As director Brian Taylor (“Crank,” “Crank: High Voltage,” “Mom and Dad”) watched the NFT market expand from digital paintings and photography to musical projects and beyond, the filmmaker decided to get in on the action, crafting a new experimental short film with Christopher Meloni.
“You hardly ever get to be first in anything in my business,” Taylor tells Variety, explaining why he decided to get in on the NFT craze. “Everything you do has been done 50,000 times before.”
“So I called Meloni and said, ‘Are you in?’ and he said ‘Absolutely,’ because he’s in for anything new,’” Taylor says. “So I flew to New York and we made a film.”
Taylor and Meloni first collaborated on the Syfy series “Happy,” where Meloni played an injured hitman who befriends his kidnapped daughter’s imaginary friend, a perky blue flying unicorn. All this to say, the actor and director were pretty comfortable going all in no matter how wild or weird things got.
According to a description of the movie, “Out!!!” follows M Berkoff (Meloni), a “douchebag Manhattan hedgefund manager,” who learns that a vesta-sized asteroid is on an imminent mass extinction collision course with the Earth. He has only 42 minutes to tie up all the loose ends in his life before he — and everyone else on the planet — are “peaced the fuck out.”
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Asked to recall the most memorable moment of the experiment, Taylor quips, “It’s always memorable to have Chris Meloni naked and covered in blood in front of you.”
“I think most fans of Chris would dream of a moment like that,” he adds. “They’ll just have to be jealous because I get moments like that all the time.”
Or maybe they’ll just have to bid on it.
The short film is up for auction on Open Sea, one of the biggest NFT marketplaces, until Sunday. In addition to the full short film, Taylor is also auctioning 24 alternate takes, outtakes or full scenes.
“The crypto chance of a lifetime IS HERE,” Meloni tweeted. “Whoever wins gets the rights — you can choose to watch it alone, with friends, or even leak it to the world.”
Taylor describes the sale as a “pure” version of an NFT, where the person who buys the rights to the short film or any of the scenes is truly the only person who has access to them.
“Once you own it, I will destroy all the original copies — the media, the sessions, the dailies,” he explains. “Nobody owns it anymore except the person who bought it.”
That type of innovation is what Taylor relished the most in the grand experiment of making and selling a film as an NFT.
“The main motivation, creatively was, ‘Let’s be first; let’s do something that hasn’t been done before,’” he says. “Whatever the normal obstacles are to making the film, let’s figure out a way around those.”
Filming amid the pandemic, the filmmaker enlisted a small crew to produce the project during a break in Meloni’s filming schedule on “Law and Order: Organized Crime.” Production took place over the course of a week.
Making the movie itself accomplished Taylor’s usual goal as a filmmaker, “which is to make great movies and impact the culture in some way.”
But there’s also the question of financial viability; how does one make their production budget back based on bids from the public that are calculated in speculative cryptocurrency?
“We’re not doing this to try to get rich, we’re just doing it because it’s interesting,” Taylor says, noting that the floor for bids on rights to the film are set so that the movie doesn’t lose money.
And, with an NFT, the usual metrics for success (box office and viewership numbers) go out the window.
“It’s the opposite of what the expectation would be for most films which is, I want this film seen by as many people as possible,” he says.
“The mission for this project is to put a thing, in this case a film, into the universe and see what the repercussions of that are,” Taylor explains. “[To] see if other people see that and are inspired to do something new. Or inspired to innovate based on that concept. And basically just throw an element of chaos out there, and see how it changes the game, if it does at all.”
Watch the trailer and view images from the boundary-pushing movie below: