Roman Coppola Bets on Blockchain in Cannes

·3-min read

Director, writer and producer Roman Coppola is in Cannes to promote his blockchain-based filmmaking platform, Decentralized Pictures — an ambitious undertaking that the “French Dispatch” co-writer describes as “a very long-term endeavor.”

While blockchain’s application in film financing has yielded mixed results over the years — many blockchain ventures that rocked up to Cannes years ago, for example, are now reportedly non-existent — Coppola says he’s taking Decentralized Pictures “very seriously” and that the platform has the backing of his production company with sister Sofia Coppola, American Zoetrope.

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“I’ve never done too many things over and over again,” said Coppola, citing his family’s own track record in technical innovation, including his grandfather’s work on “The Jazz Singer.” “Generally it’s a new experience I’m drawn to. I follow my curiosity and this project is very much in that spirit.”

Coppola will premiere “The French Dispatch” on the red steps on Monday night. He co-wrote the story for the film with Anderson, and tells Variety that he’s also at work on the director’s new film out of Spain, which is a closely guarded secret.

In Cannes, Coppola also took part in a Cannes Next panel with CEO Leo Matchett, detailing the ethos behind Decentralized Pictures.

The platform, which recently launched in beta mode, allows filmmakers to submit proposals that are then voted on by the platform’s community of artists, filmmakers and lovers of cinema. Anyone can sign up to review projects and those who are good at reviewing will build a reputation and their votes will gain additional weight in the process, and earn for doing so.

Because the platform uses blockchain, there’s a record of everything. Voter data is transparent and recorded, which helps to determine the most deserving projects and guide them to financing and support with a network of industry partners.

Meanwhile, the highest rated projects will be connected with production partners for development, production and distribution, and runners-up will be introduced to talent agencies and management companies.

It’s effectively a “homebase for creators and consumers who love cinema to connect and become aware of projects,” said Matchett.

There are other elements to the platform as well. Users can ask creative queries using a type of polling feature that integrates multimedia (for example, asking the community what trailer for a horror movie is most effective). There is also a quiz in which you can earn points.

As for how users can feel confident about sharing their ideas on an open platform, that’s where the power of blockchain comes in, says Michael Musante, VP of production and acquisitions for American Zoetrope.

The executive told Variety that the platform’s blockchain foundation may not be immediately evident given its user-friendly interface, but the technology records everything so that there is documentation of who has even visited a project or interacted with it in any way, meaning filmmakers can feel secure about their IP.

Said Coppola: “A lot of times I meet someone and have a sense they’re doing something interesting, but it’s not possible [to evaluate the work]. So the idea that you can meet someone at a film or event and feel they have a knack and I can sponsor them with my badge, and that will kick it into a higher level of awareness because the reputation that I have gives extra credence.

“It’ll be fun for me to sponsor things and see things, and my sister [Sofa Coppola] as well. People want to be a part of something exciting and hear about it early and to support voices that should be supported.”

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