Crypto has always been about disrupting the gatekeepers through decentralization. And Hollywood has a lot of gatekeepers who decide every aspect of a film's life cycle: Will it get made? Who will support it? How much of a budget will it have, and how much effort will be put into distributing it?
Leo Matchett, a Technical Emmy Award winner and CEO of Decentralized Pictures, thinks blockchain voting can help open up many of Hollywood's long-guarded doors to new and more diverse voices. He co-founded DCP, which is a non-profit, with director Roman Coppola.
"We can use blockchain technology to empower artists, discover new artists, and curate great content," Matchett said on the latest episode of Decrypt's gm podcast to discuss how Web3 tools and platforms can open new doors in finance for the movie industry. "We're not trying to take a road necessarily in the status quo studio/film industry highway, right now we're building a little footpath next to it to hopefully get to the same place. And maybe it'll turn into a road and a highway at some point down in the future."
Decentralized Pictures uses community consensus to vote on awards, financial grants, mentorship, or financing for films. Community members submit idea pitches for all to see, voting is free and voters get rewarded in FILMCredits tokens, and the voting is recorded on DCP's blockchain, a fork of the Tezos blockchain.
DCP has already given out a handful of "rent assistance grants," and in April, "Ocean's 11" director Steven Soderbergh donated $300,000 to launch the Andrews/Bernard award grant to give "finishing funds" to filmmakers.
It is now official! Silene and I have won the Rent Assistance Grant #4 from the incredible platform @DCP_Foundation 💚
A million thanks to the impressive ammount of reviewers that dropped by and left some love for my dear Silene, #film3 is in fact the #NextWaveCinema! 🔥 https://t.co/9u26M8BCxW
— filmfreako.eth (@film_freako) August 22, 2022
Unlike a decentralized autonomous organization or DAO, where control is spread amongst members, Decentralized Pictures still relies on a board of directors to provide leadership and review projects being voted on for funding. And its board reads like a who's who of the Hollywood machine, including Roman, Gia, and Sofia Coppola. As Matchett told Decrypt, he and Roman Coppola set up a Bitcoin mine in one of their unused soundstages back in 2013.
"What we're trying to solve here is in Hollywood, what we call the 'drinking from a firehose' problem," Matchett said. "Most of the shops in town and other production companies, studios, they don't take unsolicited material. There's many reasons for that, but one of the biggest ones is development departments are relatively small and the inflow of content would be so much that it would be nearly impossible to review it all... So really think of it like Kickstarter in reverse: it's not crowdfunding, it's crowd curation."
Matchett acknowledges there remains a stigma around crypto and blockchain in Hollywood, but believes it is fading.
"I feel like it's becoming less and less apparent," Matchett said. "Pitching this project in 2017 to studios and production companies was significantly more difficult than it is now. Glazed eyes, kind of jaws dropping, like 'What? You guys are filmmakers, and American Zoetrope has been around for 50 years, and you're getting into this scammy technology? Isn't it all rug pulls and bunny money?'"
As so-called Film3—the class of movie projects that use blockchain and NFTs to get funded or distributed—grows, it might help continue to break down those anti-crypto narratives. Matchett hopes it can also redefine who chooses what art you see.
"One of the biggest criticisms that we've got from some of the industry incumbents is, 'Hey, guys, we love what you're doing, but people don't know what they like, we have to tell them what to like, we do that through advertising, it's always been that way, and will always be that way,'" Matchett said. "To a certain extent, we're trying to prove that wrong—that people do, for the most part, know what they like, and they can help us decide what that is."