Blockchain in distribution

Blockchain offers new approaches for indie film distribution

The IFFR Pro panel on 25 January explored how blockchain technology can provide new and secure approaches to indie film distribution, VOD, rights and revenue management.

Panellists included renowned filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, who is also the mentor of India’s first-ever blockchain TVOD platform myNK (powered by MinersINC.) and the platform’s co-founder Deepak Jayaram. Jake Craven, VP of content partnerships of Breaker, the US-based blockchain studio (founded by SingularDTV) also joined the panel. The event was moderated by Wendy Bernfeld (Rights Stuff).

Taking both TVOD platforms as case studies, the event discussed the potential blockchain technology holds for changing the industry for filmmakers and right holders. From removing gatekeepers, to providing transparency, data insights and unprecedented access – the new technology can revamp distribution and revenue to empower filmmakers.

"We have some myths to dispel and experiences to share with regard to blockchain," began moderator Bernfeld, "from a technology, social and industry perspective." Giving the floor to the panellists, whose platforms – MyNK and – are both based on TVOD.

Anurag Kashyap explained how the limited access to diverse cinema in India sparked the blockchain-driven concept behind MyNK: developing technology to give makers a better relationship with their consumers. The platform enables you to see what people are watching where, and it turns out “there’s a massive appetite for cinema in India, beyond Hollywood and Bollywood." Kashyap’s premise: "piracy is driven by limited access, not the cost of films." Blockchain also helps you protect your movie. “Pirating movies requires access to all the 'blocks' containing, for example, dissected audio and visual files."

"We are reaching audiences that conventional marketing would not have let us access," explains co-founder Deepak Jayaram. The data is revealing unexpected discoveries about their audiences and their taste. Take, for example, Indian audience's interest in Dutch and Portuguese language films. The festival's own VOD service, IFFR Unleashed, was a test case for this. The streaming platform, recently integrated into our main website, provides filmmakers with a way to show their films to international audiences throughout the year 

The context of national markets marks a significant difference in the possibilities for VOD platforms. Jake Craven spoke about Breaker’s international film selection, now primarily targeted towards American audiences. "Breaker uses blockchain to enable creatives and right holders to collect revenue with unprecedented efficiency and ease." The technology and coding automatically determine the revenue distribution, removing human error and providing transparency. This also allows them to bypass traditional gatekeepers and the need for creators to pay thousands to have your film featured on a video streaming platform.

Craven underlined the potential for transparent data to transform the industry and inform the maker’s marketing campaigns. "With no gatekeepers hiding or manually reporting on your audience, you are directly informed: who is watching? When do they stop watching?" This directly relates to the main challenge currently faced by Breaker, namely how to market films and get them to audiences.

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Drawing the event to a close, Craven provides context. "This technology is young. It's taken huge leaps in the past years. Two years ago, a panel on blockchain would have been purely theoretical. We’ve overcome huge technical hurdles." Kashyap, in turn, speaks of ambitions for the future: "filmmaking is expensive, and I hope we can enable people to create with what they want to create. I've constantly faced those limitations in my twenty years in the industry. We hope to empower creatives with blockchain technology."