Tearing Down the 4th Wall in Blockchain Media [Interview with G Esmay of Screenbreaker]

Blockchain’s Red Carpet Event

From the get-go of today’s blockchain environment, creative industries have maintained an essential role in the prospects and development of decentralized technologies. There are few legacy industries in more need of its promising disruption – transparency, access, fairness, and legitimacy. Artists, collectors, and makers of all kinds have long pined for better provenance, better authenticity, and better distribution of value across the creative arena. The hypothesis here is that a decentralized creative economy will simply lead to more and better creative work.

And in the last several months, we’ve seen blockchain applications become industry mainstays that are encroaching on the mainstreams of art (SuperRare), auction houses (Portion), and collectible markets (OpenSea). Film is the last frontier, dealing with some of the most expansive creative assets. Breaker (formerly SingularDTV) is leading the fight on this front with their latest application, creating a way for film viewers to directly compensate the creators of their favorite movies.

Now, Breaker is daylighting longstanding efforts to the masses with their upcoming event Screenbreaker in New York on April 26-27. We had a chance to discuss with G. Thomas Esmay, Director of Community Engagement at Breaker, about the 2-day festival and what impact we’re starting to see in the film industry. 

The Creative Crypto: Thank you for joining us G! Let’s get right into it, what is Screenbreaker?

G: Screenbreaker was borne out of this realization at Breaker that there wasn’t really one good place for the entertainment industry and blockchain to come together and have an interesting mindshare. It has been limited to single blockchain panels at larger conferences and events without a dedicated space to speak on ongoing and potential innovations. We’re dealing with very traditional industries and an emerging disruptive technology that requires a great deal of understanding and open discussion.

We decided to create Screenbreaker for those two sectors to come together and explore, discuss, and experiment with the marriage of the two.

CC: How will the event unfold?

There are a few different ways to participate during the event. Paired with and scheduled alongside the film screenings, you can attend the talks and panels that will bring together the key figures with entertainment industry leaders. Each film will have a Q+A for the public to engage with artists and producers to offer a more intimate experience on the making of the work as well as their experience with Breaker.

We also launched the ‘Breakthrough’ contest (https://www.screenbreaker.io/break-through, deadline April 15) as well, where anyone can submit a new music track or short film. Winners will be selected by a panel of judges and will be featured at the event as well as on the Breaker application. Much of the event is centered around how artists can be more involved with the latest blockchain innovations and Breakthrough is an opportunity designed for exactly this.

CC: For someone new to blockchain, what is Breaker and why should they be interested? What’s the core reason to be engaged if you’re a screenwriter, actor, director, etc.?

Your involvement depends on the sort of artist you are. For visual artists, there has been great headway on the topic and practice of creating crypto-collectibles that are digitally scarce and prove provenance. For us, and this affects all creative industries, blockchain is the best tool to distribute artist royalties and residual payments throughout the life of a project. There’s an opportunity to create contracts where separate parties can claim them potentially as fast as the point of sale. These are some of the most opaque and vulnerable processes in media industries so the prospect of a different economic network is very exciting.

Speakers at Screenbreaker

Of course, to take of advantage of blockchain’s offerings, you have to be educated and immersed in the latest developments of the tech. With so many avenues to explore, each interested person has to understand at least what blockchain is and how it affects your specific industry or status. Screenbreaker’s mission is to make that onboarding much more seamless.

CC: What are the main challenges in the current media industry and what is being disrupted by Breaker? For someone attending film school now, what is the industry status quo that blockchain is looking to challenge?

From the perspective of a person who did attend film school, I’ve got a great deal to say here. To sum it up, what often goes under-taught in universities are those icky lessons that prepare you for the actual media production and distribution process. If you have the opportunity to finally get your work produced for the first time, you’re likely going to be put in a vulnerable position concerning your personal rights of ownership and profit share. We see a great number of artists helplessly selling away a lot of their rights for the sake of realizing their ambitions. Through the app and the event, we’re working to promote a better level of awareness concerning these pitfalls.

CC: For a film enthusiast, why should they care and how will the experience change for the average Netflix viewer?

If you’re someone who is particularly passionate about a film series or director, Breaker allows you support your favorite creators more directly. On other platforms, directors often do not receive royalties with the platform itself soaking up much of the profit. Blockchain platforms insure in some part that you’re supporting the creators with your purchases, rentals, and even general viewership. This is appealing for the conscientious consumer of art and creative work.

If you’re a general layperson just interested in new and interesting content, you’ll be able to find more niche films that wouldn’t find their way to mainstream stages and screens. With more decentralization comes more access. Breaker is not a permission platform, so anyone can upload work for public access. This is great for slightly offbeat content that wasn’t being made in the traditional paradigm to finally find its audience.

CC: You’ve mentioned that you’re focusing on helping create work that really lives on Breaker and blockchain. Are there filmmakers that are beginning to expand even your expectations of how people would be using the platform? 

If you want to get a sense of what filmmakers are producing on Breaker, Screenbreaker is an excellent place to start exploring. We’re screening many films that we actively produced and are currently distributing, including Trust Machine, a documentary on blockchain, and Prospect, a dystopic sci-fi film.

There are lots more to explore including a growing lineup of B-horror movies and a nice selection of comedy content added by Comedy Dynamic. There is also a great collection of films from the public domain for users who aren’t ready to purchase a movie yet. They can watch some free films and download some content.

CC: Has this niche target strategy been a winning formula? Do you recommend that as a strategy for other blockchain companies?

Attracting niche categories is a major part of our marketing strategy. There are just simply too many existing entertainment platforms to compete with to not have an angle into the community and market.

We’ve found that for people who are passionate about a particular niche, they’re willing to go where the stuff they love is. A lot of the other content living on Breaker is doing so on a non-exclusive basis as well. Many artists are uploading films to experiment with how the experience is like, including working with putting content on a blockchain, setting up clear royalties and residuals, and so on.

We’re still discovering and constantly iterating on strategy in order to reach more artists and art enthusiasts. In general, it’s important to remember that for the average consumer, centralized platforms have served them very well. It’s important to focus on what your dapp is really tailored for. That logic is applicable for any product, but it’s a very important ethic for us as both a dapp and content platform.

The Creative Crypto’s Panel at Screenbreaker

CC: Anything else we should know and explore before the event?

For those new to Breaker, sign up for the newsletter on our site to receive updates and more info on Screenbreaker. Try out the application as keep an eye out for all the new content that is being uploaded and added. Watch movies, listen to music, and provided any feedback as we’re always looking to improve.

And of course, attend Screenbreaker if you’d like to learn more about what’s happening under the hood and how you can get involved!

Thank you G for joining us today! If you’d like to learn more, check out the links below and if you’re planning to attend, be sure to say hi to the Creative Crypto team at our panel on Day 2.

Screenbreaker Websitehttps://www.screenbreaker.io/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WeAreBreaker
Breaker Website: https://www.breaker.io/

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