Media3: How Web3 is Reshaping Storytelling through NFTs

Web3 has given rise to generative NFTs that let artists get support from individuals through new forms of storytelling within different mediums.

In many ways, storytelling is the fabric of our culture. Our narratives tell us who we are and who we want to be. They help us understand our past and articulate our values. But in recent decades, the power of storytelling has rested almost entirely in the hands of publishers and media executives which is a problem.

Over the years, gatekeepers have determined what tales get told. They decided what content was created and when people could access it.

However, thanks to Web3 technologies, this phenomenon is beginning to change.

Non-fungible tokens let artists go directly to individuals for support instead of relying on studios or other gatekeepers. Creators can build a loyal fanbase around the NFT collection from the very beginning of story development due to the community that springs up around the NFT collection. Moreover, artists don’t have to give up their IP or creative control because the project is funded by individuals instead of studios.

Thus we can say that NFTs enable artists to retain creative rights and create a perpetual funding mechanism driven by fans who truly care about the story. And this community-centered model has transformed almost every aspect of storytelling.

An Evolution in Narrative

“Old-media produced movies on gated backlots and then piped that product to the populace. The content only flowed in one direction,” Bryce Anderson, Co-founder of Runner, explained in an interview. Now, Anderson notes that we have entered the era of collaborative content — one that is characterized by “fan and creator-driven storytelling.”

Bryan Unkeless, Co-founder of Runner and Hunger Games Co-Producer, clarified that Web3 offers fans a way to be “involved in the very DNA of a project” by helping build both “the world and narrative from the ground up.” Specifically, NFTs give fans a way to vote with their wallets and determine what projects get funded — and how those stories unfold post-funding. In this respect, Unkeless observes that the future of Web3 is all about developing a community and story simultaneously.

“Instead of investing $100m into a movie and then releasing it to see if it resonates with audiences, we go directly to the audience from the beginning. That Web3 ethos makes it fundamentally different from what Hollywood has done until now — and it’s fundamental to the next generation of IP creation,” he said.

Sam Brukhman, Metaversal’s Creative Director, adds that this new era of collaborative content will foster creativity. “For the first time in a very long time, people from opposite life experiences and backgrounds are coming together to collaborate and create new genres and artistic experiences. NFT technologies are providing a financial vehicle for this new art but also a medium…by which artists can take their vision to the next level,” he said.

Web3 storytelling is still in its infancy. As a result, it’s difficult to know precisely how this more community-based approach will transform storytelling. We can however get a better idea of where things are headed by looking at the original projects and current projects that build on these projects.

How Web 3 Storytelling was Born

Safa, the co-founder of Tally Labs, is a Web3 media company that creates metaverse characters. Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC), which granted IP rights to NFT owners, is responsible for opening up the floodgates to a new age of story creation.

According to Safa, instead of a central party creating all the narratives, BAYC gave individuals “the tools to play their part and benefit both themselves and the wider brand.” In other words, by giving NFT owners IP rights, BAYC handed the power of storytelling over to their community.

The brand grew in popularity as each project gained more renown. “Disney, the most famous Web2 media business, is built on protecting their IP at all costs. When BAYC came around and offered commercial rights to holders, an entirely new mindset emerged,” he said.

BAYC is a notable project that hands some of the creative control over to their community and is not the only project to do this.

For example, Stoner Cats was one of the first-ever TV shows funded by and accessed through NFTs. Mila Kunis and Orchard Farm Productions created it, and NFT holders received various opportunities for co-creation. For example, holders were able to have storyboard sessions with the creators and vote for several creative elements with exclusive product placement opportunities.

These projects, like Runner: The Omega Race, are now looking to build on this momentum to take the Web3 storytelling world and collaborative IP creation to new heights.

The Future Web3 Storytelling

Runner is the brainchild of director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, screenwriter Blaise Hemingway, producers Bryan Unkeless and Bryce Anderson, and Metaversal. It tells the story of a futuristic new world where the currency of power is literally speed. The story takes place on the planet Omega where the rulers of the world compete for control in an annual race.

But the project is not just about exploring novel forms of power. The team’s primary aim is to “champion a decentralized wave of world-building that will break down the doors of traditional media.”

The project kicks off in June of 2022, and individuals will be able to purchase the Runner comic via the official site. Comic holders will then be able to access to a PFP drop later in 2022. This is the key to this new form of storytelling, as NFT holders will have a say in the creative direction and IP rights to the characters attached to their NFTs.

Hemingway also notes that the team is using comics as a world-building tool. “Fan-centric mediums, like comics, have shown the value of building a community alongside the art. With web3 tools, we can amplify that power and drive an entirely new way of storytelling that includes the audience throughout,” he said.

Marvel is a ready example of how comics can be used to launch a multi-platform, multi-channel storyverse. The company built a billion-dollar juggernaut of movies, TV shows, merchandise, and more based on comics. Now, the Runner team is working to accomplish the same thing, but with one notable exception — they intend to let their community help steer the direction.

To describe this community-funded and community-driven storytelling approach, Runner coined the term “Media3.” Anderson explains that the fundamental feature of Media3 is a sharing of power, i.e., both creators and fans become part of the story’s creation and make it what it is. “While not completely relinquishing control of the narrative, the creators invite the participation of the audience and respond. The goal is to enable those who care most about a project or story to contribute to this multimedia storyverse,” he explained.

In this decentralized storytelling model fans are more than just consumers — they are co-creators. “Rather than start with creativity and then find community, we’re embarking on both paths together,” Unkeless explains.

Nicolas-Troyan says that this is a big reason why he gravitated towards Runner and Metaversal. “A big aspect of this project for me is being able to say, ‘listen, this is the world that we created. We tell the story of a dozen people in it. But there are millions of people in this world. If you want to play in it and tell other stories, please do,’” he said.

According to Brukhman, crypto-native storytelling’s true magic lies in the ability of everyday consumers and others to support a story’s development from the beginning. “Web3 provides a platform that allows communities to rally behind content they believe in. That’s why IP and Web3 are so symbiotic. IP provides the vision and ultimate content while Web3 allows it to exist in a tangible way,” he says.

The right reason to turn to Web3 to create a story is, according to the team, co-creation – a desire to link with fans in new and meaningful ways. If this is true, then the possibilities are endless.

Hemingway believes in the bright future of Media3 and that it will soon attract an array of more talented artists. “I think as other creatives in Hollywood recognize the freedoms of storytelling in Web3, you’re going to see other high-caliber seasoned pros migrating into this space. A good story is a good story, regardless of the medium in which you tell it,” he said.


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