects. LiveTree users can put as many Seed tokens as they like into individual projects or an entire catalogue presented by a community. The project’s revenues are then converted into Seed and distributed proportionally to all of its backers.” Also worth noting, ADEPT stands for Advanced Decentralized Entertainment Platform for Transparent distribution).
How to participate as a content creator: request access on their site.
Company Description: StreamSpace is a content delivery and distribution world computer secured by smart contracts and powered by an incentivized distributed network. A key component of the platform is the StreamSpace popularity-driven distributed Content Delivery Network (dCDN), where nodes are compensated for storing and delivering content. For example, someone could monetize the extra computing power on their home PC by becoming a StreamSpace Curator and delivering encrypted content to consumers.
Launch Dates: This Austin-based company will be launching the platform in 2019.
White paper can be found here.
Company Description: The first direct-to-consumer media platform that allows people to discover content through the power of SOCIAL CONNECTIONS.
How it works: Users of Treeti are able to monetize their social influence if anyone rents or buys something they've recommended. Unlike traditional VOD platforms, Treeti lets filmmakers access their marketing, data, or audience connection. Read more in our article here.
Partners: Two listed include IFP & Film Independent
How to participate as a content creator: Send an email or form
Know of any interesting platforms working in this space that we should keep an eye on? Share in the comments.
Want to do some more reading on blockchain and filmmaker? Check these out: