In Cannes for the premiere of Wes Anderson’s “Asteroid City,” Roman Coppola, the film’s story co-creator—and acclaimed director and producer in his own right—was likewise celebrating the 1st anniversary of his Web 3.0 film fund, Decentralized Pictures.
Speaking to Decrypt, Coppola stated that he and partners Leo Matchett and Mike Musante created Decentralized Pictures to break the stranglehold of centralized gatekeepers over the film industry.
“There are several studios and very powerful agents who control the business,” he stated. “We wish to attract filmmaking tools, contacts, and support to people who need their voices to be heard.”
A film financing DAO
Decentralized Pictures uses a mix of blockchain tech and a decentralized governance structure to effectively create a film financing DAO.
Built on a fork of the Tezos blockchain tech dubbed T4L3NT Net, the platform runs on its own native crypto token, FILMCredits. Aspiring directors can buy FILMCredits to submit their work for financing opportunities, or earn them by reviewing others’ projects.
Accumulated FILMCredits can then be staked to facilitate favored projects, offered to other users as payment for reviews or feedback, or used to pay for app charges for creative financing rewards.
The film fund is structured as a 501c(3) nonprofit; rather than grants, its awards are treated as assets in the winning film, with a share of the profits returning to Decentralized Pictures to be invested in future awards on the platform.
The Film3 movement
Decentralized Pictures is one of the key players in the burgeoning “Film3” movement, which uses Web 3.0 technologies such as blockchain tech to disrupt the film industry’s centralized processes and institutions. The fund’s CEO, Leo Matchett, informed Decrypt that blockchain tech is a critical tool in Decentralized Pictures’ setup.
” Blockchain Tech establish a fair and transparent record of the voting,” Matchett stated. “Determining which artists are most deserving of support from the foundation is the goal, and that process has to be open and available to all.”
At the heart of the “virtual studio” launched on the platform is the Decentralized Pictures community, which connects filmmakers, writers, and technicians universally to exchange services and content.
“Imagine if we’re making a movie and need a shot of a unique flower that only grows in Africa,” Coppola stated, “we could issue a call to action for someone within our community to capture that shot. Or if we required a joke for a particular scene, we could offer a percentage of the movie’s earnings for the best submission.”
Finding “unique voices”
By using a decentralized governance model, the platform hopes to surface underrepresented filmmakers, Coppola said.
“We have this ambition to really truly find unique voices,” he informed Decrypt. “Every couple of years, there’s a new Tarantino or a new Kubrick. It’s inevitable that someone we don’t know about now will emerge as an important filmmaking voice of their time.”
The fund has already had some early successes in supporting new voices in the industry. Coppola expresses particular pride in the past few success of the short film project “Holy Smokes,” which won a $40,000 Comedy Screenplay Award granted by Decentralized Pictures in partnership with “Clerks” director Kevin Smith. He fondly recalls the moment when the script’s two young writers, Gabby Fiszman and Isabella Ares, were declared the winners.
“I was there when they announced the winners,” he says. “That experience gave me goosebumps. A sense of possibility blossomed—giving us the feeling that yes, we can do this, something is happening. That truly made my day. I wish to see such moments multiply, happening 10 times a day”.
Decentralized Pictures has likewise thrown its weight behind Film3 filmmakers. It recently awarded the $100,000 Andrews/Bernard prize, sponsored by “Ocean’s Eleven” director Steven Soderbergh, to Miguel Faus for his feature “Calladita.” The Spanish film is the 1st European feature financed through an Non-Fungible Token (NFT) crowdfunding raise.
And there is more to come; Matchett recently revealed that next grants in the works include the NAx Award and a horror award supported by “legends of the genre.”
As of now live on the platform are awards including the iPhone Filmmaking Initiative, an ongoing “rent assistance grant” for screenwriters, and “That Film I Made,” with a prize that includes $2,500 in financing and mentorship from Coppola himself.
For Coppola, Web 3.0 promises to catalyze the emergence of new voices in filmmaking, and possibly even new genres.
“I’m a curious individual, and I’m interested in technology,” he stated. “You always ponder how it can potentially serve the art of filmmaking, an inherently technological craft. Its existence fundamentally relies on the photochemical process and camera mechanics.”
“With the advent of the digital age, photochemical processes have been overtaken, and editing is now primarily computer-based,” Coppola continued. “Whenever technology comes along, there’s always someplace where it supports filmmaking.”