NFT’s are all the rage for digital artists. Looking at things right now, I should hop aboard this trend train, but first one needs to know all about NFT’s or Non-Fungible Tokens. Luckily I spoke to someone who not only told me what they were, but also explained the latest series he was working on. Neil Stevenson-Moore, an amazing master of technology and the creator of an interesting new series called Genzeroes. A sci-fi series about how humanity tries to recover after dealing with viking type aliens (in behaviour, not looks because that would be weird) who have pillaged the Earth and stolen a lot of stuff. It’s a crazy story about crazy happenings, but along the way people learn they have to work together again. After all, that is what got the aliens to scram after the attack. But now it’s like Game Of Thrones set many years into the future. We talked quite a while about this new art form and this new series. So strap in and I’ll take you on my journey of sci-fi and NFT for beginners.
HNMAG: First things first, tell me about NFT’s, and what they are.
Neil: So I won’t bore anyone with the long explanation of Fungibility vs. Non-fungibility, the easiest way to look at them is, they are the future of IP (Intellectual Property) protection for digital artists, whether it be filmmakers, photographers, or people that are pros in Photoshop. It allows artists to use blockchain technology to guarantee consumers that they’re getting a piece that is authentic and that the artist gets recognition and can get commissions as that NFT changes hands in the future. The second thing NFT’s are is a way for communities to support projects they are excited about. Unlike some of the crowdfunding websites where if I support something and I get a t-shirt and that’s kind of it. If I buy an NFT to support a project, there can be all kinds of utilities that can come with it, even things like fractional ownership in that thing I’m participating in.
HNMAG: How do NFT’s protect IP’s?
Neil: The process for that is let’s say for example I take a digital photograph, I put it on a smart contract, and I say that I’m only going to produce 100 versions of that photo. Once it gets minted on the blockchain, every transaction of that piece gets recorded, anyone that wants to purchase that piece can be guaranteed that it’s the original version. There’s also ways to do things like maybe only the owner of the NFT can have the access to the truly high-res version. The buyers can only get a low-res version. But it’s the equivalent of somebody can only guarantee that they have a Picasso when someone else has a forgery. They look very similar but this person would know they have the authentic one.
HNMAG: And why are they becoming a big part of entertainment nowadays?
Neil: I’ve been a technology executive for 15 years, and the worst thing is when people use technology as a gimmick. We saw this when VR first came out and people were inventing ways to use the technology, to try to show it off. But what NFT’s are going to do is they’re going to replace things like tickets. If you buy a ticket it’s on a blockchain so if you sell it, I’m guaranteed to have that authentic ticket. It allows people to sell them on different streams because a blockchain can be on record. People can see it as a transparency there. You can imagine opportunities for people to do things like micro-investments in projects or buy limited edition comic books and you’re never in the future going to buy real world projects without a great value unless you get that NFT that proves that it’s real. So NFT’s and entertainment do two things: 1, it’s meant for people to own collectibles that are meant to be real, imagine if you had the first Optimus Prime that ever came out in Transformers. This is what people are going to have in these pieces, they’re going to have these digital experiences that over the next 3 to 5 years, not only will they get this NFT that lives in a digital wallet, they’ll be able through metaverses that only they have access to. The level of collectibles is going to blow people away. Our project Genzeroes is just the tip of the spear. What we’re doing is leveraging NFT’s, we’re going to have a range of them. You don’t have to be a millionaire to get them, we’ll actually be giving away NFT’s that will increase in value in the future. To get in, it’s kind of like your ticket to watch the show, and then something that’s going to evolve overtime.
HNMAG: So now NFT’s are going to be tickets of the future?
Neil: That’s right. When a studio produces a film, there’s a certain amount of people that get to see it first. Some focus groups, or studio executives, or people that can help edit it and help make that first raw cut. It’s really behind closed doors, and then after that the film gets put through all kinds of pieces. We’ve all heard of director’s cuts, maybe that doesn’t come to market, but the one that does goes into film houses. It comes into theatres and you pay for your ticket to see it, and the next stage is for it to come on demand. What we are offering the community is a chance for NFT holders to be in that first room, and see the director’s cut before it goes to the movie theatre. Fans of science fiction can get in and be on the ground floor on projects. When we announce an NFT, they get early access and can give feedback as well. The NFT will also give them access to things like winning a round-trip ticket to comic-con with seeing our release of the final cut of Genzeroes. They can get access to limited edition merchandise or props from the show, that you wouldn’t have access to without an NFT. Not just a community, but a world that gives you insider status.
HNMAG: What goes in the world of NFTs? And what makes something an NFT?
Neil: To be an NFT just means a digital asset. But there’s a little more to it than that, I know a lot of tech guys out there will jump on it for not going into the difference between fungibility and non. There’s a lot of great Youtube videos out there that people can watch. But what it comes down to is a limited number of assets on the blockchain that you can guarantee are real. That’s what underpins what is an NFT.
HNMAG: WIth tickets and projects, how will people show proof of purchased NFT’s?
Neil: For our projects specifically, they would come to Genzeroes.com, they will need to create a digital wallet. Digital wallets hold NFT’s and we will have instructions on our website that explain all of that. But the second you’ve set up a digital wallet, that’s outside of our website you connect the two of them and then the website will be able to check whether or not you own an NFT that gives you access. If you do, it opens up a new portal for you to enjoy.
HNMAG: Do you feel NFT’s are going to be around for a long time? Maybe even beyond 5 years?
Neil: Yes. When you look at our world, proving that you own something digital is not going away. NFT’s and blockchains and the encryption that live behind them, I have a feeling it’s going to last for a very long time.
HNMAG: And what do NFT’s have to do with this series Genzeroes in particular?
Neil: House of Kiba hired a series of incredible artists to design 10 faction leaders. These artists have worked for Star Wars Mandalorian, and other different pieces. The 10 faction leaders and their armoured men, we broke into what could’ve been billions of pieces and then reassembled them in 10 thousand unique pieces which we sold as NFT’s. That project raised about 6 million dollars, in a matter of 30 minutes. We have a very passionate fan group that got excited about what we built. But we knew that we always wanted to make more, so what the Genzeroes story does is bring you into the story and background of those 10 faction leaders. So the Genzeroes will be the first live action series that was not only funded by an NFT project, but uses NFT’s to give the community access. What I mean by that is there’s a couple different ways NFT’s will be used in entertainment. One will be collectibles, the same way as trading cards. The second piece will be that our community will be able to practice fractional ownership. They can tell us what our series should like or different pieces in how we cut it. The NFT’s will really engage the community in a way no one has seen it.
HNMAG: Fan feedback, I like it. But is there any controversy from people about NFT’s?
Neil: Oh, it’s really cool and what’s neat is there’s a lot of interactions regarding NFT’s out there. They think NFT’s are only for the uber-rich and that they are built on blockchains that are killing the environment. Some of that is not unfounded, there are certain projects that the NFT’s are selling for hundreds of thousands of millions of dollars. But when they first started, they were less than $300. For our project, we wanted to arrange for people that want to buy into the project, but we’re also going to be giving away NFT’s for our community and all our NFT’s will be built on blockchains that are carbon-neutral that don’t require this mass amount of energy to produce them so we’re making sure we take these things into account as we do our project.
HNMAG: It sounds like quite an elaborate setting, how much went into pre-production?
Neil: The most important thing to us is actually two Interesting things. The NFT community is full of early adopters of technology, that love getting behind projects that are technological or artistic, they get really passionate about them and want to see them succeed. A community that’s adjacent to that is the sci-fi community. In both of these cases, they are audiences that are discerning and want to see a great project. The most important thing to us was to build a project that recognized the community, so the NFT project and technology we’re putting behind it really looks great. But to answer your question directly, the first phone call I made when I knew we wanted to make a sci-fi film was Aleks Paunovic. I’ve known him for years, I’ve seen him grow as an actor, and I know from knowing him over that time period, he’s so well respected in the community not just with the fans, but with producers and other actors because of how honest and humble he is. When I told him we wanted to do this, he recommended we get Matt Venables and Jeremy Smith.
Neil went on to explain that not only was it important to build a great world, but to have writers who have worked on science fiction before, especially writers from Van Helsing. They spent months designing a world that the sci-fi community could really lose themselves in. The story is that the years 21 and 22 are bad, but 23 gets worse with an alien attack. The story takes place 200 years after the attack where humanity is rebuilding, which is a bit harder now that humans are kind of hating each other again. They have been separated into 10 factions each with their own different beliefs and their own view of the world, believing they’re doing it for the right reasons.
HNMAG: Would you say you were inspired by COVID?
Neil: (laughs) I think you could say that COVID was certainly inspiration for this. One of the interesting things about great sci-fi is it often reflects the moment. Even things like King Kong were coming out when the world was unlocking its last corners. In today’s world, this idea of something that the planet had to pull together to fight against, this certainly pieces to it and thinking about how the world can grow back from that. I was certainly inspired by that.
HNMAG: Is a lot of the set made of green screen?
Neil: In Vancouver where we’re based, the advantages are there’s more movies made in Vancouver than anywhere else in the world. Lot of people recognize it as Hollywood North, as you know (laughs), but it was important to us to really bring humanity into this. As much as it funded about ten thousand robots. It was important to make a live action series that allowed us to do something exciting, so the director Kimani Ray Smith has grown out of the stunt community. He’s an extremely talented director and one of the reasons that we were excited to get him was because of his background in understanding fights and fight scenes. He also understands tension. As we talk about these political things and the world that is around them with fighting was important to have that. But we didn’t just want to do a lot of greenscreens so we’re actually having some props made, so more of it is allowing actors to give great performances.
HNMAG: How has the production and editing process been going?
Neil: It’s ongoing, we’re going to be shooting in a couple weeks. Up until now, we have been building an incredible cast, an incredible crew, this process has been amazing. Aleks has been able to make phone calls and he has such amazing respect in the community that he got people involved. The same thing with some of our writers who are very excited. It’s been a dream so far, of everyone getting excited.
HNMAG: Do you plan to make this go on for seasons?
Neil: That is the plan. We have a plan for 10 episodes and we’re going to release the first 4, and the community that gets in early and comes to our website, they email us or buy an NFT or unlock one by being there for some of our free drops, they’re going to be on a wild ride. They’re going to get feedback privileges and access to some really limited edition NFT’s, merchandise, and props. This acts as a proof point, we also built this up to introduce the community and then either license it or sell it to produce full hour-long episodes that drive everything forward.
HNMAG: Besides purchasing NFT’s and investing in projects, how else can fans get involved with House Of Kiba?
Neil: To get involved, please go to Genzeroes.com. At minimum, jump on the mailing list. They can join Discord, we have a very active Discord community that people can join. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, it’s going to get very active over the next several weeks as we start filming and we want feedback from people. Those are the easiest ways to get involved.
Like he said, check out the site and become a contributor to this series today. Check out these other social media accounts too and give ‘em a follow to stay in the loop!