SCP-TBD, Draft Proposal – ShapeShift DAO Documentary Film Production

Summary

Create a feature-length documentary film on the topic of blockchain, specifically on the Shapeshift DAO/FOX and its uses and benefits. The completed movie will then be distributed through traditional film distribution networks.

Abstract

A professional film crew would be provided with funding to create a high-quality, informative, and entertaining documentary to inform the public about our DAO, its uses, benefits, and potential. In the vein of films like “Blackfish”, “Supersize Me”, and “An Inconvenient Truth”, the movie created will aim for a shift in societal understanding of blockchain technology and how it will shape our collective future.

Motivation

Most current Crypto documentaries focus on Bitcoin and alt-coins and how it has been a profitable investment opportunity for those who “got in” at the right time e.g. The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin (2014), Bitcoin: The End of Money as We Know It (2015), Banking on Bitcoin (2016), Magic Money: The Bitcoin Revolution (2017), Bit X Bit: In Bitcoin We Trust (2018), Cryptopia (2020), etc, etc. . This has contributed to a broad public misconception and misunderstanding of the purpose and value of decentralized currencies, blockchain, organizations etc. An informative and entertaining movie can go a long way in changing public opinion. Presented by means of an emotionally engaging story, the barrier to entry can be broken down and a widespread understanding of how blockchain technology (Shapeshift DAO/FOX) is shaping the future while fostering its growth and adoption for decades to come.

Specification

If this proposal is adopted, $465,000 will be allocated to CMM Digital (an experienced production company with many similar projects in its library) to create a feature-length documentary film and secure its distribution to as wide a market as possible. Its CEO Jeremiah Rounds has produced and/or directed dozens of projects (both for episodic television and film) and had them successfully distributed to audiences around the world. Over a period of approximately 13 months, the film will be crafted by a team of professionals, and then taken to market for distribution.

Film production takes place over three periods: preproduction (approximately 3 months), production (approximately 2 months), postproduction (approximately 8 months). During preproduction research is conducted, cast and crew are hired, equipment and insurance are secured, locations and travel accommodations are arranged, scriptwriting occurs, and the overall production is mapped out. During the production phase, that plan is carried out: the crew travels to record interviews and films any additional footage that is needed for the film. During postproduction, this footage is edited and assembled to create the final movie. Voiceovers may be recorded if necessary, graphics and animations are made to enhance the story, music is recorded or licensed for the soundtrack, color correction is applied to the footage, and a final master is created of the film.

After the documentary is completed, it goes to film markets and festivals, where sales agents and/or distributors are brought on to secure an outlet for the film to be viewed by as wide an audience as possible. Most of a film’s profits will be brought in over the first 3-7 years after its creation but can continue well beyond that time. 100% of the investor’s share of the profits will be paid out to Shapeshift during the lifetime of the film.

Benefits

The benefits to this project are two-fold:

  1. Evangelistic – the more the public can be informed about the nature of blockchain, DAO, and Shapeshift, the more widespread its adoption will become. Films have the unique power to sway public opinion in the form of societal shifts in paradigm. Think of how “Blackfish” led to a public outcry that effectively shut down Sea World’s captive orca breeding program, or how “Supersize Me” eliminated that option from McDonald’s menu.

  2. Financial – low budget (less than $3 million) documentaries with a built-in market are historically one of the most profitable genres of films. According to the American Film Market, they stand between horror, and religious films as the staples for low budget filmmaking and commonly bring in many times the cost of their budgets in income. This can be a profitable investment of funds that would otherwise stand idle.

Drawbacks

The only drawback would be that while the film is actually in production, the funds will not be generating any profit, nor creating much of an audience aside from press releases detailing the creation of the project. Additionally, the size of the audience and the income it will generate are unknown quantities and can shift depending on the market at the time of the film’s release. In the worst-case scenario, the film will not secure a major distributor, though it will still be available for public viewing through free outlets like YouTube. So, no matter what, it will be able to be shared and serve its purpose of informing the public and promoting blockchain adoption.

Vote

YES: $465,000 will be released from the DAO treasury to CMM Digital to fund the creation of this documentary.

NO: No funds will be released, and a documentary will not be produced.

4 Likes

I have a few concerns about this with the largest being the lack of ability to confirm/secure distribution deals. That and $465,000 being a large sum for any production that has no clearly defined distribution deal is a major risk that I am not willing to take as a voter.

Thank you very much for writing this proposal to the community.

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Thank you for your comment and post, I will Let Jeremiah chime in on this one… but, if I am not mistaken he has those details and good connections to distributors. As questions come we will be glad to address these detailed aspects. I personally hold a good stake in FOX holdings and am die-hard when it comes to promoting our DAO and happenings. I will let him know about your inquiry ASAP.

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Thank you for bringing this up, and voicing a concern that I’m sure many will share!

It’s a totally valid concern, and one I’ve had to address many times. The short answer is that any half decent completed film (and even critically panned movies like the Sharknado series) will have an audience. An audience means money, and the potential for money is what attracts sales agents and distributors. The offers we get will depend on the amount of money they believe they can pull in based on their networks of distribution, and the amount of perceived “seats” they can fill based on the nature of the film. So, worldwide distribution is not necessarily the problem. I mean, technically YouTube is a global distribution network, and any one of us can put up a video that can be shared by viewers worldwide. But how much effort (ie. money) a distributor is willing to spend on marketing, in order to chase that audience, will be directly proportional to the amount they feel they will gain based on the film itself -and that’s difficult to gauge without a completed film.

The documentary I produced most recently is probably a good case study for what our journey for this film may look like. So I will follow this post with a longer explanation of that process, what it entails, and what the potential outcomes can look like. Hopefully that will more adequately address your concerns.

However, I must apologize in advance, as it will by necessity be a lengthy read :slightly_smiling_face:

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I think it’s quite early for the dao to consider something like this. maybe in a number of years after we have had a chance to really bloom would this be a cool idea. the other big problem is that there are no offices, so where would the filming be done? In people’s homes? I feel like that is a big ask of people.

I think for right now I am a no-vote on this and would revisit it down the road in a few years.

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Good question! Although interviews on site are common, sometimes the facility is not “pretty” enough (or doesn’t exist, as may be the case). In those instances, we typically rent facilities for interviews, film them in public spaces (with all necessary permits), or build a set. I have done “green screen” interviews, as well, but that’s usually a last resort as they rarely look as good as just filming in an appropriate location, and it does add a fair bit of time and cost to post production.

As far as DAO being somewhat in its infancy, introducing the concepts to people who have never heard of it, the ideals behind it, and its potential for the future may be more interesting and inspiring than a “history lesson” type of film made after the fact. There is often a larger audience seeking to be inspired by new ideas and interesting characters, then there is for a history lesson about something they don’t already hold a vested interest in.

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When it comes to documentaries (and, to some extent, narrative films as well) there are only two practical ways to get an advance distribution deal.

The first is to hire a big enough “name” that just putting their face on the poster will guarantee an audience. If we hire Ryan Reynolds, Robert Pattinson, or someone else with equally bankable “star power” we could get a distribution deal within 48 hours, no problem. Unfortunately, that would add several million (or tens of millions of) dollars to the budget, to pay them for their appearance -with the production budget remaining otherwise largely the same. And it still doesn’t guarantee that the film will be profitable.

The other way is to have the rights to a subject matter or story that already has a well-established, and certifiably broad, audience. If we had access to an entire album of recorded but unreleased Beatles music, along with footage of the recording process filmed at the time, we would again have no issue with an advance deal. However, the film we are setting out to make does not yet have that kind of built-in market. Although, building a larger audience is indeed one of the goals for the film.

So how do smaller documentaries get distribution deals before they are completed? Frankly, they don’t . At best, a letter of intent (LOI) to distribute the film can be obtained, but it’s essentially just a piece of paper (or a PDF, nowadays) that says, “If this film is completed at a high enough standard, and the market at the time of its completion will support its wide release, we agree to attempt to distribute it under these terms, and at this estimated expense. If we are still interested at the time.” This can be enough to get a film financed, but usually only if at least a B-List name is attached, and/or some form of tax incentive is also on the table. More often, I’ve been told, “We love the concept and we’d be happy to take a look and give you an offer once we see the completed film.”

And, if you think about it, this an entirely fair way for a distributor or sales agent to conduct their business. Without seeing the final product, they have no way of gauging what the final product is which they will be committing significant time, energy, and money to attempt to sell. The only (somewhat) sure bet is the past. That’s why they look for things that were already profitable made by people who have already proven themselves to be profitable. This is the precise reason why you see so many remakes and sequels. There isn’t a lack of fresh original ideas in Hollywood, there simply no way to predict the success of an original story. And that’s why the solution is usually to attach an actor that has an audience already willing to pay to see anything they appear in. Hence, “stars” demand high paychecks.

So, a pre-sales agreement is pretty much off the table (unless somebody has a famous friend or relative they’d like to connect to the project). What other options are there for a low budget independent (ie. not produced by one of the major studios) documentary? In terms of gaining an audience, and earning a profit once the film is finished, there are several paths that can be pursued either separately or concurrently. Though there are other methods, these are three primary methods of gaining an audience (and their money) that I will be addressing, which we have (to varying degrees) successfully utilized in the past:

  • Self-Distribution
  • Film Festivals
  • Film Markets

I will be working backwards from most difficult (in terms of time/energy investment) to easiest (though potentially most expensive). The method that we actually utilized for my latest documentary is the last method that I will describe. This may seem counter intuitive (especially because it is the method we usually try first), but the most difficult method is also the path that will be trod if all other methods fail first, so I feel it is beneficial to explore the “worst case scenario” at the start, to show that it is still a viable option.

I’m not at liberty to discuss the exact details of our latest film, since there are NDAs in place prior to release, but I will speak in broad strokes so you can get a feel for the process and what it can look like. Hopefully this will also put your minds more at ease as to the degree of “predictable” success we can expect with the project we are proposing.

You can expect these posts later in the day, as I have prior commitments to attend to right now. But please keep the questions coming, and I will do my best to address all your concerns. Thanks!

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Self-distribution

As the name implies, the movie only goes where we take it. All marketing and publicity is done in house. This can mean booking local theaters and passing out flyers during relevant local synergistic events (like conferences and conventions). Or joining online forums and groups that have similar interests, buying ads on social media, or guest appearing on podcasts that cater to the crypto crowd, booking local news appearances, etc. It’s building a website and getting physical copies to sell in person, and it’s eventually uploading the film to a streaming platform and monetizing it. It takes a lot more time and energy to make money this way, but it has been done. The bonus is that there are no “middle men” to share our profits with.

Film Festivals

This is probably a familiar idea. Ideally, we submit the completed film to festivals, it screens, wins awards, distributors bid against each other to buy the rights to the film and everyone lives happily ever after. That’s the fairy tale dream, and it does happen, but it’s extremely unlikely -for a number of reasons. Not all festivals even accept documentaries, for starters. Also, the “bidding war” scenario really only happens for exceptional films at the most prestigious of the festivals (there are less than a dozen “top tier” festivals). Remember that festivals exist to make money as well, and even if they think it is an excellent film, if it doesn’t fit with that year’s “theme” or they can’t find enough thematically suitable films to play alongside it, the film may be rejected. OR, the particular unpaid volunteer screener assigned to watch your submission just may not resonate with the topic, so it can get denied at the first stage before any executive even sees it. A film like this is more likely to do well at niche festivals, such as documentary specific festivals, but it’s worth starting at the top level festivals first then working our way down, as the more prestigious the festival, the more beneficial it is to screen there: “Official Selection” at Sundance holds more weight than “First Place” at Todd’s Down South BBQ Hoedown and Film Fest.

Film Markets

Film festivals primarily serve as a way for audiences and critics to appreciate new films and give them due accolades. Film markets are where the motion picture industry buys and sells the rights to distribute movies. There are three major film markets held around the world each year. These are the European Film Market held in Berlin in February, the Marché du Film at the Cannes Film Festival in May, and the American Film Market in Santa Monica, CA in November. Thousands of buyers attend, and it is the easiest way to get your film in front of the actual decision makers who can give you offers in writing. It can be expensive with travel, promotional materials, and screening copies. In my experience this is by far the easiest route.

Managing Expectations

Each film that we’ve completed has secured distribution either directly from meetings at a film market, or later through contacts that were made at a film market. Because of past years’ attendance, and finding buyers for our films, I now have a solid collection of sales agents and distributors that I can contact directly when I have a film in need of distribution. Most of them only work within a specific set of genres and budget ranges, ie. “sci-fi, horror, and fantasy films with budgets over $3 million” or “family friendly narrative features and documentaries with budgets under $1 million”. Everyone has an area of expertise and knows what they can sell and who they can sell it to.

Realistically, we can expect to find either a sales agent who will take our film to individual distributors worldwide, or a set of distributors who will be interested in putting the film out in their specific territories. The only unknown factor is what specific dollar amounts we can expect from those deals, and what terms, conditions and timelines will be put forward. In my experience there is an audience for every film, unless it is made in a technically deficient manner (inaudible sound, blurry focus, etc.). Thus, there is also always a distributor willing to sign a deal to get a share of that audience’s money. The size of the perceived market determines the nature of the offer.

And that brings us to the part that hopefully answers the unstated question that probably weighs on the mind of everyone considering this proposal: how are we going to make money off of this, how much, and when?

Documentaries are not top sellers at markets right now. They are difficult to put into theaters, especially after Covid, because theater owners want to fill as many seats as possible since they’ve been so empty for so long. The safe bet for that? Movies with people wearing capes. That’s what currently rules the box office, and that’s what “puts the butts in the seats”, so interest in anything but explosions and spaceships is at an all time low in theaters. Most distributors will still push for a limited theatrical release (a weeklong run in a few theaters in New York and LA) as it still helps with getting a better deal than movies with the “direct to video” label. So, a little bit of money might come in from theater ticket sales.

Then, there the streaming platforms. Netflix and Amazon don’t typically buy documentaries anymore. They both have their own film production arms, so if they want a documentary on a topic they just film it themselves. But there are a plethora of other streaming providers, and we shouldn’t have a hard time finding a fit for this film. Additional avenues for profit come from sales of digital copies and physical DVD/Blu-rays, rentals, traditional television, and airline in flight movies. The period of time when movies make most of their money is in the first 3-7 years. In that time, we shouldn’t have trouble breaking even and even making a small profit. We’re not talking millions, in fact we’re not even likely talking hundreds of thousands. But some money is better than no money.

So, if profit is the central motivation, a documentary isn’t really the best option. A safer way to make money from filmmaking is to talk to distributors first, find out what they are making the most money from, and then buy a decent script in that genre and make it. That’s still a risk because a single film may or may not resonate with the public during its release, regardless of how good it is. The safest bet is what the studios do. Make ten movies knowing that most will make a small profit, one or two will completely bomb, and one or two will make a big profit. If ROI is the sole motivator, I would propose a $30 million investment into a slate of ten 3 million dollar films to be completed over five years. $3 million is still considered a low budget film, but it’s enough to hire at least one name actor for each film, which when combined with tax credits, and minimum guarantees (from those distributors we talked to before deciding which movies we should make), it becomes closer to a portfolio investment type of situation. Not all the eggs in one basket, with statistics on our side.

However, if profit is not the only motivating factor, a documentary like this can still be a very worthwhile endeavor. The main thing generally lacking in cryptocurrencies is widespread adoption. People don’t get it, they aren’t excited about it, and they are reluctant to put their money into things that don’t make sense to them. I’ve met loads of people that are blockchain curious -but nowhere near ready to dive in. That’s where a documentary can really help. As was mentioned in the proposal, film is a uniquely qualified modifier of humanity -as a collective. Individuals are affected as well, of course. But the power of a good movie to change the way an entire society looks at an issue is unparalleled in any other medium.

If we can tell a compelling story, we can foster a greater understanding at an emotional level and begin to see the benefits of wider utilization as a cultural construct. When blockchain is as easy and accepted as PayPal, everyone benefits. And that kind of normalizing is much easier to begin when it’s presented in an entertaining and easily accessible package. The paradigm shift happens when adoption is simply a side effect of enjoying a good story well told.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and feel free to ask more questions :grinning:

4 Likes

I’m thinking revisiting something like this down the road as @PTT is saying is where I am as a voter with it. With that being said I would love to hear further community feedback. Thank you for taking the time to post this proposal and reply in such an in-depth manner.

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I would vote against this as well. The primary reason is that the documentary would lack integrity. A documentary about a company (or DAO in this case) thats production is paid for by said company isn’t really a documentary, but rather an infomercial.

A great story should sell itself, where production companies pay the story tellers, not the other way around.

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Thank you for your comment. Indeed, a company (ShapeShift) we (Jeremiah and myself) both hold a stake in. Yes, this film would act as a promotional tool and outreach project aimed to bring societal awareness, as well as increase our active participants and users. We (jeremiah and myself) are users, holders of FOX, and Liquidity providers, we just happen to make documentary films for a living too. We have tons of love and a vested interest in this DAO particularly. There is a good reason for that, we believe in it plain and simple. We want to use our expertise to do what we can to help. Shapeshift needs web design, print design, graphics, promotional material, information-based videos, etc, etc. In a way ShapeShift for all intents and purposes is a production company, it produces services, content, applications, innovations, hope, etc. It is not unheard of that a company self-produces a documentary capturing its past, present, and voyange into the future. This is a very exciting time for decentralization, self-ownership, and financial sovereignty. Shapeshift is making bold moves based on the principles of freedom and liberty. It is showing the few of us who are paying attention that it is possible to change the way we run companies and do business. The ShapeShift experiment and path needs to be documented in my opinion. A documentary simply documents people and events as they happen, mainly to shed light on what most people do not see happening. I want to change that. What you all are doing here is historically relevant, and I know most of you here know this because you are here with us right now making it happen.

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Thank you, I think that’s an important issue to be addressed. I’d say it only lacks integrity if you are trying to hide the facts. My assumption is that we would be very open about the fact that it is the first film financed entirely by a DAO. That’s something to be proud of, and I think it fits the message that DAOs can do things that don’t happen by other more traditional means. The idea is not to be a commercial, but to inform people about the history and innovation behind DAO, the reasons they exist, and their potential to change the way humanity functions. These times are unprecedented in human history, and I really don’t feel anybody has begun to touch the subject in a way that can inspire people across a broad and diverse background.

The idea is not to sell FOX per say, the idea is to sell humanity on the idea that we don’t need rulers to create our companies, culture, or currency, that DAOs are a path to individual freedom, and to explore what a future looks like where a CEO doesn’t chart the path for the people who are doing all the work. Open source is the future, and I see no reason to shy away from the fact that a group of people voted to create something, without needing permission from any gatekeepers.

Integrity is being 100% open about how the documentary you are watching was funded and exploring how something like that is even possible. That is a fascinating concept to me, and I would not feel like I was watching an infomercial if the opening statement was something like: “This film was funded entirely by a group of people that have never met each other, with no oversight, permission, or centralized leader.” FOX will be mentioned of course, but the focus would be to get people to understand the overall concept of blockchain, to get people excited about DAOs in general, not any specific one singled out above all others.

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Thank you @neillien for reaching out.

First of all, I want to say that the current proposal format is not suitable to handle this kind of pitch, I would suggest either Marketing or Growth & Globalization propose either a new proposal format for Governance or a pitch page on their respective workstream. The format should focus on the storyline.

Having said that currently, I don’t see a storyline that I would personally watch apart from the brave decision to dissolve ShapeShift into a DAO and the history behind it. Based on that storyline I foresee that to make a documentary they would be a few other stakeholders besides ShapeShift DAO and as such be funded together with them.

I would suggest that ShapeShift DAO be the founding member of a new documentary DAO with its own token that would be sold on ShapeShift platform focusing on creating a DAO documentary. I think that would be a good way to kill two birds with one stone, increasing demand for FOX and having a documentary about ShapeShift DAO.

But as a fellow proposal pitcher, I admire the effort but maybe like my own proposal it is too early for everyone to see its true value going forward.

Best of luck and thank you for the proposal.

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Thank you for that insight @mareo!

I think it was a bit of a struggle to decide where to propose this, as it is a format that hasn’t really been discussed before. It doesn’t seem to fit squarely in any of the current boxes.

The idea of a filmmaking DAO is very intriguing to me, not just for this documentary, but for other projects as well…

Imagine something like a “DAO Film Studio” where members could pitch projects, vote on which get made, and share in the profits. That’s definitely food for thought…

Thanks again for your response!

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Also, I think an appropriate title for the documentary could be something like “The Tao of DAO” -maybe too esoteric, but accurate to the message.

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Yes I totally agree with you it is a struggle to pitch a proposal but it is good for the DAO to have this conversation and improve the proposal process and widen the scope of proposal to be discuss.

I imagine the “DAO Film Studio” would be holding a lot of project token that could have saved a lot of my favorite TV Show haha.

I hope it will become a reality and “The Tao of DAO” will be a legend in the film industry.

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You two are on fire! Keep it going. This is golden. I had a feeling the real ideas would come from this draft. We are on the edge of something great here.

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In general I like the idea of a documentary focusing on the ShapeShift DAO and a broader view of how DAOs are changing the work and human coordination economies themselves.

That being said, I think the cost initially proposed is simply too high at this time to make sense for the DAO, if there was a way to bring that cost down considerably (at least to start), or an alternative way to fund this, then I would be more apt to want to vote something like this forward.

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This is a pretty typical budget for the type of documentary we are trying to film. The doc we just completed had a comparable budget, and it is being distributed internationally. Keep in mind, this is over a year’s worth of work for a team of professionals, equipment rental, travel, insurance, legal fees, graphics, animations, archival footage, etc. The budget is certainly available for review prior to funding though, and can be part of the official proposal, should this reach that stage.

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Thank you for this proposal @neillien @JRo and your detailed responses to each question.

Personally I love the idea of a DAOcumentary, and not just because I want to watch it myself :grin: As you mentioned, this is the definition of history in the making. The story of DAOs is incredibly fascinating, yet most of the world has no idea. Society is hungry for content, but are few films on cryptocurrency and none focused on DAOs. I think you make a great case for how powerful films are as a medium for telling stories and shifting public opinion.

I believe ShapeShift and DAOs will have a significant global impact, and the story of our journey as well as the magic of DAOs is something that should be documented imo. The fact that we can potentially generate a profit on this film while also spreading the story of ShapeShift and DAOs to millions makes this very compelling to me.

I also think that the ideal documentary on DAOs would include stories and perspectives from a small handful of DAOs, not just ShapeShift. This could also be a great way to share the up-front costs necessary to produce a high quality documentary. If we partnered with 2 other DAOs for this, the cost would only be $155,000, but I think we would have a better chance of turning a profit and getting more eyes.

In a perfect world, this video goes viral and trends on Netflix. In a more realistic world, ShapeShift and DAOs proliferate over the coming years, and this documentary becomes known as the documentary that best depicts this turning point in history.

I don’t have any famous relatives, but I think we’d have a good chance of getting some star power from folks like 3LAU, Andrew Yang, and at the very least @Beorn :grin:

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