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Coppola-backed FILM cryptocurrency boosts independent filmmaking

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Patrick Quinn lives with his wife and 4-year-old daughter in a ger in West Cork, Ireland, away from the global media hub where an aspiring screenwriter might find community or opportunity.

But almost every night, Quinn logs into Decentralized Pictures, an unusual new platform where he can earn and spend a proprietary cryptocurrency called FILM. Quinn is using the system to gather feedback for his new film project (a dark comedy during the Irish Potato Famine), to provide notes to other writers, and even to win funding from the site’s founder.

“I’m sitting here far from everything,” Quinn, 36, said on a recent evening in his writer’s cabin. “So being able to find a place to inspire people to give feedback on my project really meant a lot.”

Quinn is evidence of a case eagerly made by Decentralized executives and other advocates that, contrary to growing suspicions, crypto is not just a poorly regulated asset class where people could lose their life savings or celebrities to brag about their NFTs . It can have beneficial uses.

Crypto could be a way to build a global community not centered around restrictive old Hollywood clubs, they say, and might even help the industry find its next “godfather” or “pulp fiction.” Decentralized is a non-profit organization involving the Coppola filmmaking family that aims to use its unofficial currency to encourage and showcase a new generation of filmmakers who they think may otherwise never be found.

“Decisions about what to make in Hollywood come from a small group of people,” said Michael Musante, co-founder of Decentralized or DCP. “We want to open this up and democratize the process so all these ideas can be tested and developed by new people who will now have the opportunity to break through.”

DCP was founded by several executives at Diorama — the company was long overseen by “The Godfather” director Francis Ford Coppola — including Coppola’s son producer and director Roman Coppola and Zoetrope’s Vice President of Production and Acquisitions Musante. Launched in May, DCP has garnered about 2,000 users, with an eventual goal of 2 million, and the attention of cultural gatekeepers, executives said.

“I know there’s a certain kind of cynicism when people hear the word ‘encryption’ — what’s the value in that, not just hype?” Roman Coppola said. “But we value smart participation from our participants. We think participation should earn them something that will bring in more smart participants and build a community.”

At the heart of DCP is a barter-based town square, which advocates say will never happen on non-encrypted sites, even as some critics ask why current social networks fail to achieve many of the same goals.

Most art industry communities on the web today—for example, a gathering place for writers called Book Twitter—run purely for the interest of participants, who post ideas and receive notes if they get emotional. Screenwriters who want to ensure more regular feedback on their ideas may apply for so-called labs — graduate fellowships run by high-end institutions like Sundance. But the competition in the lab is so intense that most people can’t get in.

Web3 has a different promise – by gamifying and even financializing the concept of feedback, it can lubricate a strong community available to all.

Decentralized systems work this way. The site solicits projects – short films, scripts, pitches – for a small fee. Users can earn cryptocurrency by reviewing these items and interacting with the site in other ways (for example, using their computing power to verify transactions).They can then use the cryptocurrency they earn to enter their my own Items – Others can in turn earn cryptocurrency for their comments.

It’s a self-perpetuating ecosystem—a constant recycling of jobs and money that, if all goes according to plan, will provide creators with feedback and agents and producers with market insights.

“Think about how deeply the filmmakers or studios go to understand what the audience is thinking — it’s basically a test run [after a movie is completed],” said Decentralized CEO Leo Matchett. “Now we’re saying, before you spend a dime making it, you can know how your horror movie idea is going to affect women 18-35. “

Feedback is not the only reward for users. DCP also runs a series of grant contests, paying tens of thousands of dollars (real world) to fund projects that other decentralized members vote on. Users review items under a complex system that measures not only the total number of votes, but also factors such as the voter’s reputation and how often they are used. (Voters can even use cryptocurrency to push the script to a more prominent position on the site, though executives stress that this just ensures more overall reviews, not more positive reviews.)

Projects will then move up and down the public rankings. The top few advance to the final round. There, a small group of professionals makes the final decision on who should receive the cash prize.

Filmmaker Steven Soderbergh sponsored one such contest, each paying $100,000 to three different projects; writer-director Kevin Smith backed one with $40,000. DCP also said it will help steer these blockchain-powered projects to production companies and talent agencies.

“We thought it was a better way to run the competition,” Matchett said. “And it’s all on-chain, so no one can claim that someone manipulated it.” A blockchain is a digital ledger that makes every action on the platform public, making the results of tampering hard to hide.

Young filmmakers say the web3 approach — or film 3, as some in the entertainment industry calls it — could also help remove the unknowns of traditional industries.

“In so many other contests and scholarships, you just throw your material into a hole and hope something happens,” said writer-director Tiffany Lin, whose narrative short “Poachers” about California succulents of illicit trade, funded through a decentralized voting system. “With DCP, you have more control over what you post and you can also track progress in real time to really understand what people think.” She noted that the site offers a high level of analytics, breaking down votes by age and other demographics .

Some of those who submitted to the site also said it could reduce Hollywood’s structural bias. Producer DC Cassidy, who founded the production company Diamond Entertainment and is working on a story of black athletes in extreme sports called “Black People Do,” said platforms like Decentralized have furthered that goal.

“The power of web3 is that you don’t have to attend Chapman, USC, NYU, UCLA or the American Film Institute to meet the right people in the industry,” Cassidy said in an email. “Twitter and Reddit shattered the foundations, web3 shattered the walls.”

Talent discovery isn’t the only use case, DCP executives say. While the FILM cryptocurrency cannot currently be used outside of the site, Musante said the company is in talks with film production suppliers to authorize them to purchase various production items — enabling users to fund at least in part with the cryptocurrency earned their movies. website.

Coppola had a bigger idea. He asked if the entire system could be deployed to target talent in new ways. Now, producers who want to find location-specific or highly specialized performers must work through a network of agents that are expensive and not always accurate.

“But what if you could use web3 to do this?” he said. “Whether it’s minting, development, location, or anything in our industry as a whole, cryptocurrencies and blockchain will allow us to find more of what we need and do business better than ever before.”

Still, crypto skeptics say it offers a solution to a problem no one has asked.

“For almost any community, the question is what can be done with cryptocurrency and Web 3 that you can’t do with just ordinary money and the web we have,” said David Gerrard, commentator and author of the book The Crypto Doubt. 50-foot blockchain attack. “

A talent representative contacted by the Post, who asked not to be named, added that they are concerned that the changes may not benefit the best storytellers, but those who understand how to work and even manipulate encryption-based systems.

But Smith, the pioneering independent filmmaker behind hits like “The Staff” and “Chasing Amy,” is releasing his new films as NFTs, and he says he now sees these tools as necessary, much like movie theaters or Home video is the same for the previous generation.

He said: “If you’re an established independent filmmaker, you can go to streaming platforms like Netflix or HBO Max. But where are the emerging filmmakers going? Where are the small-budget producers? NFTs, there’s a hungry community already here.” He said he now sees the speculative bubble in cryptocurrencies as similar to the dot-com bubble around the internet 20 years ago: a bubble that doesn’t ultimately hinder potential innovation.

While waiting to see if he’ll get a DCP grant, Quinn said he already feels like he’s winning, no matter which way it goes.

“I come from a working-class family with no commercial connections,” said Quinn, who studied screenwriting but worked for years at a local dairy in his 20s. “Just having a platform to showcase my work felt like a real turning point.”



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