Decentralized Futures Proposal:
Follow-up web documentary series to ‘Behind the Code’
( Please see pdf for post with more links)
If you’re here reading this hopefully most of you will agree that the decentralized futures initiative is a pretty bold but necessary move. Reading these proposals over the last weeks and seeing what looks to me like an overwhelmingly positive response, I’d like to propose an idea to the community - that is to create a documentary series that documents this journey into decentralization over the next year.
I sketch out the broad details of my idea below and what benefits I think it can bring but I will be expanding this into a full proposal over the next weeks so would really welcome some feedback, thoughts and chances to discuss collaborations.
For those of you who don’t know me, first let me introduce myself. My name is Simon Hipkins, and I run a production company called Key Pictures which makes high quality television documentaries. I’ve also been documenting the Polkadot story from its very beginning and have been at pretty much every major event since the ideas launch in Ibiza in 2017 right up to the recent decentralization announcement in October this year.
Back in early 2017, I was asked by the Web3 foundation to start filming and documenting the development of what was to become Polkadot. This filming carried on for a few years until around about 2019 when I suggested I make a series of films with all this material to help explain the technology to the outside world - this resulted in me producing and directing the ‘Polkadot: Behind the Code’ series. These videos were released from 2020-21 and proved to be very popular. (I’ve been told by some of the OGs they were the best marketing materials ever produced for Polkadot - all made in decentralized fashion!). Even today, they have the highest engagement out of all Polkadot videos on youtube. Current views for the three episodes run at over 300k, with over 700 comments - overwhelmingly positive about the films and Polkadot.
Looking back on them I think their success lay in the fact that we didn’t set out to make them with a preconceived idea or marketing/brand strategy in mind - instead we did what documentary makers do - observed, captured and articulated an unfolding story.
Good storytelling is the foundation of any successful marketing campaign, so when I heard about the plan to kickstart Polkadot’s decentralization process it made me want to capture what happens and explain the next part of Polkadot’s story.
The result is hopefully a new series that can capture people’s imagination and inspire them to believe in Polkadot as iteration 2.0 emerges and it moves towards a decentralized future.
Polkadot: Decentralizing the Future
‘Polkadot: Decentralizing the Future’ will be a series of 4 films of 7-10 minutes each, charting the story of the next stage of Polkadot’s evolution as it attempts to both further decentralize its development and build the new Polkadot 2.0 technology stack.
A follow up to the ‘Polkadot: Behind the Code’, this new series will follow successful teams from the Decentralized Futures program as they embark on this bold socio-economic endeavour to help build, evolve and market a technology as a decentralized structure. We will chart the challenges for the teams/participants and document the impact for Polkadot.
In parallel each episode will gradually explain the emerging 2.0 technology stack and explore the reasons why decentralization is central to its success.
The project itself will also generate a steady stream of high quality video clips and content that marketing teams can employ throughout the year.
Each short film will be produced as a self-contained short documentary to high standard resembling more a Netflix documentary than social media / youtube content. As we did with ‘Polkadot: Behind the Code’, there will be an emphasis on making the storytelling accessible as possible to a non-blockchain literate audience.
The films will be released quarterly from April 2024 to January 2025 and will be crafted to make accessible, entertaining and informative viewing that:
inspire and encourage new people to invest, use and build on Polkadot.
allows the Polkadot community to better understand the process and benefits delivered by decentralization.
break down and explain simply the possibilities of the emerging 2.0 tech stack.
demonstrates the role decentralization plays in implementing that tech stack and how it enables a more effective approach to building long-term technologies.
distinguishes Polkadot from rival technologies.
Social Media Reversioning
In addition to the above from each film we will create 3 x 30 second trailers/extracts that can be employed on social media to tease the films and push out their messaging to a wider audience.
The proposed dates for each premiere will be as follows:
Episode 01: April 15 2025
Episode 02: June 17 2025
Episode 03: September 16 2025
Episode 04: Jan 13 2025
As an added benefit - we also intend to use this project to produce spin off content:
Video Content Repo for Marketing Teams
On a rolling basis throughout production, high quality short clips from the interviews and filming will be made readily accessible to the decentralized marketing teams via a cloud repository. This content can then be employed for effective quick-turn around social media and marketing.
Educational Content Repo - Raw rushes, transcripts of interviews
After each film’s release the full raw rushes will be made available to future teams building educational resources. This is something we did with the ‘Behind the Code’ Series - releasing some 30+ hours of rushes and transcripts to the Web3 foundation who were then able to use the material to help create their ‘EdX Web3x: Introduction to Polkadot series’. In a similar way a future educational series about working in decentralized structures could draw on the material we generate for this new series.
We have already had a number of conversations with different teams who are proposing initiatives through the ‘De-centralized Futures’ program and who are open to collaborating with us on the project.
We will also be supporting WebZero with the documentation of their hacker house project and this will provide an ideal opportunity to capture exciting new projects being developed and built with the Polkadot tech stack. We also envisage attending and filming at many of the key events where the Polkadot community will have a strong presence throughout the year, as well as visiting key teams to carry out additional filming/interviews.
Having been around in the ecosystem for so long we also know many of the key figures, are familiar with the technology and have a proven track record conducting thought provoking and engaging interviews with blockchain developers and advocates.
We are also envisage working in partnership with the de-centralized marketing structure that emerges over the next months and are already thinking about how the work we do can add value to the ecosystem as a whole, e.g. the ideas of creating video content repos that can be drawn upon for marketing and educational materials.
We welcome feedback and conversations as we draw up our proposal for the series.
Simon Hipkins is a producer / director, photographer and cinematographer with 20+ years experience in broadcast production. Over his career he has worked for the BBC, Channel NewsAsia, Discovery Networks, Channel Four (UK) and Al Jazeera. Having started his career as a photographer and film editor, Simon takes great pride in creating films that create strong well thought out stories driven by dynamic images. As a photographer his work has been widely published and his work was selected by Magenta Foundation Flash Forward photography collection. He became interested in blockchain when he made 4 x 60mins TV series called ‘Inside the Cryptokingdom’ (CNA 2018).
Through his company KEY PICTURES, Simon has also been working in a decentralized way to support the development of Polkadot since its very conception - filming, photographing and interviewing key players since 2017. At his initiative he used some of the material to create the ‘Polkadot: Behind the Code’ series (2019-21) which he produced and directed. This 3 part short documentary was aimed at communicating the story of Polkadot to a wider audience and is still some of the most widely viewed video content on Polkadot today.
In addition, Key Pictures produced both the online versions of Polkadot Decoded and Sub0 during 2021 - working in the difficult circumstances of Covid-19 pandemic to organize the creation of studios in New York, Berlin and London.
Key Pictures has also provided filming and photography services for numerous Polkadot events over the years, produced an innovative NFT series and helped document the first Polkadot Blockchain Academy and produced a promotion film to inspire applicants for future academies.
Matthew da Silva is a producer, writer and distribution manager with over ten years’ experience in the film and TV industry. Originally based in Toronto, Canada, he has worked on documentaries that tackle cross-cultural issues and emerging scientific discoveries, researching, writing, overseeing and managing productions across North and South America, Europe and Asia for the CBC, TVO, Super Channel and Channel NewsAsia.
He is adept at understanding the bigger production picture, from development to distribution, and has coordinated distribution deals with TVF International, Off The Fence and Blue Ant Media. He has worked for Key Pictures since 2019 and was a central part of the team creating the Behind the Code series and providing services to Polkadot over the years - including climbing on the roof of our temporary studio in Red Hook, New York to improvise a better internet connection using the NYC mesh for Decoded 2021. Matthew is currently completing his PhD in sociology at the University of Lisbon.
In addition we will bringing back on board key team members from the Behind the Code series;
Composer, David McAulay / Leif Wyn whose original music was widely praised and highly experienced documentary editor, Mariko Montpetit who films have been Oscar nominated.
We are also in discussion with several figures from the community about them acting as Executive Producers - i.e. people who can look over the treatments / watch the rough cuts and provide critical feedback. For the sake of balance our plan is to have one EP who works at a more grass roots level and another who is in more of a business development position.
In total we imagine the total work for this entire series and the video/educational content repo will equate to around 2.5 FTEs to be shared by 6-7 freelancers hired for the different aspects of the production/post production.