In 2008, Randall Miller wrote and directed a dramatic-comedy based on the now-famous wine making region of California — the Napa Valley. Starring Chris Pine, Alan Rickman, and Bill Pullman, the film is based on the true story of a wine competition held in France where wineries from Napa Valley shocked the world by beating out top French wines in a blind-tasting test.
The competition known as “Judgment of Paris” revealed once and for all that French wines are not unbeatable. Today, ‘Bottle Shock‘ is considered one of the best “wine movies” ever made, and it has been viewed by millions of wine lovers around the world.
Notably, Miller and his team originally created the film as an independent, low-budget film shot on 35mm cameras, where investors in the movie were offered a 110% return on investment — after which profits were shared 50/50 between investors and talent.
Now Miller is turning once again to non-traditional ways to raise money. This time, he’s using Web3 and NFT technology to transform the beloved classic into a 3D animated picture.
Last week, we were lucky enough to catch up with the visionary director to talk about his plans for the ‘Bottle Shock‘ remix, and how he hopes Web3 can help him and his team reach their goals.
Check it out.
Tell us a little back story about ‘Bottle Shock.‘ It’s been called the best wine film of all time. Did you expect it to be so successful, and did anything surprise you about the world’s reaction to the film?
When you make a film, you hope for success, but you never really know until you put it in front of an audience. Jody and I wrote the screenplay, raised the money, hired everyone, made the film, but when we were accepted to Sundance we knew the film had a chance. Multiple standing ovations — it was brilliant.
Obviously, Alan Rickman’s performance is truly inspiring. I guess the biggest surprise is the staying power of the film. It has been seen by tens of millions all over the world and continues to play at the top of Amazon. To this day, we still get asked to speak about the film. Starting from sitting in our house writing the screenplay on our computer to the worldwide success of this little film has been an amazing thing to witness.
Tell us about the upcoming project you’re working on. How did the idea arrive and why are you excited about it?
About two years ago, I reconnected with a friend from USC film school, Michael Davis (‘Shoot Em Up,‘ ‘Eight Days A Week,‘ ‘100 Girls‘), a talented film director and animator. I had seen a new animated film of his called ‘Nixed‘ that premiered at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival. I helped him get that film to market.
We started talking about doing an animated film together and began discussing possibilities. I said, “Have you thought about taking an existing film and turning it into its animated counterpart?”
Many times people have done the opposite — gone from animated, comic book to live action, but never the other way around. Recently, adult animation has taken off, with more complex stories that play on Netflix and so on, so I said why not ‘Bottle Shock?‘ The performances are already great, the audience loves it, the colors and feel of wine country makes for a beautiful backdrop. I said let’s do some tests. So that’s what we did.
What do you think Web3 can do for this project?
I’m all about new ways to finance projects. The old models are broken. Waiting for one or two people to deem your project worthy just doesn’t work for me. By leveraging Funded’s model, I can do something unique. It allows me to offer thousands of people a chance to be involved in backing the film. Because, as I see it, that basically mirrors what happened with the original ‘Bottle Shock‘ film itself — from this little film we generated a gigantic audience.
With Web3, we can generate a large group of backers who then become owners in the project, and then through blockchain, we let them profit off the film’s success. I think if it works, it could revolutionize the way films are financed.
What are some of the issues directors and creators in the film industry face? Do you believe NFTs and Web3 tech can solve any of these problems? If so, explain.
Like I said, often in Hollywood as a creative we have to shape our content to what the studio or streamer deems commercial. They are individuals often chasing trends, so they don’t always make great choices. And, as a filmmaker, the best ideas are often outside the box. What Web3 can do is connect an idea or a filmmaker with a crazy idea with a larger group of people and go directly to them for funding instead of begging the same two or three studio heads to embrace your project.
Additionally, the Internet Computer, which is the blockchain Funded was initially developed on, already has a diverse and enthusiastic community that actively participates in or even governs many decentralized projects.
Explain how fractional ownership will work. Why did you decide to do it this way?
The film, ‘Bottle Shock – The Animated Film,‘ will cost $1.5M USD to produce. We have been raising funds through traditional sources and continue to do so, but the entire budget is $1.5M.
For simplicity, let’s say the full budget comes from this blockchain funding model. When the film returns the full $1.5M (after fees the distributor takes), that is sent directly to the blockchain investors in the first position (equal to how much they purchased — it is very clearly outlined at bottleshockanimated.com).
After the initial investment is paid back, all profits after the $1.5M are split; 50% to the blockchain investors and 50% to the creatives (the actors, directors, writers, producers). It is very simple, very straightforward.
Why animate an old film? What are the benefits? What are you looking to do?
The film has a huge audience built over 15 years — millions and millions all over the world. There is a huge name recognition in the marketplace, so there will be a tremendous amount of interest in this new version. I believe it will play at festivals and make as much or possibly a lot more than the original film financially. And, if so, then when we pay back these investors, we will become a bellwether of a new financing model in Hollywood.
Where will people be able to see the 3D animated version of the film?
Every place the original played — theatrically worldwide, Netflix, Amazon, airlines, television. ‘Bottle Shock‘ plays everywhere even today (do a Google search and you’ll see). To give you one example: ‘Bottle Shock‘ was one of the most successful indie films that ever played on the airlines. I think the same thing could happen again.
Why did you decide to work with Funded and not a traditional crowdfunding platform? Can you tell us a little about the platform?
Funded is new, but the tech they have is very solid. I had my tech partners at MacNerd and MacGuyver Tech look into the backend and they really liked what they saw. Most traditional crowdfunding sites don’t allow for fractional ownership. I had been looking for something like this. It’s an experiment for me, but I think it can work if we can get the plan out to the world.
Additionally, Funded has previously received a $100,000 grant from The DFINITY Foundation, a major not-for-profit contributor to the Internet Computer blockchain. Apart from being the fastest general-purpose decentralized network on the market today, it is also well-known for its community-centric approach.
For instance, the Internet Computer, which Funded was initially built on, has a unique DAO model, called Service Nervous System, that combines crowdfunding and decentralized governance. This framework enables communities to manage a decentralized application in its entirety, allowing crowd funders to become shareholders as well. This is very much in line with Funded’s own approach where people can not only finance a project but also share its future profits.
If this funding mission is a success, would you consider funding future films using Web3 and NFTs? Are there any plans in the works for Web3 film projects?
Yes, exactly. This is what I have been thinking about. How to move further into Web3, to use this for film financing and eventually film distribution as well. The problem is that people are used to traditional viewing models. But as we have seen with streamers in the past five years, people love to watch content on their own whenever or wherever they are.
I think Web3 is the next generation of this global shift. I think it could be the portal that takes people to the content, thus eliminating the need for so many gatekeepers all over the world, all the middle men. I’m all about helping creatives and content makers to get their work directly to the public and be able to make a decent living doing it. Eventually, Web3 will help make this happen.
What do you think is the future of Web3 in the film industry?
Like I said above, it could be a game-changer. The term NFT has gotten a bad rap lately, but the tech to use an NFT as a receipt of ownership of a fraction of a real world project is what excites me. That is the revolutionary aspect here. If the NFT isn’t just about some intangible piece of artwork but has a real-world value, then the system really works. The blockchain is sound, and the tech really works.
Movies are funny because they often start with someone writing down an idea in a script form all alone. Then that person has to convince someone else that that script is worthy and it grows and so on. Then, when a film becomes a success all those people who doubted it in the beginning, suddenly claim they always loved the idea from the start.
But it always starts small and grows. I’ve seen it many times over my career. I see this process the same way, at first people will doubt it, they will poo poo NFTs as a scam, but then eventually something like this comes along, a real-world purpose, and boom — it all changes.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Watch the original ‘Bottle Shock‘ with Alan Rickman, Chris Pine, Bill Pullman, Freddie Rodriguez, Rachael Taylor, Eliza Dushku and Dennis Farina and now imagine all of those color characters fully animated and, at times, singing. It’s gonna be a blast! And if you invest, you may end up being a producer on the film. What’s cooler than that?
Thanks for speaking with Rarity Sniper!
“Bottle Shock – The Animated Film“ aims to raise $1,500,000 (924 ETH) through the new Web3 crowdfunding platform Funded. NFTs are priced in varying tiers, beginning at 0.539 ETH. For more information on the details of the project, check out Funded.app’s website.
For more articles about how Web3 is changing the film industry, check out our most recent deep dive: