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Set apart from Cannes’ iconic Croisette and the Palais des Festivals, "La villa des ministres" has played host to French luminaries ranging from government ministers to writer Romain Gary.
During the 76th edition of the Cannes Film Festival, creators of another kind—independent film producers and directors—gathered in the gardens of the villa to launch the inaugural MetaCannes Festival.
Held online between May 16 and 29, MetaCannes aims to highlight the possibilities of the nascent Film3 movement. Organized by Web3 crowdfunding platform FF3 and Web3 studio The Squad, it showcases feature films, short films and recordings of panels and exchanges with leading Film3 figures.
Just as the evolution of cinema techniques gave rise to the New Wave of French cinema in the 1960s, Web3 has birthed the Film3 movement, its pioneers argue.
"I like to talk about it as the next wave of cinema," said Film3 pioneer and filmmaker Jordan Bayne. Dissatisfied with the way the movie industry worked, and after discovering cryptocurrency in 2015, Bayne founded creative collective the Film Squad in order to explore how indie filmmakers could use Web3 to overcome the obstacles they face.
Bayne also wanted to use Web3 to empower minorities working in the film industry, she explained. "The Squad was born out of trying to figure out how we could solve pain points for filmmakers, like myself as a woman and an LGBTQIA human being, or Black filmmakers, people of color—all those different groups that hadn't had their voices represented,” she told Decrypt. “I felt like this was going to be a revolution."
— The Squad | Foundation of Film3 (@Film3Squad) May 16, 2023
To her, Web3 offers something that traditional Hollywood does not: “Power to the creators, from soup to nuts—from creation, through financing and production,” she said. “Because you can leverage your community to amplify and market a project.”
Communities and CryptoPunks
One filmmaker who’s seized the opportunity presented by Web3 is Miguel Faus. The Spanish director is currently in the final stages of post production on “Calladita,” the first European feature film financed by .
At 30 years old, Faus has already directed two short films, "The Death of Don Quixote" (2018) and "Calladita" (2020), which was acquired for distribution by HBO. After discovering NFTs during the 2020 Covid lockdown, Faus realized that they could be used to help raise funds for the feature-length version of “Calladita.”
He decided to create a collection of NFTs featuring images and sequences from his short film and sell it via a dedicated platform, drumming up support from NFT communities like CryptoPunks. A CryptoPunks owner himself, Faus rallied around 250 members of the community to participate in the crowdfunding effort. “It's an awesome community,” he told Decrypt. “And members of other communities took part as well, like Bored Apes, Nouns DAO, Mfers…"
In all, the “Calladita” crowdfunding effort raised nearly $750,000; a further $100,000 came from a completion funding award sponsored by “Ocean’s Eleven” director Steven Soderbergh, through Web3 film fund Decentralized Pictures.
While he is now exploring the best channels to release “Calladita,” Faus is keen to give back to the community who backed the project. "I want to grow with the community and make its members proud," said Faus. “I'm excited that they will see the movie soon. And then, maybe, we can make a second one,” he added, noting that he’s launched a decentralized autonomous organization () for holders of the “Calladita” NFT collection. “We launched the Calladita DAO, which will hold 50% of the proceeds of the movie,” he told Decrypt. “So hopefully, the holders will be active in managing its treasury and support future projects."
The community aspect of Film3 is important, argued MetaCannes co-organizer Nick Sadler. The co-founder of Web3 crowdfunding platform FF3, Sadler executive produced the Oscar-winning short film “An Irish Goodbye,” which screened as part of MetaCannes. “Film3 gives hope to a whole band of independent filmmakers that just feel like there's no way for them unless they get something signed by Amazon or Netflix,” Sadler told Decrypt. “And it's a good community, something people can rally behind.”
“Creators can change the world.”
“If you change the world for creators, creators can change the world,” Stephen Murray, founder of decentralized film marketing and distribution platform Bingeable, told Decrypt. An early advocate for decentralization in the film industry, he discovered the Film3 movement in early 2022. “I fell in love with the community,” Murray said. “I felt that they already understood what I was trying to do, and I began to talk with them and put ideas together on how we could change the world for creators.”
Bingeable will launch the first two films on its platform in August and October; the project aims to give filmmakers, actors, soundtrack artists, influencers, and NFT holders their own channel, where they can sell VOD rentals or NFTs directly to their social media followers and share the revenue they generate with their community.
“The difference between what the traditional industry has been doing for 125 years and what Film3 is doing, is that we are making the decision to shift the balance of power,” said Murray. “From the distribution mechanisms to the creators and their communities, we’re just saying that it is more valuable to create than to market and distribute. That’s the philosophy and the ethos of Film3 that I fell in love with.''
There are headwinds for Film3 to overcome, though; the ongoing crypto bear market has dampened enthusiasm for Web3 technologies like NFTs, and highlighted just how far Web3 has to go before it hits the mainstream. “Web3 has a lot of promise and opportunity," said Phil McKenzie, co-founder of streaming platform MyCo and co-organizer of the MetaCannes Festival, while conceding that, “We live in a Web2 world.” For McKenzie, the key to adoption lies in “marrying those two worlds together and bridging them; that’s why it’s important to be here in Cannes and interact with producers, distributors [and] film agents.”
The Film3 movement can boast support from some big names in the industry. As Wes Anderson’s “Asteroid City” premiered at the Palais des Festivals, the film’s co-writer, Roman Coppola, joined Decrypt to discuss the Web3 film fund that he co-founded, Decentralized Pictures. One year after its launch, DCP has handed out hundreds of thousands of dollars in awards sponsored by industry names including directors Steven Soderbergh and Kevin Smith.
To Coppola, Film3 is following in the footsteps of the French New Wave, the Italian neorealist movement and the postwar Japanese cinema that fostered the career of Akira Kurosawa. “Those all came from communities; the French New Wave was a group of writers and filmmakers who gathered and helped each other,” he told Decrypt. “The beauty of filmmaking for me is that sense of community; my fantasy is that there'll be a subculture of movies that could come out of DCP,” he added, noting that already, members of the community are connecting on the platform’s Discord to help each other and critique each other’s work. “It's people connecting with one another,” he said. “And I hope that will give rise to some cinema that wouldn't have happened otherwise.”