"Napoleon Dynamite" star Jon Heder and "Workaholics" co-creator are working on the NFT-enhanced animated series "Space Junk," which was announced earlier this week, and the experience has provided both a strong contrast to the traditional Hollywood approach to producing movies and TV series.
With NFTs, Web3 creators have pioneered new types of models that let supporters fund projects and participate in the creation process, and let creators connect directly to fans without typical barriers and middlemen.
“Traditional television is old, slow, and corporate. Things don't happen quickly,” Russo told Decrypt. “Decisions get made though gigantic committees, versus Web3 with Toonstar where it’s like: ‘You want to do it? Let's do it. Let's move now.’”
Toonstar is the animation studio behind “Space Junk,” a web series about blue collar workers cleaning up space debris—with an NFT twist. As with its earlier “The Gimmicks” series, “Space Junk” NFT holders will be able to participate within the community and even help influence future episodes.
Russo likened the Web3 creation process to the experience of developing “Workaholics,” the cult-favorite Comedy Central series that spanned seven series and launched the careers of Adam DeVine and other actors. “Workaholics” began as a YouTube series, with the platform democratizing the means of putting content out to the world. Russo sees the NFT space as much the same kind of opportunity.
“For not that much money, we could film these things and put them on YouTube. And without that, like, there would be no way for me into the industry,” he recalled. “It just feels like we're probably ahead of the curve. And I think [Web3] is a cool place to be creating stuff.”
Heder told Decrypt that he welcomes the opportunity to let “Space Junk” viewers participate in the creative process via NFT voting and access, and that Web3 provides a way for people who are typically just consuming content to now help shape it, as well.
“There's so many creative voices out there now,” Heder said, “that this could be a very good way to really just see what happens when you allow a lot of the audience to put in what they want to see, what they want to hear.”
“Space Junk” isn’t Heder’s first step into Web3, however. He co-founded the Web3 studio and agency Verified Labs, which launched Heder’s Order of the Tigons NFT art project last year on Theta and also recently brought that project into the Ethereum metaverse game, The Sandbox.
He’s also a voice actor on the upcoming Web3 series “Cyko KO: The Animated Series,” which features fellow “Napoleon Dynamite” co-stars Tina Majorino, Efren Ramirez, Haylie Duff, and Jon Gries. It’s also tied into NFTs minted on Theta.
i'm just going to say what we are all thinking....what happened to the tip of Hank's 🍆? pic.twitter.com/bb8T0Yui56
— Space Junk (@spacejunkiesxyz) April 25, 2023
Heder said that he was drawn into Web3 by the prospect of re-embracing his creative side, telling Decrypt that he had been an animator and illustrator in the past before he “put those tools down for a while” as his acting career flourished. Creating in Web3 has allowed him a chance to “get back into my art brain,” he said, and work on developing new IP.
“Once you have these properties and once you create these worlds, and everybody in the entertainment industry knows you’ve got something good,” Heder said, “then the sky's the limit in terms of what you can imagine and what you can create.”