Despite turbulence in the crypto market, NFT advocates think the digital objects could revolutionize how films and television series are financed and produced.
PARIS — Advocates of a "participatory internet" (or Web 3.0) dream of an NFT future for cinematic works and animated films, despite the fact that Bitcoin (and cryptocurrency generally) is struggling. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are digital assets based on blockchain technology.
NFT converts say that digital objects could profoundly change the link between the general public and creators of cinematic content by revolutionizing the way animated films and TV series are financed. Even if, by their own admission, none of the experiments currently underway have so far amounted to much.
Recently, the euphoria around cryptos has given way to the type of disillusionment usually associated with a crash. But, according to Mark Warshaw, the producer of the Australian series The Bureau of Magical Things, we’re going to see tokens take off on an industrial scale in the long term.
In fact, animation lends itself particularly well to NFTs, says Max Howard, former Director at Disney and Warner Bros. According to Howard, a British-native now based in Florida, “animation has been a collectible for over 66 years.” That means “there’s a base, and now industry has to tilt towards a new platform with digital collectibles.”
More audience power
Thanks to the decentralized, secure technology of the blockchain, buying an NFT enables a purchaser to get bonus benefits and become a member of a fan club. Given that the success of an animated franchise often depends on fantastical stories and characters capable of capturing the imaginations of multiple generations, what could be more natural than envisioning new NFTs to follow franchise adaptations in books and on screens?
At any rate, that’s the thinking from Warshaw, who was also behind the French series Les Aventures d’Oz and is currently preparing to launch an NFT based on that saga. These NFTs open the door to numerous experiences for children and families. These include immersion in to the Oz universe (3D prints, exclusive video shorts) and educational experiences, such as Roblox and Minecraft summer camps, where you can learn the basics of the Metaverse through gaming.
But the sale of NFTs to the public also means upending the way that productions are financed.
“It’s a reversal of the model. Normally, we bet on a script we believe in, but we only find out upon the release if the bet holds up or not,” says Patrice Poujol, the head of Lumière, a production company based in Hong Kong. “But with the blockchain, we can build an environment where the public can take part in a creative project. We’ll be able to know with confidence whether or not a work is worth it because the audience itself will be deciding how the money flows.”
Duke of York's Picturehouse, Brighton, United Kingdom
Yannick Aline Bossenmayer, Director General for Cascade8, the “NFT lab” of French studio Logical Pictures, thinks NFTs could become a new tool for crowdfunding audiovisual productions. Three years ago, Cascade8 and Patrice Poujol each independently conducted their first tests on blockchain-based, participatory film-financing. Since then, both companies are multiplying their NFT projects, often in order to develop animated works.
If the “tokens” offer various advantages (traceability, constancy, transparency) to improve the management of revenues and enlarge the pool of investors in cinematic works, there are also grey zones, says Poujol.
For example, NFTs allow participating in a work without really conferring royalty-rights to their holders. Lawyers might have a field day.