- Director Kevin Smith will release a feature film that can only be accessed via NFTs minted on Secret Network, the same platform Quentin Tarantino used.
- Holders can use their NFT images to create short films, some of which Smith will use to create a feature-length sequel.
Around this time last year, “Clerks” and “Mallrats” director Kevin Smith was set to release his new horror film “Killroy Was Here” as a single NFT, which would grant the buyer exclusive distribution, exhibition, and streaming rights.
That ultimately didn’t happen.
“The road was fraught with many meetings with individuals that didn't move it forward, and perhaps weren't as legit as we thought,” Smith told Decrypt this week. “We met with a lot of people along the way who were like, ‘We know the whales, man, so skip the auction. Give us a couple ETH, and we'll introduce you to people who will buy it.’”
The process sounded “scammy” to Smith, so he held off. Today, he announced a new plan: “Killroy Was Here” will be released via the Secret Network blockchain platform, which recently grabbed headlines for launching NFTs from another indie filmmaker who broke out in the early 1990s: Quentin Tarantino and his lawsuit-yielding “Pulp Fiction” NFTs.
However, Kevin Smith’s Secret NFTs won’t be based around long-buried film artifacts. Instead, the project will span 5,555 NFT collectibles, with each NFT serving as an exclusive access pass to watch the film and bonus materials. Secret NFTs are configured with hidden information that can only be viewed by each respective NFT owner.
Taking after the 1982 George Romero film “Creepshow,” “Killroy Was Here” is a horror anthology film inspired by the World War II-era graffiti meme, and it features a couple tales about a monster who hunts people who hurt children. “If you fuck with kids, you get fucked with/killed by Killroy,” Smith explained about the plot.
“Killroy Was Here” was created in collaboration with students and graduates from Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida, and filmed back in 2017 and 2018. The cast includes Smith's daughter Harley Quinn Smith (recently from the hit Hulu show "Cruel Summer"), pro wrestler Chris Jericho, and Smith's frequent collaborator Jason Mewes (a.k.a. Jay).
The NFTs aren’t just tickets to a digital screener of the film. Each NFT image features a unique rendition of the Killroy monster—like a Bored Ape or CryptoPunk—that owners can freely commercialize and use for their own projects. In fact, Smith wants holders to use their respective Killroys to create short films and animated clips of their own inspired by the original film.
Smith intends to pull in the best of the fan-made short films and bundle them together with his own new footage to create a sequel to "Killroy Was Here"—or potentially multiple sequels. Smith will share the profits from sequels with the creators of any shorts that make the cut.
“Even if 10% of the audience gets the creative bug… bam, man! We’ve got content coming for years, we have sequels galore that the audience is involved with,” Smith said. “It takes you from our consumer to our collaborator, and that's what made me so excited.”
The “Killroy Was Here” NFTs have yet to be shared, but they’re expected to launch on the Legendao marketplace from Secret Network core contributors SCRT Labs later this quarter. As for the price, nothing has been announced, but Smith said that it would be “not that far removed from buying a steelbook version of a DVD.”
He added that while "Killroy Was Here" will initially be exclusively available for NFT holders to watch, that may not always be the case. Smith said he and Legendao could potentially hold free screenings to build awareness for the NFT project, for example, which could boost secondary market interest and pull new collaborators into the community over time.
Rethinking filmmaking in the crypto era
Smith has seen the pushback that meets many celebrities and brands when they enter the NFT space, but said this isn’t a quick attempt to make a buck. “I ain’t coming for the quick cash grab, you know, and this is certainly not going to be a rug pull,” he said.
Instead, he spoke to the democratization of filmmaking, and the ability for NFTs—which act as a deed of ownership to a digital item, such as an artwork or access pass—to fund niche projects and build passionate communities around projects. It’s a blank canvas of possibilities, reminding him of when he broke into the film world with “Clerks” in 1994.
“It reminds me of why I got into film in the first place. Crypto, the blockchain, the metaverse, and NFTs call to mind the ‘90s when I was in indie film, and anything was kind of possible," he said. "I couldn't get a studio to back my play. If I was like, ‘I'm going to let the audience own a piece of the IP, and then whatever they make, we're going to put into a sequel,’ I’d fucking get laughed out of business. But I could do that here.”
Smith is following in Tarantino’s footsteps with a high-profile launch on Secret Network, a platform that has a relatively small NFT ecosystem compared to Ethereum and Solana. Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” NFTs, which allow owners to read unfilmed scenes from the original film script, have drawn a legal challenge from the film studio Miramax.
“Just like I benefited in my real career—when Quentin made ‘Reservoir Dogs,’ and then a couple years later, I made ‘Clerks’—he paved the way for people like me,” said Smith. “It was nice that he kind of did the same in this field as well, without intending to do so at all.”
Asked if he would consider mining his past material for exclusive NFTs, Smith said that he’s unlikely to dig into his old film scripts, given that they’ve been widely distributed over the years. But he’s “inclined to make NFT versions of that horrible tweet that I'm known for” and create some kind of new art from it.
More likely, however, Smith could see himself tapping NFTs to fund and build a community around entirely new films, which he said appeal to a select crowd. “I make Kevin Smith movies,” he said, quipping that there were “maybe 10 people left on the planet” in his audience.
He’s joking, of course, but Smith has built his career around close engagement with his fans. He envisions a future in which an NFT community funds a film project that he can’t push through typical industry routes. And that model, perhaps, could become so appealing that he doesn’t need traditional financing and distribution.
“If I can't get a movie done over there, I could step over here," Smith said. "Even better than that, maybe I just stop thinking about over there. Maybe I'll just start playing here only. If it's fun and easy, and my work’s cut out for me here and I've got an audience, then why go anyplace else?”