Could the daughter of a legend be paving a new path in Hollywood?
Julie Pacino might have an early look at the future. The daughter of the legendary Al Pacino is beginning to mint her own legacy by self-funding her directorial debut film I Live Here Now by selling pieces of her film as NFTs.
On August 31, the filmmaker/photographer released her first NFT collection “I Live Here Now,” an assortment of 100 photos taken at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, Calif., meant to be used to portray three of the film’s central characters and develop the film’s narrative. The film is set to be about a young actress who discovers she’s pregnant and escapes the image-centric land of Hollywood to retreat at the Madonna Inn, where she discovers the staff has darker interests in her body. Pacino describes the collection on NFT marketplace OpenSea as a way to see how the film “transforms, unfolds in real-time through these photographs,” and the highly stylized photos truly look like stripped away pieces of a movie. But, it’s the innovation in the fan experience with the film that has her use of NFT less novelty and more visionary.
Pacino sold each of the 100 photographs on Opensea for the price of .2 Ethereum tokens, the top cryptocurrency used to create NFTs. The price of one Ethereum token in late August hovered around $3800, netting the 32-year-old filmmaker more than $76,000 for the 20 Etherum tokens accumulated through those 100 individual sales. OpenSea allows collection creators to receive royalties on each successive sale of their NFTs up to 10%, which could drive Pacino’s profits to feature-film budget levels. On October 22 alone, 12 of the NFTs from her collection were sold for roughly 17 Etherum according to OpenSea’s activity tracker. That amounts to more than $69,000 in sales and nets Pacino $6,900 if she implemented the 10% royalty. And her collection has sold over 30 Ethereum worth of NFTs since then, potentially lining Pacino’s pockets with an additional five figures in revenue on top of what she generated in the first two months of the collection’s release.
Beyond providing a potentially game-changing blueprint for independent films to be self-funded, I Live Here Now is tapping into the creative utility of NFTs by offering the ability to “weigh in on creative decisions,” according to Deadline. Film production and distribution company Utopia recently signed a deal to produce and distribute Pacino’s I Live Here Now, and one of its executives told Deadline the innovative approach to create the film as satisfying audiences’ desires to “engage in and around content in new ways.” For Pacino, NFT’s inclusion in the film’s creation is both a technological epiphany and a needed tool for dismantling the financial barriers that keep films by marginalized groups from reaching the screen.
“The NFT space has changed my life by connecting me with an incredible community and enabling me to grow my body of work. I want this project to help pave the way for democratizing film financing and opening more doors for queer and female filmmakers to create and share their art,” Pacino said in a statement.
The funding issue NFTs can help solve has been dire. At the 78th annual Venice International Film Festival, only 29% of the film submissions came from women. That comes a year after the human rights organization Council of Europe reported female directors in Europe received half as much the funding as their male counterparts. Management firm McKinsey & Company recently reported films led by Black directors, writers, and producers received 40% less funding than films led by other groups of people. Representation on screen starts with equality in funding, and self-funding a project through incentivizing people to monetarily gain from selling parts of your film while you get a piece of each of those sales could lead to a sea change in the types of films we see in theaters and at home.
Hollywood has slowly begun gravitating towards NFTs, with movies featuring Academy Award-level talents such as Anthony Hopkins and The Irishman producer Niels Juul funding through NFT drops, and offering NFT holders everything from visits to the set to walk-on roles. NFTs are slowly growing from overpriced digital avatars to real-world problem solvers, and it might be time we all start taking them seriously in 2022.