NFT & Blockchain - New Ways to Raise Film Financing and Make Movies

By Paula Landry • July 20, 2021

With Emmy-Winning Producer Cindy Cowan

Cindy Cowan is an award-winning producer, entrepreneur and songwriter whose career spans movies, television, music and now tech via her new venture into Mogul Productions. Her new company utilizes NFT and Defi in the film finance and filmmaking space. From her recent Emmy win for the wonderful documentary Miracle on 42nd Street to multiple nominations ranging from OscarTM, Emmy, Golden Globe, People’s Choice and the United Nations award, Cindy has founded successful media projects and companies and is always looking to do more, reach further, and get ahead of the curve.

The curve in entertainment and the financial industries right now if you’ve noticed, is experimenting with blockchain technology. Bitcoin, Dogecoin and NFTs exist due to the underlying tech of blockchain.

Meet Super-Producer Cindy Cowan 

Building on past success and breaking new ground, multi-hyphenate Cindy Cowan is developing multiple projects, movies in genres like comedies and thrillers, is also involved in episodic television and is a very active philanthropist.

Cindy Cowan: Hair, makeup and picture by Troy Jensen, reprinted with Permission from Cowan Entertainment

An experienced producer, she selects material story-first, then gauges what the markets need and what she personally would be interested in watching. The hits from Cowan Entertainment and Cindy’s earlier company IEG are impressive, but she seeks to be continually challenged and sees this technology as promising. What is exciting about her new foray with Mogul Productions into the blockchain, NFT & Defi space combines several things: empowerment for investors, transparency for filmmakers, and engagement with fans throughout the movie making process. Mogul Productions disrupts a traditional model of film finance and filmmaking, in an effort to fix some things that were unfair in the first place.

Last year was difficult by any stretch of the imagination, but Hollywood is coming back stronger than ever and there’s more need for content. However, it’s even harder for smaller players to finance projects and secure distribution, so it is vital that creators get engaged with their fans throughout the process. Mogul has a model that lends itself to direct participation between filmmakers and audiences.

One thing Covid has taught us all is that we have to learn to adapt, and throughout the pandemic, Cindy forged ahead in what promises to be the future of filmmaking and financing right now, NFTs and blockchain, with her new venture.

[The Business Of Film - Essential Concepts of Film Financing]

What is NFT & Defi?

NFT & Defi are new technologies, and with film finance, they provide transparency and accountability never seen before. The phrase ‘Hollywood Accounting’ has always been negative, actual investors and filmmakers couldn’t really see what was happening with movies, and the financial returns. Cindy made the point that “You go in knowing you’re likely to get ripped off” but equity players – the folks who trusted filmmakers with their money, and invest in the projects and believe in them – should always be respected, treated well and be informed along the way.

NFT Marco Verch CC BY 2.0 

In Cindy’s view, working with Mogul – in the NFT and Defi space offer many benefits related to that. The overarching idea is more things of value exchanged with transparency, security, privacy and peer-to-peer interaction. So blockchain, NFT and Defi can improve the financing process but also benefit overall filmmaking in several different ways. So, here’s the quick shorthand of some of the words we’re hearing all the time:

Terminology

  • NFT – Non Fungible Token (a unique digital asset)
  • Defi – Decentralized finance is a blockchain-based form of finance that is designed to remove intermediaries between transacting parties. The idea is transactions with transparency, accountability and security
  • Decentralized – no middle person
  • Blockchain – the system of technology on which all this stuff runs (NFTs, Defi, Ethereum) to increase the efficiency of transactions using a decentralized system, that anyone can view and verify utilizing a chain of recordkeeping in order to transfer digital items of value. The chain can’t be tampered with or changed – so you can’t go back and fudge with the numbers
  • Ethereum – uses of the blockchain technology with more varied functionality, and is the basis for most blockchain media-related ventures in this space, like Mogul Productions and the art NFTs you’re hearing about
  • DeFiFi – · Decentralized film finance designed to make film financing more transparent

A model of film financing, with fair investor and producer repayment, could become a game changer. This aspect of the film business is something that has needed an overhaul for a long time.

Film Finance Makeover

The lack of transparency has been the norm in the entertainment industry for so long that it’s not funny. Many would-be investors have been turned off for that very notion, and it doesn’t make any sense. Why wouldn’t you treat the people who made the dream possible in the first place, with the utmost reverence they deserve? That was one of the key incentives that encouraged Cindy Cowan to become involved with a blockchain-based decentralized finance model in movies. 

Blockchain_Illustration_2 Davidstankiewicz

The idea is that investors, from big to small, know what’s going on with the project they funded and that they get the same fair chance to be repaid as other investors. One of the promises of blockchain is verification of transactions and transparency, so investors can ascertain what’s going on with money in regards to their investment and its repayment. In film finance, first investors might get paid last, or never paid. But now we can verify it. Because with Defi – you can’t fudge. And funders see all the transactions for the film, even the little guy. 

[Scheduling and Budgeting Film and TV For Beginners]

Mogul Productions and the Future

The film financing is one key thing, but it’s not the only positive incorporating blockchain for filmmaking. Cindy joined Mogul to embrace the disruptive possibilities of the transparency of copyright verification in this technology, movie investors being treated fairly and audience involvement during the movie making process.

Reprinted with Permission from Mogul Productions

When fans have a voice in a movie as it’s being made – it gets better and more exciting. At Mogul, they can influence the story, change the look, get involved in the process. Come along for the entire ride. Cowan reflects on the film Deadpool, where creators had tried to make it for years but the project met a dead-end. The idea of an ultra-violent, R-rated superhero movie starring a character most moviegoers had never heard of just wasn't a strong sell. But when the script leaked online and test footage leaked, fans went nuts and sprang into action. Fans wrote online petitions, sharing viral videos that helped the studio see that yes the movie must be made. That level of fan devotion and personal engagement is what, ultimately could bring fans inside the process.

[Business Of Film: What Is Distribution?]

Cindy then pushes it further along – “Wouldn’t it be great if fans were engaged in all kinds of other aspects of filmmaking?” They could get involved in costumes, character design, story, plot outcomes, even appearing in the film. These are all ideas at play inside the new company as the company uses tokens as a currency inside the app (STARS) for fans to vote and participate in key decisions that will influence the production. In this sense, the fans are producers themselves, voting on what gets greenlit, and even profit sharing. 

For screenwriters who would love to see their movie end up at Mogul, check out the platform to see what the projects are like and how to get involved. There are a variety of genres, topics and stories, the budgets are $5 million and under which is an interesting space for a contained film with limited locations – you can really do a great indie. 

Thanks to Cindy for sharing her time, expertise and latest adventure with Mogul Productions, blockchain, Defi, NFTs and the future of film!


Learn more about the craft and business of screenwriting from our Script University courses!

MUST READ

DON’T MISS THESE CONTESTS

SUBMIT TO WRITING GIGS

THIS MONTH’S EVENTS