Over his three decades as a tech entrepreneur, Cameron Chell has shown a knack for identifying transformative technologies early on and he believes he’s done it again.
Chell is the executive director of CurrencyWorks, a developer of digital currencies and related systems, and co-head of Vuele, a direct-to-consumer, full-length feature film NFT viewing and distribution platform. Vuele recently announced it will debut Anthony Hopkins’ new movie Zero Contact exclusively to consumers as an NFT. The campaign surrounding the release has generated plenty of buzz due to Hopkins’ involvement, and that will help consumer awareness of NFTs to grow rapidly.
Just like he did with cloud computing in the late 1990s and commercial drones, Chell quickly saw blockchain’s transformative potential. After learning about the technology in 2015, he founded CurrencyWorks, which develops blockchain-based cryptocurrency payment systems along with blockchain systems for security token trading and tracking. They have done NFT work with Topps trading cards and Barrett-Jackson Auction Company, where they created NFTs of cars and special moments in automobile history
Blockchain provided Chell with a couple of “aha” moments, he said. The first was how he knew it could eliminate the middleman and the second was realizing the potential of having digital content that is unique, everything from songs to movies.
“I saw decent potential. I was most excited to take digital content, make it scarce and apply value,” Chell said.
Of course, landing a movie starring one of the premier actors of our generation in Anthony Hopkins was a great stroke and it was a few years in the making. Chell is friends with Rick Dugdale, a fellow Canadian working in Los Angeles as the head of Enderby Entertainment. The two talked at length about how blockchain could impact all areas of the film industry, from payments and royalty distribution to intellectual property rights. As the NFT market evolved they had more conversations about how to use blockchain as a distribution method.
At the time Dugdale was shooting Zero Contact, a perfect movie to introduce this innovation, Chell said. The film centers on a late tech titan played by Hopkins who forces five characters based all over the world to work together to shut down his secret invention, one which could end mankind.
The plot and how the entire movie was produced during a pandemic lends itself well to an NFT release, Chell said. Zero Contact was in the works before COVID-19 but the onset of the pandemic forced Dugdale’s team to shoot virtually in 17 different countries. Dugdale owns the film so various legal issues were easier to address.
Think about the benefits offered by crowdfunded movie projects and mix in NFT technology and you have ways to promote content and have artists engage with fans in novel ways, Chell said. The biggest is a single NFT consisting of the Hopkins version of Zero Contact along with an earlier version featuring a different actor in the lead. There is only one copy and it’s on that NFT along with outtakes and a cameo for the NFT buyer or designates that can quickly be inserted into the movie.
Chell believes NFTs will be how feature films are going to be premiered. There will still be a red carpet gala, but if you want the movie first, you’ll have to bid on the NFT. Imagine legendary franchises like Star Wars or the Godfather being first released as NFTs and the value they would have today.
“We see it as an important component of getting fans engaged around the movie and creating new revenue streams,” Chell said
Chell envisions a collector marketplace where they can buy and sell entertainment-related NFTs while engaging with other movie buffs. Think Comic Cons but on a global scale that can drive the collectibles to new levels of value. Back in the day, there was a buzz about Star Wars and its ilk but now with the Internet-driven global audience, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
The industry has been receptive to what Chell and Vuele are doing, he said. They’re waiting to see how it goes and want to understand how it works. Then, success breeds imitation, and when it works, Chell, Vuele, and CurrencyWorks will be front and center.
“All conversations have been friendly,” Chell said. “First and foremost there’s a willingness out there for this to succeed.”