Can NFTs Deconstruct Big Media?

nfts the fringe

Every once in a while I come across some fortuitous intersection of topics I’m researching that really proves that the universe is listening. 

A while ago, I wrote a review for the 2018 sci-fi movie Prospect, which appeared on Netflix. It was a fairly good movie with a simple premise and interesting characters. Not the best sci-fi movie out there, but a good one nevertheless. 

I hadn’t seen or heard anything about Prospect since I’d done some research on it for that review, but the other day I came across this article about the Prospect filmmakers and NFTs

Seeing as how we’ve talked about NFTs and how they apply to science fiction on Signals from the Edge before, I figured this topic deserved further investigation. 

Understanding The Fringe

So the universe in which the Prospect film lives is called The Fringe, and it’s a collaborative universe created by Zeek Earl and Chris Caldwell. 

After watching the Prospect movie–which is a far-future sci-fi movie about illegal space miners and bandits–I didn’t initially learn anything about The Fringe. 

However, after reading a few articles in the past day or so, I’ve come to see that The Fringe is much more than just an “umbrella universe” for Prospect. 

The Fringe instead is a franchise, much like Star Wars, Star Trek, or The Expanse, and Prospect was only one project in a realm of hundreds of possibilities. 

And how do Caldwell and Earl plan on funding The Fringe? With NFTs, that’s how. 

Using NFTs to Fund Art

The Fringe creators collaborated with the TAKA Artist Collective to create around 10,000 unique NFT collectibles called Drifters. The sale of these NFTs will fund The Fringe’s next project, which is another feature film. 

The allure of owning a Fringe NFT is pretty powerful. In addition to some benefits like a community Discord server and the ability to win super rare NFTs, Drifter owners have a say in the creation of new, in-franchise stories. 

nfts the fringe
A selection of Drifter NFTs, as shown on their website

For example, Drifter owners will be able to compete in various challenges to have their NFT character featured in the first film project, and have individual short-form content made about them later on in the franchise. 

As someone who loves seeing Easter Eggs and throwbacks in film and media, this is a pretty compelling opportunity. Not only will you own an NFT that grants you access to the community behind-the-scenes, but you could also become part of the cinematic universe!

Why Use NFTs?

Some of you might be thinking, “Why would the Prospect duo use NFTs to fund their projects?” After all, their first film did well-enough, they could partner with larger film companies for funding or take on more investors. 

But, as Caldwell and Earl expressed, “The dream is to keep The Fringe with the fans and out of the hands of Disney and the like.” And NFT sales allows them to tap into the community of fans, but to remain independent from media moguls. 

And for people who are gradually getting frustrated with the massive money-making machines behind Star Wars and other popular franchises, the appeal of a crowdfunded franchise is hard to pass up. 

NFTs not only act as a means for making money, however, they’re also a powerful marketing tool. I for one would love to get in on a project like this early, and have a chance to have my ideas heard. That might be one of the primary selling points for the NFTs, aside from any monetary reward you gain from selling it down the line. 

Of course, NFTs aren’t a perfect solution to ending the big media overlords. They’re powered by the Ethereum blockchain, which, as I’ve talked about before, isn’t the most environmentally friendly. If NFT-funded franchise projects become the norm, what will that do to the environment? Rampant energy use is a big problem right now, and NFTs, if unchecked or unmodified, can drastically worsen the problem. 

But, Caldwell and Earl state that they aim to make the process as carbon neutral as possible, and hopefully other creators enact the same protocols. 

Honestly, The Fringe is a project that has a lot of potential, and is already gearing up to be an alternative to mainstream media. Hopefully that’s a sign that independent artists and communities of artists can start to take back some of the power from the Disney’s of the world. That way, we can start to see content that’s not just designed to make money, but to tell a story and have a purpose. 

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