Novel developments in technology have given rise to entirely new industries. One of the greatest examples of this is the film industry: The new possibilities presented by “moving pictures” ushered in a new medium of art, expression, and storytelling.
With the rise of blockchain technology, this century-old medium may see its most significant leap forward. Hoping to spearhead the coming evolution in the film and entertainment industries is actor David Bianchi. He has partnered with Gala Film to develop a series that could take the concept of audience participation to the next level.
Under Gala’s film division, Bianchi hopes to deliver a global experience that will make onboarding to Web3 a more compelling decision than ever. Working with Bianchi on this ambitious project are Emmy Award-Winning Filmmaker Steven Cantor and viral Animator Peter Draw. And if things go as planned, it might give us a meaningful glimpse into how NFTs could fundamentally change the way audiences engage with media.
Real-time development of entertainment
So what are Bianchi and the rest of his team cooking up? It’s called Razor — an eight-episode science fiction drama with shades of Black Mirror and Mr. Robot, “focused on the world of neural implants, code culture, and the underbelly of black market crime,” Bianchi told nft now in an interview. Although Razor’s subject matter might heavily feature dystopian imagery, everything surrounding it is heavily optimistic towards what could be our Web3-powered entertainment future.
As such, they’ve gone all-in on making this an exclusive experience for Web3 users only. Upon release, Razor won’t be on Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, or any other mainstream streaming service. It’s set to be a Gala Film exclusive, meaning the series is only going to exist on the Ethereum blockchain.
“We couldn’t be more excited to work with David and the Gala community to bring Web3’s first-ever live-action series exclusively to Gala Film,” said Gala COO Sarah Buxton, in a statement to nft now. “David and the team are so incredibly talented and committed as we are to delivering decentralized, fan-first entertainment. I can’t wait to see where this partnership will take not just us, but Web3 as a creative space, too.”
Although the series is still in development, Bianchi and the rest of the team are using NFTs to build up the series’ fanbase long before the show even airs. Dropping in late October, this NFT collection is set to include “a beautiful collection of concept posters, storyboards, and pre-visualizations and conceptual art,” Bianchi said.
Through the release of these pieces of art, Bianchi hopes to “engage the audience as early as possible [and bring them] into the filming process.” While behind-the-scenes footage isn’t anything new in the entertainment industry, it’s often released as a series airs — or as part of a box set release upon the conclusion of a season. But what is unheard of is releasing storyboards and concept art to the public while a series is still in development.
“There is so much art that is associated with producing cinema that most people never even come to grips with,” Bianchi said. He hopes to set a precedent in the entertainment industry by further unlocking the value of these concept visuals through the release of this collection. After all, aside from serving a crucial role in the production and development of a series, they’re also pieces of art.
Access via art
However, a question remains: why does the release of these pieces need to be via NFTs? Because of utility.
By selling these items as NFTs, Bianchi hopes to give the first fans of Razor essentially unlimited access to its ongoing development via the purchase of NFTs from this drop. “You’ll have access to the screenwriters, […] the producers, […and] eventually we will be offering IRL access to live table reads in Los Angeles,” he said. For any of Razor’s future community of die-hard fans, this is a huge deal.
It’s also worth noting that the access Bianchi hopes to provide includes Web3’s guiding principle of active participation and engagement. So, how is Razor going to deliver on this ideal? It’s all about access.
The audience’s access will go beyond simply seeing the ongoing development of Razor. They will also be able to directly engage with and influence it. “We really want to just take this one step at a time so we can figure out what models work. What do audiences respond to? What do they want to see? […] The audience is really going to be able to give the producers real-time feedback on narrative structures [and] on story arcs,” he said.
This has happened elsewhere, recently, with Netflix’s experimental use of NFTs to indirectly poll its audience for which episode of Love Death + Robots they liked the most. Should this model be adopted for projects outside Web3’s current purview, the general public will have a say on whether beloved IPs will face the same treatment that Star Wars, Game of Thrones, and The Hobbit suffered in the past decade.
Our augmented future
But all of this is just the face of the shape of things to come, as the entertainment industry undergoes another evolution. Other emerging technologies, like virtual and augmented reality (AR), may further converge with blockchain technology, providing mass audiences a new way to enter the larger Web3 metaverse.
Bianchi likened the eventual experience of consuming content to the world we saw in Minority Report — with holograms powering the interactivity of our future content. It might sound like far-fetched ramblings now but augmented reality tech has been progressing at an astounding rate. Following Google’s attempts at bringing AR to a mass market in the early 2010s with Google Glass, AR broke into the mainstream with 2016’s Pokémon Go.
Thanks to its massive global success, millions of people had their first experiences interacting with AR thanks to Niantic’s groundbreaking game. With Niantic officially opening up its Web3 division earlier in 2022, the onset of AR experiences in mainstream media — integrated with blockchain technology — may be years away, not decades.
“Rather than using a remote control, I’ll use my fingertips to swipe through and pause an episode. I could zoom in and look at what sneakers [the actor onscreen is] wearing, tap the sneaker, and purchase a digital version of that sneaker that will be immediately authenticated on the blockchain. The idea is that you can fundamentally interact with the episode or film content that you’re watching in real-time,” he said. Is the world ready? We can’t say for sure, but ready or not, the technology is on its way.