While the NFT market may have initially only seemed readily functional to digital and visual artists, the growth of this online marketplace has presented artists of other media with another income opportunity as well. Filmmakers like Jennifer Esposito are finding ways to leverage it to finance upcoming projects. The upcoming film, Fresh Kills— written and directed by Esposito, will be financed in part by NFTs.
When Esposito initially set out to have Fresh Kills produced, she was told “‘financial backing depended on having a male lead in the film, as well as a male director, despite the fact that it is the story of women in the mafia world’” (Adkins 2021). Instead of compromising her artistic and inclusive vision, Esposito opted for a crowd-sourcing method to finance the film instead. Part of this funding method will enable fans to become investors through buying stock in the film. Another way for fans to show their support will be through the purchase of NFTs.
The NFTs are all minted on the Ethereum blockchain and sold on the Upstream NFT marketplace. Fans looking to support the project have a range of NFT options to choose from. The purchase of some of the NFTs include perks associated with the film, like signed copies of the script or the buyer’s name in the credits. The actual NFT portion of these purchases, however, seem to only be an image of a ticket and that reads what the buyer will receive outside of the digital space. Other NFTs appear to be more standard, in that buyers pay only for the NFT itself, which is a unique piece of artwork based on the film.
The more traditional NFTs range in price from $1,000 – $300,000, available on the Dutch Auction system. The images, created by Gala Mirissa, are striking. They all are presumably reminiscent of the film’s tone, which is about women in a mafia family. Notably, none of the NFTs are entirely unique, as none of them are one-of-ones, suggesting the creators feel there is a decently sized fanbase eager to support the film. The cheapest one, entitled “The Bridge,” has 5,000 available for sale at a reserve price of $1,000. The most expensive, entitled “Freedom,” has only 3 available, at a reserve price of $300,000.
The artwork for the “Freedom” NFT features a close up of a young woman, in a painted style. The background is highly textured and the color scheme surreal. She is a whitish-grey with deep blue hair, while bright red spots that mimic bruising softly overlay portions of the image. A bright red paint stroke covers her mouth, emblemed with the film’s title, “Fresh Kills.” This image, as well as all the other NFT images, is dynamic. “Freedom” has a duration of 42 seconds, and as viewers watch it the paint stroke moves off the woman’s mouth and out through the right side of the frame. The cool tones become warm as the grays in the image fade to yellows. Shadows of horizontal lines also slowly appear over the image, perhaps suggesting the woman is imprisoned.
Although the image is beautiful, it alone does not have as much cultural significance to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. It seems additionally hindered in value by the fact that there are 3 minted versions of it, as the most expensive NFTs usually have only 1. The value of this NFT lies with its nature in going to fund a film. Those who purchase them are likely fans of Esposito and are excited to see the film, having an interest in its quality. While years into the future they will not hold an exceedingly unique or recognizable NFT, they will hold something representative of their participation in producing a movie that has meaning to them. Perhaps Esposito’s message of inclusion in the filmmaking industry and refusal to bend to the discriminatory norm will galvanize buyers. Needless to say, it will be very interesting to see how these NFTs sell and what kind of impact they have on how films are financed in the future.
“Fresh Kills.” freshkillsfilm.com., accessed Nov 10, 2021, https://freshkillsfilm.com/fresh/regd.
Biber, Liz and Adkins, Ali. “Jennifer Esposito Makes Directorial Debut with Independent Feature Film Fresh Kills.” businessinsider.com., last modified Oct 27, accessed Nov 10, 2021, https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20211027005251/en/Jennifer-Esposito-Makes-Directorial-Debut-With-Independent-Feature-Film-Fresh-Kills.
Mirissa, Gala. “Freedom” https://freshkillsfilm.com/images/5.%20FREEDOM.mp4.