It's Time for the Movies, the Blockchain Way!
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The Dharamshala International Film Festival concluded recently and it had an eclectic collection of some of the most refreshing work being produced all over the world and in India. From Devashish Makhija’s Bhonsle to the absolutely crazy,” Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Ja Riya Hoon” by Anamika Haksar, it was a great celebration of innovative filmmaking in the mountains. However, one could hear a constant refrain among the participants about how one could really spread the growing film-enthusiastic community across the country rather than being restricted to a few pockets in some states.
Around the World in a Few Minutes-Social Networks and the Shrinking Content Engagement Cycles
While such a utopian vision has always united filmmakers and cinema-lovers alike, with modern technology, it can become a tangible reality. Just log into any of the social media platforms and you will find a plethora of fresh content from different genres, segregated according to your tastes and validated by your peer group. The advent of social media has helped any creation to go viral instantly, reaching millions across the world, a feat not imaginable earlier. However, its major contribution lies in augmenting the role of the community in determining the success or failure of content. Through instant interactive options such as like/share/subscribe, social media technology has enabled creators to engage with the consumers instantly, and gauge their response as well. However, social media distribution has still not been able to solve the classic entertainment industry problem-guarantee a transparent and fair allocation of revenue for the creators.
The archaic systems that have served the vibrant entertainment industry over the years are at a crossroads today and are probably past their best by date! The industry has woken up and is battling a legion of issues; numerous intermediaries, piracy, a lack of transparency, inadequate protection against violation of intellectual property rights, involvement of black money and a lengthy process of final settlement of funds. The flow of information is not credible nor timely leading to distortions on the real value of work. Additionally, it presents an unclear understanding of the potential market for the content, damaging its funding prospects. This leads to stifling of innovative thought within the industry in the longer run. A fresh infusion of alternate tech-driven operational structures, driven by new age solutions such as Data Analytics, Machine Learning and most importantly, blockchain is urgently needed to ensure seamless functioning of one of the most revenue-generating industries of the country.
The Next step-Blockchain and the Creation of a Self-reliant, Holistic Entertainment Ecosystem
In fact, Hollywood, that big brother Bollywood looks up to for everything, has already started using blockchain, the technology behind bitcoin to distribute movies that experts suggest is the beginning of the end for piracy. Recently, No Postage Necessary, an indie comedy about a luckless hacker, was distributed via a highly advanced peer-to-peer video network. By turning blockchain into a film distribution channel, the makers have signalled a shift in the way content is shared and consumed.
It is common knowledge that the indie community has always relied on each other’s support, and a dedicated, niche audience base, to bring truly masterful works of cinema to the fore. From the days of Ritwik Ghatak, the parallel cinema movement in the late 70s-80s to the experimental filmmakers of today, friends and enthusiasts have always chipped in to realize a cinematic vision. Technology such as blockchain fits right into this structure and gives it more scale, scope, security and transparency, and a future where the revenue from any creation goes to its rightful owners, i.e. the creators. It gives great content creators a chance to earn a higher amount of revenue from their work since the number of middlemen and in-between stakeholders is much less. The small, but the substantial success of crowdfunded films in India, starting with Shyam Benegal’s Manthan in 1976, shows that India has the necessary on-ground excitement required to make a tech-driven mass focused, blockchain based model a success in the entertainment domain.
Content by the People, for the People, of the People-Charting the Course to a Truly Democratic Entertainment World
With the implementation of the blockchain, cinema lovers from any region and from all walks of life can determine the true worth of a piece of content and pay a value that everyone agrees to. Furthermore, blockchain will allow consumers to be an integral and key part of the entertainment economy and not just the ‘market’ for content. Authentic attribution and immutability that is the backbone of blockchain will help shape the creative process and enable distribution to the micro-niches that would have been impossible to address with the current frameworks in play. Fans that support the creators will be in a position to drive the agenda and monetize their passion. The Industry will be able to unshackle itself from the ‘first-weekend’ albatross around its’ neck.
The model can also support free interaction and engagement among film industries of different countries, skipping the middlemen and comprising only of the creators and the consumers. Freeing the film community of the risk restrictions that come with large-scale budgets and the intense scrutiny, consumer-driven distribution models can support the development of truly edgy content that isn’t just created to generate revenue. The game will not be about numbers anymore, but quality too.
A blockchain based cine community is in effect a quintessential Bollywood film, with decentralized, people-centric, blockchain-based applications emerging as the hero against the villain of dominant, centralized players and middlemen. And like all Bollywood films, this bigger transformation to becoming a great cinematic nation is sure to end in a happy ending!