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Lights, camera, blockchain! Tech for Good goes Hollywood


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film making

Exactly a year ago IBM Originals pre-screened our first feature length documentary Code and Response to a packed room at Brand Storytelling at the annual Sundance Film Festival. The movie shined a spotlight on the increasing global problem of natural disasters and how a group of unlikely heroes, “coders” emerged as a new type of first responder armed with empathy and technology to find solutions. And while the story we told was new, the idea of Tech for Good has been embedded in our DNA over the last 100 years. Technology has done a lot of good for the world. But we have the power to do so much more, together.

After taking Code and Response on the road to other screenings and festivals we became aware that some towns in Texas were still feeling the devasting effects of Hurricane Harvey. Two years after the waters had long subsided, thousands of Texans were still wading through endless amounts of paperwork and claims needed to rebuild their homes and businesses; dealing with a relief system viewed by many as mired in latency, miscommunication and lack of collaboration.

Learn how innovative companies and individuals use blockchain for social good

Tech for Good in action

We also learned that members of the blockchain team had built a solution that might have helped these people recover much faster. After some initial story hunting, we found that the lead designer of the project, Chelsey Delaney was from a small town on the Gulf Coast where Harvey actually came ashore and that her family lived through the nightmare of the storm and aftermath that followed. This was a story that needed to be told so we made a documentary about the more human side of blockchain, Bonds of Trust: The Future of Disaster Relief and brought it back to Sundance this year.

There is a great line and insight in the film from Chelsey that jumps out at you, “People need to talk less about what blockchain technology is, and more about what it can do for people.” This is so true about the power blockchain, AI or any other technology for that matter. Take our audience of media folks and filmmakers at Sundance for example, how can blockchain impact the future of the film industry itself?

A changing industry

Here are just a few current challenges in the industry and how blockchain could help:

The goal of many Indie filmmakers at Sundance is to score a distribution deal. Blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize the traditional Hollywood studio model enabling new models for distribution and funding.

Digital rights management
Content creators, studios and streaming services invest vast sums of money in the movies and other digital content they produce — and sometimes struggle to limit access to paying customers. With blockchain, content owners can embed user constraints for content access, reinforcing authentication and enabling monetization of digital content.

I have read about royalty settlements for rights-managed music or film footage that can take up to a year without proper tracking. Blockchain can help create an ecosystem of trust, enabling all parties to understand when and where digital content is used for more efficient tracking.

A special sneak preview

I hope audiences enjoy the film and I’m excited how people will start looking at blockchain technology in a new light as we continue to put smart to work. Enjoy this preview:

Bonds of Trust will screen on Saturday, January 25th at Brand Storytelling 2020, a sanctioned event of the Sundance Film Festival.

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