13 February 2023 12:55, UTC
Reading time: ~4 m
Nouns, an open-source intellectual property (IP) based around a series of Ethereum NFTs, is expanding into TV with “The Nouners,” an animated series for adults. And the series, which comes from independent creators and was initially funded through a grant from the Nouns DAO community, is sticking to its roots by selling the pilot episode through an NFT access pass.
“The Nouners” taps into the Nouns project’s colorful pixel characters—which are based on a wide array of items and creatures, all with boxy glasses (or “Noggles”)—to deliver a cartoon targeted at mature audiences. The absurdist vibe recalls offbeat hits like “South Park,” “Robot Chicken,” and “Aqua Teen Hunger Force.”
With a lo-fi look to match the pixel avatars, the 11-minute pilot episode takes a decidedly meta approach, showing creators pitch varying projects to try and propagate the Nouns brand. Only here, they’re pitching to an all-powerful being with a “Wizard of Oz” type twist in the mix—plus ample profanity, sex, drugs, and other adult content along the way.
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In reality, “The Nouners” was pitched to the Nouns DAO—the collective (or decentralized autonomous organization) of Nouns NFT owners that control a treasury of nearly $43 million worth of ETH as of this writing. That treasury helps fund projects, including toys, comic books, a parade float, and brand partnerships, among many other initiatives.
“The Nouners” hails from Executive Producer Mike Rekola and collaborators, who created a one-minute animatic and proposed the project to the DAO last August. Nouns was made using a Creative Commons 0 (CC0) license, so anyone can tap into the IP and create a project like this without the DAO’s approval. It’s fully open source.
However, in this case, the DAO approved the $15,000 USDC request via its Small Grants committee to fund the pilot episode. Co-showrunner Sean Flanagan told Decrypt that the experience of navigating the DAO proposal process and interacting with pseudonymous internet people helped inform the storyline of the pilot episode.
“It was complicated navigating the waters of an organization of faceless people around the world,” he said, contrasting it to the traditional film world. “This process was very mysterious and new—which is what led to the creation of the Wizard of Nouns in our pilot. We were making educated guesses based on the voice of a man behind a curtain. This became the inspiration.”
Rekola said that his team made a relatively modest ask for the pilot episode funding after seeing other creators request hundreds of thousands of dollars for things like Nouns-based story bibles and animatics—”anything but a finished product,” in his view.
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The pilot episode of “The Nouners” is indeed finished, but you’ll need an NFT access pass to enter the token-gated portal and stream the video. The pass costs 0.003 ETH—less than $5 worth at present—and Rekola said that they’ll need to sell 3,200 of the NFTs to fund the completion of the second episode, which is already halfway done.
The pilot, with a Nouns-based and Nouns-funded episode about Nouns and the funding process, feels ready-made for an entrenched audience of Web3 enthusiasts. However, Rekola said that future episodes will explore a wider array of subjects and not be quite so meta.
Like so many of the projects that Nouns DAO has funded to date, “The Nouners” is an experiment—and its creators are eager to see how it lands with viewers and whether there’s enough demand for the next episode, let alone a full season.
It’s also another test in the growing Film3 world to see how Web3 technology can help fund and bring creative projects to life in various ways. In this case, it’s also built around a decentralized property that many people are collectively growing through their own creations. To Rekola, Nouns is a wide-open playground full of creative possibilities.
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“Nouns is an ideal partner for the show because its IP is undefined, CC0, and fully ripe for exploration,” Rekola told Decrypt. “Nouns aren’t limited to kids, nor crypto bros. All are welcome in the Nouns community. This is why the Web3 space is amazing. No legacy media company would ever let random filmmakers have fun with their brand.”
“Do you think Disney would ever let us have the chance to experiment and make a mature audience-themed Mickey Mouse cartoon? I don’t think so,” he added. “But Nouns would.”