Film Funding on the Blockchain – What Awaits Us?
There are remarkable events that shape our lives. Some are uplifting, some devastating. Some are anticipated, some aren’t. Some happen in the blink of an eye, yet others drag on interminably. Some affect just our personal lives and yet there are others that can change the world as we know it.
There was just such an event in 1997. Isolated at first, but in a few years, it was to become a tsunamic event. A technological achievement that would open the door to a world that, up until then, was the private enclave of only the establishment, the intellectual elite, or those with a technological proclivity. That private playground was the ‘internet’ and the door opener was the launch of the browser - ‘Internet Explorer’. Suddenly it was easy for everyone to access the web and doing so has changed the world in ways we never dreamed possible.
Well, there’s now a new advanced technological event emerging. Some say it’s the new internet. But whether it is, or it isn’t, it’s out there and it is developing quickly.
As in the first throes of the Internet, this movement too has its early adopters. However, this time it’s the anti-establishment outsiders - libertarians, technologically literate rebels, and savvy software developers doing battle with the establishment to create opportunities through which they look to make their fortune, but at the same time to move the world forward into a restructuring of power and wealth.
This new technology is “blockchain”. It’s a promising technology where one side – the centralized blockchain - is now being explored, tested, and slowly but surely ‘adopted’ by the establishment - companies, organizations, institutions, and governments. It’s still in its infancy but its day is just beyond the horizon.
To help bring the centralized blockchain into perspective, initially, thousands, then tens of thousands, then hundreds of thousands of companies, associations, institutions, governments, etc., will be building apps for everyday transactions and interactions on ‘centralized blockchains’ in verticals as widely different as supply chain management, banking, gaming, social media, security, education, currency, business enterprise, health, medicine, real estate, investments, human resources, contracts, law and many more. But why? Well, the short answer is they won’t have a choice. Blockchain is the future.
So why is it the future? Well, simply put by Don and Alex Tapscott in their 2016 book, the “Blockchain Revolution”…
“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.” - the keyword in this quote being ‘incorruptible’ meaning not hackable.
So, where did the blockchain originate? Blockgeeks, in a digital release last updated 13 September 2018 said…
“The blockchain is an undeniably ingenious invention – the brainchild of a person or group of people known by the pseudonym, Satoshi Nakamoto”.
“By allowing digital information to be distributed but not copied, blockchain technology created the backbone of a new type of internet. Originally devised for the digital currency Bitcoin, the tech community is now finding other potential uses for the technology.” (https://blockgeeks.com/guides/what-is-blockchain-technology/)
Promising? Yes. However, not all blockchains are created equal. Each blockchain platform can have its own unique properties and can be designed for a special interest. Blockchains owned by individuals or corporations are centralized blockchains. But there are also decentralized blockchains designed to host many different Dapps (applications on a blockchain) and are not owned by anyone. The most prominent is the decentralized Bitcoin blockchain (although Bitcoin can host Dapps, it’s not particularly practical for several reasons). Others are Bitshares, EOS, Ethereum, and TELOS, a hardfork (a splitting off) from the EOS blockchain - just a few of the hundreds now in the crypto-currency world.
But there was one decentralized blockchain that was proving to be resilient, fast, and was battle-tested as well – Steem – a hybrid if you will. It was a ‘decentralized social media’ blockchain that was designed to foster the ‘growth of communities’ and to reward users with currency for sharing original content. The Steem blockchain also supported social media Dapps like busy.org, eSteem, SteemConnect, Steemit.com, and more. All used the token – STEEM – as a reward currency for posting original content, upvoting original content, curating and commenting on content, a currency that is convertible into USD.
The key to the success of the Steem blockchain was its decentralization and focus on communities. However, like all things with exponential value possibilities the Steem blockchain became the target of a takeover by a prominent blockchain player – Tron’s CEO Justin Sun – an attempt to own and /or control Steem. However, once again Steem showed its resiliency. The Steem Witnesses (21 men and women elected by the Steem members) would have none of it. The Witnesses are dedicated to maintaining the Steem’s decentralized integrity. Therefore, after unsuccessful discussions with Mr. Sun, the Witnesses hardforked (split off) a new blockchain – HIVE. HIVE is simply a new iteration of Steem that automatically includes all Steem members, Steem members’ earnings, and Steem members’ history – a complete and perfect metamorphosis to HIVE.
The evolution of Steem to HIVE is a first in blockchain history and a poignant example of the resiliency and dogged determination of this new but historic decentralized social media blockchain.
The potential for blockchains like HIVE is unlimited. Its promise in the arts and the humanities is only restricted by one’s vision. Imagine rewarding a young girl in Sudan for reading Aldous Huxley’s, ‘Brave New World’, or a young boy in Indonesia for running his first marathon. What’s even more exciting is the reward you give is not from your pocket but from the currency you’ve earned on the blockchain for your posting of original content, upvoting of others' original content, curating, and commenting.
Like Steem, HIVE, the decentralized social media blockchain, is self-funding and maintaining it and the algorithms driving it, is the responsibility of the twenty-one (21) Witnesses (block producers) who exercise their responsibility based on consensus.
Conceptually, the consensus algorithm adopted by Steem is similar to the consensus algorithm adopted by companies throughout the world. People with a vested interest in the future value of Steem vote to select individuals responsible for including testimony in the public record. Voting is weighted proportional to each individual's vested interest. The Steem Whitepaper 2018.
No one person owns the HIVE social media blockchain. It was set in motion by Steem using algorithms based on ‘Proof of Brain’…
Token systems that reward users as they contribute to a token-based community system require mechanisms for establishing and evaluating content’s social value: we call this “Proof-of-Brain.” The Steem Blue Paper 2017.
I guess all of this can be somewhat confusing. But it’s just like learning to drive. All you really need to know is what to do when sitting behind the steering wheel.
In my opinion, HIVE, the decentralized social media blockchain, will have as profound an impact today for filmmakers as did the advance to digital in its day. One exciting possibility is the opportunity for filmmakers to break through the ‘film funding’ roadblock simply by sharing (posting as you do on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube) personal and/or a project’s original content on the blockchain to receive upvotes and curation rewards in the token HIVE (cryptocurrency).
This is not wishful thinking. It’s been done – history was made. “The Order of Things to Come” is a short dramatic film released at a private screening in Krakow Poland, November 8, 2018. It is the ‘first film ever fully funded with rewards earned on the blockchain’. The budget was $9,000.00 USD.
And now ‘The Order of Things to Come’ short film is in its second phase - marketing. The film was entered into Film Festivals first in Canada throughout 2019 and is still earning HIVE rewards to fully fund its entire Film Festival campaign. The US campaign is scheduled for 2020.
HIVE, and yet to be developed social media blockchains, offer a new opportunity to filmmakers. There will be variations and new chains to come based on HIVE’s success in the same way Facebook spawned Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, etc. But HIVE is now. Building your presence on HIVE will require persistence and dedication. However, that’s the challenge of being an early adopter.
‘Film on the Blockchain’ is gradually moving into the limelight. It’s real - a budding opportunity for those of us in the worldwide film community to leverage. Who knows, a little curiosity mixed with some patience and invention and you might find yourself in that five (5) percent of early adopters, that unique group, who always benefits most from the big leaps forward in information and technology breakthroughs.
Now you can’t say I didn’t give you a heads up!