The NFT metaverse continues to establish new homes for various art-driven communities. It’s no surprise that the entertainment industry has found its way into the NFT ecosystem. Joining our hosts, Jeff Kelley, Eathan Janney, and Josh Kriger today are House of Kibaa associates Dorian Banks and Aleks Paunovic. Dorian Banks is the CEO of Looking Glass Slabs, which owns House of Kibaa, while Aleks Paunovic is the executive producer of the GenZeroes series powered by House of Kibaa. They sit with us today to share how live-action and television films are slowly penetrating into the NFT world. Listen in and learn how this transition proves to be a great asset for both the NFT and film industries.
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Dorian Banks (House Of Kebaa/Looking Glass Labs) & Aleks Paunovic (Gen Zeroes Actor/Exec Producer), Plus Musk’s Maybe Bored Ape, Minecraft In Web3, And More….
NFT curious reader, stay tuned for this episode and find out how GenZeroes is totally turning what it means to be a TV show on its head.
What bringing joy and perseverance means to our guests.
Why traditional and Web3 gaming are more similar than many people think, all this and more on this episode. Enjoy. Remember, NFT LA is coming from March 28 to 31, 2022. It will be an unforgettable experience featuring the crème de la crème in the NFT space. Head on over to NFTLA.live to get your tickets as early as possible for the best pricing.
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This episode features Dorian Banks, CEO of Looking Glass Labs, which owns House of Kibaa and Aleks Paunovic, actor and executive producer on the GenZeroes series, which is being produced by House of Kibaa. Let’s talk about each of them. Dorian is a lifelong international entrepreneur which focuses on technology, blockchain and agritech. Notably, he has built companies from the ground up in wireless technologies, mobile phone gaming and apps, large-scale plantations, UAV technology, 3D printing and cryptocurrency mining.
He has served as a senior executive and/or board member of more than a dozen publicly traded companies over the past decades, arranging financings from some of the largest global banks. Aleks Paunovic was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He has been an actor for many years. We checked your IMDb, Aleks, with a lot of wonderful credits. We would love to start by giving you a chance to highlight some of the things that you think are most relevant here.
I have been acting for many years. I also have an extensive boxing background. I have three generations of boxers in my family. I also played music for many years and toured the country. I was playing on stage one day and a casting director asked if I wanted to audition for a role and I did. I ended up falling in love with the craft and I started late. I thought it started in my mid-30s. I’m going to acting class with kids that are twenty years younger but I had the drive and I wanted to tell stories. Most of the gigs started coming my way more because I’m 6’5 and 260.
I was always in the tough-guy roles. I wanted to branch out in that kind of stuff so I started trying to make and produce my own things where I could show more than just the physical. I feel like I had a very lucky and great career. I’m about to shoot Season 4 of Snowpiercer. I finished five years of a show called Van Helsing. We finished part of the MCU, which we did Hawkeye on Disney+ and Marvel. The thing that I’m extremely proud of is being a part of GenZeroes and the NFT aspect of creation. I also am fortunate enough to be a part of a project that Rick Dugdale, who is the President of Enderby Entertainment.When you enjoy the work that you're doing, your creativity opens up more. Click To Tweet
He and I, along with others, did the very first Hollywood scripted NFT film, starring Anthony Hopkins. We are stoked that we have gotten to the point where it did so well as a drop on an NFT that we are now doing the 2nd and 3rd ones. We have made this project called Zero Contact into a franchise. It is very exciting to be in the NFT market. I still have so much to learn about the NFTs, which is one of the reasons why I wanted to jump on here and get an education more than anything, knowing how NFTs and entertainment, especially live-action television and film, are artists-driven communities along with the consumer being a part of it and more than ever than is ever happened before. That to me is huge of being a part of this.
We have House of Kibaa and Looking Glass Labs. Let’s take a step back. Let’s talk origin story. Where did the ideas come from? How did all this evolve?
It started with a couple of founders. Jason is the main founder and the younger guys that committed the 3D and movie special effects space. They probably did the first-ever allow list pass. it is called the Genesis membership. They sold for $500. We took PayPal for them, trying to onboard the NBA Top Shots people because they were buying with credit cards. We thought that was a good way to get people into it. They were trying to sell 3,000 and 809 sold but they made the commitment they would burn the rest they did. There are 809 of these Genesis passes. Now they are selling it for between $15,000 and $22,000 approximately.
There are only 809 and every month you get a drop-off, you either get put on some other allow list or you get another NFT to drop your wallet. For instance, in January 2022, you got on the loudest for Hypebeast. If you sold pre-reveal, you got $30,000 airdropped on you just for holding our Genesis membership. They have been quite popular. It went through the summer. They kept building and then they started looking for some more C-level business guys.
I was dug up along with a couple of other people. We came on board and started organizing as a company and looking towards maybe going on the stock exchange because, in Canada, that is a very common way to raise venture capital. By the fall, we did our GenZeroes drop 10,000 of those, raised about $5.5 million in about 40 minutes. It was very popular. We started developing a backstory behind the GenZeroes. This is where it is evolved to, this GenZeroes live-action TV series. We did take the company public, Looking Glass Labs. That is the parent company of House Of Kibaa.
It is trading on the primary tech exchange in Canada called the NEO. If we want to do mergers and acquisitions down the road, we have built up a legacy there. We can go and raise money rapidly if we want to, let’s say, buy a movie studio or a 3D effects house. It is a land grab in the 3D world, which is warehouse keyboards, all fully made averse ready 3D rendered, built an unreal engine five-ready. It is super high-rise stuff. All of our production is always that. If you want me to do Gutter Cat or Bored Ape Yacht Club we did contract work, it is all unreal engine-based.
It is a little bit of a sequitur but what about holograms? Where do they fit into the mix?
They are not yet. We have been talking about augmented reality, though, quite a bit, where you can hold up the phone and look at your screen. You will see your GenZero in 3D on the table, on the ground or whatever. We have been working on that.
It is an endless supply of potential NFT projects in this space and many exciting possibilities. How do you navigate the process of choosing what to do next in the space?
I always say that one day in the NFP space is 30 days in real business. The stuff keeps flying at us. I said on an investor call that we don’t even have a biz dev person working for us because the stuff keeps flying in. I’m talking about third-party requests for work. We are building the Gutter Mansion for Gutter Cat Gang. Stuff like that comes inbound to us. They say, “We would love for you guys to build this for us,” but now we have got too much of that. We get to pick the level stuff for the stuff. Our guys are excited about the stuff that we know isn’t going to take too many cycles or they are going to burn our crew or overload us.
Now we choose and pick for the third party work. For our own work, we are focused on the GenZeroes series and the NFTs around that. Each of the actors will have an NFT based around them and their half-robot look. Those will come out along with each drop of the show of the ten chapters. Our guys are working hard on that. We are working towards our land sale coming up so that is a big thing. That is a very different type of land sale than you have seen.
It is not this traditional top-down map thing. It is a very unique aspect to it, which is going to surprise a lot of people. After that, we have got our token coming out and that is for our Metaverse and plus our play-to-earn game. It is a GenZero battle game where you battle somebody else out there in the world with their GenZero, you get points and then eventually, you can enter tournaments and earn tokens by entering and winning those.
On the land side, there are a lot of other land projects out there. I’m sure you have looked at them and you are thinking about how you can differentiate. Could you talk a little bit about that briefly?
I don’t want to drop too much because it is extremely unique but one thing we focused heavily on was, I want to say, privacy but we want each person that has owns their land to be able to control it. We don’t want it to be full of trolls and people doing crazy stuff. For lack of better words, we almost want there to be an allow list for your land. You are going to have a lot more control over it.Just roll the dice and go with it. Click To Tweet
Facebook has tried to solve this troll issue. They put a 2-meter boundary around your avatar so you can’t get groped. That was the story I read. We are trying to solve it in a different way where you can do an almost allow list for your space, you can say which wallet addresses are allowed to come and visit there or you can choose.
It is where you want to grow up.
It is chosen real thing. That is the B2C land. Us being the business, see the consumer, the individual buying their 4 acres or whatever is going to be then we will have a B2B land sale after that. That will be if Tesla wants to throw up a skyscraper and a racetrack. That is going to be a bit more interesting because I do believe that we are going to see an influx of real-world developers come onto that land that is B2C land. That is because they are probably going to be able to develop it in different segments and then sell segments of that B2C land. I’m probably giving away a bit too much but it is pretty unique.
Thank you for giving away a bit too much. We appreciate that. We will get more out of you but let’s put some pressure on Aleks. What got you pumped about doing projects in this space? What flipped the switch for you?
It is always about relationships for me and who the people are that are approaching me. Being in this industry, you get approached to do different types of projects and favors for projects, especially talking with Neil and Rick. Rick Dugdale, I can’t say enough about it but Neil Stephenson is the man that is the one that got me on the project to executive produce and got the team together to build what we have built with GenZeroes. The idea of what made it interesting to me, what attracted me to it is I feel like I build my brand in more of an aspect of the audience and community. I love being on Twitter and talking to them.
I’m not a big cameo guy because I just love sending videos to the fans that are asking for a birthday wish here and there. I love connecting in that way. Even on set, that to me is keeping the levels up high and enjoying the work that we are doing. I feel like when you enjoy the work that you are doing, the creativity opens up that much more.
With the NFT space, the idea is that it is artist-driven and we can control the product we want to put out there with the consumer’s help, guiding us in those ways and having them being a part of it. I do a lot of sci-fi films in television and they are the most devoted fan base in the entertainment industry. That is why stuff like Comi-Con are such huge hits because they are so passionate fans.
For us to be doing a sci-fi show in the NFT platform and as opposed to in the Comi-Cons now, people get excited to go dress up as their favorite character like a Star Wars character then they meet someone. That is basically the boundary between the fan and the artist. In this space, we are doing this together. We are a community and a team.
We are trying to build something and we are getting feedback on it. We were able to give it back and tenfold in many different branches of the tree to the consumer, fan and fractional ownership of it. That drives me. That makes that fun for us because a lot of series work is done through a corporate office and people that have not been on the ground floor.
There have been many times I have seen pilots or have read pilots and watched pilots, been a part of pilots that you are sitting there going, “This is going to go. How can this not go? This is such an amazing show.” For some reason, in the head top of the office, where jobs get switched, they drop the projects and bringing in their own projects and an amazing show can just literally get lost in the ether like that. With this aspect of it, we have control of how far and how deep we want to take a show. That is all to the credit of the audience in the community, helping us make those decisions.
I happened to be watching a documentary about rested development. It is one of those shows which holds its very interesting place among the corporate structure or rating structure around shows how that all gets developed. One of the things they are highlighting in the documentary was the intensity of the people who were watching or die-hard fans. The people that were creating it were passionate about what they were creating. It is interesting to think about what they might do in the NFT space. I wonder if they are cooking something up. We’ll have to get some intel.
I could add on to what Aleks said, specifically referencing a guardian article that came out about our GenZeroes series after Deadline broke the original announcement of the series coming up.
That was such an interesting thing because Deadline is a very hard publication to get into because it is only specific Hollywood announcements that happened on everything. We did two Deadline articles, which alone is a hard thing to get because there are many productions that want to get in there but both articles went viral, not because of who was a part of it, more or less but it was a part of the NFT platform with the sci-fi live-action community. We were in the Uganda Tribune. There were over 200 publications that picked up both those deadline articles and it went viral, which goes to show you that the world is ready for something very cool to happen in this space with sci-fi and live-action.
The Deadline thing was interesting, especially going viral. The Guardian newspaper in the UK picked it up and they wrote their own version of it. In the first paragraph, I believe they say something and I’m paraphrasing here like, “This might be the most important TV series ever made or the most important digital series ever made.” The reason is because, at the end of the day, we are trying to democratize entertainment.
We are trying to get rid of the black box of finance of a movie or TV series but no one knows what’s going on except the highest-level executives. I wonder where the cash is going, why there’s no profit or what’s happened to it. This is on the blockchain. We are selling NFTs to finance these pre-pilots instead of us showing up in Hollywood with a script in hand and some ideas, maybe a whiteboard saying, “This is what we want to build. Will you give us money?”
We are showing up with essentially pre-pilots already filmed professional actors, professional directors and writers that have worked on a lot of major projects, not of named projects. We are going to say, “These are series so far. How do you guys like it? Would you be interested in licensing it from us or buying an office?”
The cool thing about that is you go in and pitch a show. You could have your pitch deck and the guy pitching the show telling you how you got five seasons all planned out and then you literally have the boardroom making the decision going, “That is a pretty good idea. Let’s roll the dice and go with it.” Now what we are being able to do is not only showing them content and giving them the five-year plan of it but we are showing them the content, the five-year plan and the community that has backed it up and has put their ownership on it and wanting to be a part of it.
It is almost like how deep Game of Thrones got with many people wanting not only to follow the series and can’t wait for it but how is even the cosplay happens. We are being able to walk into a boardroom now and go, “Not only are we at this point and these are the actors that are a part of it,” as opposed to headshots saying that we could, could get these guys but the community that has pushed it because they believed in it also.
This is new Hollywood. Old Hollywood has developed scripts and how they did it for years and decades. Now we are literally on that break the way the web media started happening where no one ever thought they would watch a TV show on the internet, “What does that mean?” Now all these things are streaming and they are even making theaters such as Netflix theater. That kind of idea. We are on that brink where everyone is super confident that the NFT world is not going to go anywhere. What I love about it is it is artist-driven but just not for the actors.
For instance, when we were shooting, our wardrobe department and costume designer made these amazing costumes. They drew it out and showed us what it was. Our set designer drew the sets out. Those themselves can become NFTs to benefit the artists, as in the costume designer and the set designer. That, to me is so empowering and giving that now these creative people don’t just get to see them up there and the actor gets the accolades. They get to make some money and have fans of costumes, art and production design be a part of it.
There was a fabricated weapon. It was part of the one show. We looked at it and went, “That is an amazing look.” We talked about how it was made and about potentially selling the 3D printing model as an NFT. If you are a cosplayer and you want to print that weapon out or take it to Comic-Con. We also talked about selling NFTs for the actual physical item as well. It goes on and on but the crazy part about it is what we are doing here is we are pre-financing these pre pilots or the short pilots.
It sounds like an insane proposition for a full-length movie but isn’t. If you go and turn this into a full-length movie, we have already got the House of Kibaa audience plus we have got of those actors’ fans, the big fan base, “Two million social media on this account. Three million on this one.” We have got their Comic-Con audience that is fanatic. They are all going to come along for the ride. That is how we are able to do this on such a very low budget but we are able to pre-finance it, which is quite a twist.
The idea of live-action is the way we are going about it, which makes it so creative and fun for me is everyone has a certain experience with live-action. You can queue a piece of music to queue an emotion for you. People are generally in that little box when they are watching live-action of film where there’s an emotionality that they are trying to draw out of you or there’s a frustration that they are trying to draw out of you. It is done perfectly in live-action and film and television.
The second component in this as the new media is that were having a comic book. One scene flows right into probably an 8 page to 12-panel comic book, where we got to have this amazing illustrator Ben doing. What I love about that is that you are watching live-action and that everyone’s watching it the same way but when you read the comic book, when it literally flows into the pages of the comic book, you yourself are reading it the way you want to read it.
The other readers is reading it the way they want to read it. That is a slower pace, a higher pace, looking at the detail of the comic book. Now that you were enthralled in these pages of the live-action you saw. In my mind, the cadence of how I think he’s speaking in this then you go seamlessly into the next live-action scene and now you are viewing it that way.
I love the idea that the audience gets to experience it for their own enjoyment of how they like to consume art in that way. That is fantastic. The creative team here has been nothing but amazing. Matt Venables and Jeremy Smith, who are the showrunners and the writers of the show created a fantastic product and it is been exciting. I’m on like four hours of sleep but I’m still jazzed all about it. It is great.Experiencing something with a group of people creates a memory that will be owned among you forever. Click To Tweet
Is there anything else to tell us to share with our readers about GenZeroes, also the utility NFT concept and how that applies beyond GenZeroes? How else do you see that impacting the world?
I started using the term UNFT. I even applied for a trademark for it at one point. That is going to be the future. We all know that. You can still try to come up with these big projects that don’t have utility but it is very difficult unless you are a named artist or you are already successful artist, in my opinion. You are going to have some other utility. You are going to have this Diplo VIP pass type of thing for his gold level, NFTs who get on stage with him or whatever it is. Ticketmaster all fully turned into NFTs.
They probably won’t call them that but that is what it’ll essentially be. You will have this black and white ticket to go see the Lakers when the QR code gets scanned at the door, hits the blockchain. Maybe that turns into a full-color ticket now with an animation of a dunk or something like that, almost NBA Top Shot-ish. That is devastating. That is the innovation you have to see.
There’s still a massive area around luxury goods or goods that are scarce. For example, it might be a pair of Supreme sneakers. If you think about a pair of Supreme sneakers, let’s say they put out 10,000 or 5,000 pairs and they come out at $500. There’s this mad scramble. Everyone is waiting in line for two days or however they do it.
Supreme sells that sneaker for $500. That person takes it and throws it on eBay for $5,000. We have seen it where everything is. It doesn’t have to be Supreme. It could be any scares or luxury goods. Supreme sold that for $500 times 5,000 units. They didn’t see that lift between the $500 and $5,000 clearly, the scalper of the speaker, the result of the sneaker side.
Imagine, instead, they sell that as an NFT. Now there’s this $500 NFT out there. That person grabs it. They sell it for $1,000 or $2,000. Clearly, on the blockchain contract, you have got a 20% or 10% royalty. Let’s say it is a 20% royalty they throw on there and they sell it for $1,000. Now there’s $200 more back to Supreme. They were getting $700 for those sneakers. Now that NFT sells again for $3,000, they are getting another $600. Now they’ve got $1,300, $1,400 or $1,500 for that pair of sneakers instead of that $500.
There’s going to be a massive opportunity in there. It is going to flow into all luxury as Louis Vuitton and you are going to see Birkin bags coming out this way. It is because those people can go and claim a bit of that resell money. It is not just going to go to those flippers out there. You will even see it as vehicles come up like an Evie from Tesla and the first five were being sold by NFT. We are going to see a massive movement in that market first because it is low-hanging fruit, in my opinion.
That totally makes sense. That is why we are pumped about the industry.
For GenZeroes, there are so many utilities that we can have with it that even with cosplayers coming in. I’m learning this NFT world slowly but surely. I love the aspect because we basically have a scene in one of the pieces where a digital thing is put up against an actor’s head. We can almost be seeing a video message but he sees it with this scientific reader. He sees this thing but in the film, you will know what the message is because of the way the actors is playing it. It is not a good message that he’s listening to but as an NFT, people can see the message that he’s seeing and will drop.
To me, that is exciting, all these tiny little moments where you can watch things seamlessly without buying any NFTs or any utilities of it but if you want to get immersed by it, there are these little things that we have that we’ll go, “I want to see the message that he says? What did this character say to him?” That would be becoming NFT. It is one of those things that gets them totally immersed. As every fan, being a part of Marvel who has this amazing fan base, they always want a piece of something that is special. It makes them excited that they have that.
Even with Snowpiercer and Van Helsing, I have been fortunate enough to have some amazing fans but they always are looking for something very special and something that they can own. We are literally giving it to them and they are getting so much more from it. In this space, for me, it makes it so exciting because it is generous to the community and to the artists because we get to make the stuff that we want to make.
I will touch on one of their alpha besides what Aleks hit on there. That is, we are exploring the possibility of having a sort of DAO style concept, if not a full-blown DAO. That would be a way for fans to help decide story evolution or character evolution. In the simplest form, maybe choose your own adventure where the fans guide the story and guide what they want to happen. That would be through a voting mechanism through a DAO-style concept for GenZeroes holders. In the early days, it is also going through our legal counsel to make sure we are going to do property. It can be a rough road.
It is great because I got introduced to Dorian from Neil and Neil who brought us on. Neil is the one that had the vision of going, like, “We can go live-action. Let’s see if I can talk.” Neil and I have known each other for many years. We have always been friends but we never got a chance to work together because he was on a totally different road than I was. We finally get to meet and he has these amazing ideas. He is one of the best sellers of a product that you can talk to of the guy because he knows his work so well. He’s a bright guy. He introduced Dorian to me and getting to understand slowly through this actor had the NFT background. It is exciting.
You are in good company. When I had to slot Dorian, when we were thinking about the right panel for Dorian for NFT LA, it was difficult because you are all over the place. You are doing a little of everything. We had to stick you on the web free convergence panel because it is all-encompassing. We like to ask this question but in a lot of ways, you are pioneering this game.
What are some of the other NFP projects that you have looked for in the space for inspiration? Some of the projects that you admire are also doing cool things in the space. I will give a little shout out to our friend Neil Strauss, who also is doing some cool stuff when it comes to decentralizing, publishing and working as the writer Jenkins the Valet and some of the zone work that he’s put up to the community to vote on where things go from there as another example of what’s possible there.
You know a lot of the major projects like I do but there are some under-the-radar ones. We are here in Vancouver and this is a hotbed of Web3, having manifold only like two blocks away from us here. Shout out to Richard over there. They are producing just some of the best contracts ever. The way that they handle Pax drops is like art. Literally, their contract is art. I’m always blown away seeing his work or the man for its work. I love that they are sticking to their guns of only working with artists. They don’t want to work for B2B stuff. That is great.
One under-the-radar, one here in Vancouver as well is Monstercat records. They have their relics, which are essentially EDM songs that plug into their NFT jukebox. You throw in the jukebox, have it to your Metaverse, sitting there in your house and you can buy the relic, which is a track or an album. You plug them into the jukebox and now you can listen to your music there. I think that music is an under-the-radar possibility here in the NFT world.
I spoke with some entertainment lawyers and a very seasoned one said to me, “The craziest thing about the music industry and the contracts with our artists is I have never, in my life, seen one contract that contemplates the artists and music being sold in the Metaverse.” He believes it is wide open. He believes that an artist can enter a Web3 Metaverse and sell their own music directly to fans and it doesn’t affect the real-world contract. That is what he believes. He’s a big-time entertainment lawyer.
I would love to speak with him because I did moderate a panel at one point about this topic. I would have to say that the opposite of consensus was among the lawyers on that. This is uncharted waters. That is a very exciting possibility for artists.
It probably needs a legal test than a real no but I do like Monstercat and what they are doing with this jukebox concept and selling these tracks via relics as NFTs. That is very cool.
Thanks for putting us out. We were talking to someone that suing a TEDx in Vancouver and wants to do some more NFT content. I was going to plug them in with you. Maybe we will have to get over to Vancouver after NFT LA and hang out. It is beautiful over there. There are some big innovations going down in the NFP space as well. It is a great way to end this segment.
I appreciate all the information. For our readers, we always like to take a step back and take a different approach to ask some questions that we call Edge Quick Hitters. It is a fun, quick way to get to know you a little bit better. It is ten questions. We are looking for short, single-word or few-word responses but we may go a little deeper here or there. Are you ready to dive in on this?
Let’s do it.
Question number one, Dorian, for you. What is the first thing you remember ever purchasing in your life?
I remember outside of candy as a child, which I don’t really remember. I wasn’t allowed to buy it. I would say probably an LP and that would most likely be Supertramp Breakfast in America. If not, it would have been Genesis.
Aleks, question to you, what is the first thing you remember ever purchasing in your life?
I was five years old. Two doors down for being was a building that made. I grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba and where it is very cold in the football stadium outside. There is a Canadian football league. It was hard seats but this company next door to me would make these foam Frisbees with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers logo on them.
I thought that was cool because not only as a five-year-old can you throw a Frisbee and hit your buddy in the head, not hurt and not get in trouble? That was the first thing that I bought. They were giving them away at the stadium but I wanted to buy them. I gave him $0.05 and he accepted by $0.05 then I got the little seat but little bum warmer. I thought it was the best thing ever. That was the first thing I got.
Question number two, Dorian. What is the first thing you remember ever selling in your life?
It is probably something that was stolen by one of my friends. It is a Swatch. I had these friends that they would go and I assume they would run into the department store and take the rack or something because they had many Swatches. I knew somebody that wanted one.
Aleks, how about you?
I’m a North and Winnipeg kid. I grew up in the rough part of town. The only thing we had was like we played those little marble games. You get in a mesh bag and they are called Crocs, which were big ones and then the little marbles. I sold that for a couple of bucks to a buddy of mine only because I had stolen another bag that I had. I basically sold him something that I already had. He didn’t think I did but that was the first thing I remember selling. I remember it so well is because I knew I did something bad because I was selling him something that was basically stolen.
Question three, what is the most recent thing you purchased, Dorian?
It is probably quite mundane. It is going to be dog food. It is oddly expensive, though.
You can make hunting dogs hunt for their own food.
Aleks, how about you?
These pants. I got these pants from the wardrobe when we were shooting because I liked them and I bought them back so they didn’t have to return them.
Question number four. Dorian, what is the most recent thing you sold?
A Damien Hirst NFT, The Currency. Remember that one with all the colored dots? I was a little bit sad. I was thinking about getting the physical.You need to let go of the fear of looking dumb. You need to get vulnerable and get real with yourself. Click To Tweet
Aleks, how about you?
I’m not in the world as deep as you guys. That would have been the easy one if I had my wallet happening but then I remembered the last thing I sold was my bass guitar. It was a Fender Precision to a buddy of mine who was recording and he loved the sound of it and the way that it hit the pickups. I decided to buy another bass. I sold him this bass and then I regretted it because I had it for fifteen years. I missed that sound. Ryan Doll, if you are out there, I want my bass back.
We got a lot of sellers’ remorse here. Question five, Dorian. What is your most prized possession?
It is my dog. I’m single. I have just him with me all the time. It is probably the most important thing I have.
Aleks, I know what it isn’t. It is not that bass guitar. You don’t have it anymore. What do you got?
It is a picture because I come from a boxing background in Muhammad Ali, like everyone else’s. They are here. I always had this thing where I never wanted to meet him, like him coming into an airport and everyone was around and then I just see him. I never wanted that. If I was ever going to meet him, I wanted it to be special or else I didn’t want to meet him. I was that much of a Muhammad Ali fan. I could go on ever about Ali but I had an opportunity where there was a film called Raising Ali and Being Ali.
It was made by a Vancouver director and they had a party for him here. It was a charity dinner party. I was training. At that time, I wasn’t working much as an actor. I was a boxing trainer and the girl that I was training was an event coordinator. She said, “I’m doing this event. I was wondering if you want to work it because Muhammad Ali’s coming to see the movie at this charity event.” I absolutely went yes but then I had that feeling of going I don’t want to sneak into a party to pretend I’m working like serving table five so I could meet him.
I went back and said, “This is not how I want it to happen.” She asked to borrow a heavy bag of mine so she could decorate it. I said, “Here’s the heavy bag but I think it is best that I don’t charge it on this $5,000 dinner just to meet Muhammad Ali.” That way, she goes, “No. Your job is to look after him to make sure no one crowds.” I’m like, “What?” I spent the night basically hanging out with Muhammad Ali. I’m standing there while I’m letting people in to get their picture taken with them because it is a $5,000 plate charity dinner. People take a picture. By the time the third person went in, I had started crying.
I was like, “Muhammad Ali is right there. I can’t believe this is happening.” I’m tearing up. I’m crying. The person that I was teaching boxing to Rory looked at me with a smile on her face. She went, “Get your shit together right now.” Lonnie came over to me, “Do you want to have a picture with Muhammad?” I went, “I would love to have a picture with Muhammad.” I sat there and I put my arm around the man. He put his fist on my face and I got a picture with Muhammad Ali.
I see why that is the most prized possession for sure. Question six. Dorian, if you could buy anything in the world, digital, physical, service and experience that is currently for sale, what would that be?
My ultimate thing is to get to the point where I can take my greater group of friends on vacations and to places around the world as a group. I have never had better experiences in my life and traveling abroad with good friends, especially if you can get 4, 6, 10 people together and go to these places that they are probably not going to get to on their own. I have done that a few times in smaller groups with 4 to 6 people but I would love to be able to pay for the jet, 24 people hop on and we go on a tour of a few places in Southeast Asia. I have done in Australia and see these things that are unattainable for the majority of people. The happiest time of my life.
I have never rented a jet. We’ll get there. I have to double up on that just because the best experiences that I have ever had were friends that I have gone on trips with that you are just experiencing something together as a group of people meant. that memory itself will be owned forever. If you don’t see them for twenty years and then you see them, it is like yesterday. I have had numerous amounts of times where I had that and been so thankful that we were on these trips together. Those are good ones.
They imprint on your brain. You never forget them. I had a plantation in Rwanda for six years. I commute back and forth in Vancouver. Every now and then, I take one of my friends with me or somebody wants to go. Those times in Rwanda when I could show that area to those people are burned on my brain.
What do you get in your mind? What do you get your eye on, Aleks?
That was mine. Honestly, relationships and friendships that you can share something special with to me is the best memory and the best thing that I would love to do again and keep on doing. It literally snuck up on me when a group of us going for a wedding and we had this thing. Every time these pictures come up, where we see the people we haven’t seen in ten years, those memories are just there. It is like no time has passed. I love those times.
Jeff and I have had many of those adventures over the years. I can totally relate. Eathan, Jeff and I have had quite a few already in our first year building this company and creating the space.
Let’s shift gears a little bit. Question seven, if you could pass on one of your personality traits to the next generation, what would that be? Dorian, we’ll start with you.
It is a personality trait, my endless desire to learn. I always want to learn about something new. I want to dive into it, figure out how it works and maybe it interests me or it doesn’t interest me. I’ll continue to learn more as time passes. If it doesn’t interest me, I figured out how to do it. I want to get my pilot’s license just because I wanted to learn about it. I wanted to see how it all went down.
For me, it is my personality trait of joy. To be able to do the work that I do, I don’t even consider it work, spreading joy along in a set that I feel like that kind of stuff opens up the creativity and makes it not only a fun place to work at but the funnel of creativity. Especially for an actor, when you are sitting there and the people are tense, everything is happening and you don’t want to screw up. You don’t want to be the guy that screws up and loses time. I’m just saying my lines.
Once you throw that joy around, give them the ownership of the space and we are all having fun. That creativity goes wide. You are getting better content and better performances. They ended up going, “I don’t even want to lead the set right now because I’m having so much fun.” I experienced that with some great actors that were running and leads of their own shows. I got the opportunity to do that. It is exactly how I would want to spread that to the world.
We were on a videocast podcast, a live stream on Twitch and Discord, me and our creative director Nick Harborne was on the microphone sitting beside me. It was a video stream. Aleks was moving into the stream. He was taking over Nick’s spot. His joy at that moment was to roll in, body checks him and tackle him to the ground.
To make sure he knows it is my turn.
Let’s flip that question on its head. Question seven. Dorian, if you could eliminate one of your personality traits from the next generation, what would that be?
I know this about myself. Everybody knows that about me. I’m extremely direct to the point where it is unemotional sometimes. If someone asks for their opinion about something, I’m not very good at patting it whether it is an outfit or a business plan. I always say, “If you are asking me, you got to realize you are hitting a brick wall here pretty hard.” I wish I could soften that up.
Aleks, how about you?
It took me a while to get there. I love to learn especially learning about myself and how I could get better. When I was younger, it was the fear of trying something to not look dumb. It was one of those things where it felt like it handcuffed me and I needed to get vulnerable and truthful with myself to go especially in auditions. You want to take a chance to read what’s on the page or the idea that you want to do. When you first start out, you go, “I want to not screw this up and look dumb.”
For me, it was literally saying, “Fuck it. Do the thing that you want to do and give them the gift of your creativity as opposed to looking for a job.” That is when everything started changing for me when I started going in auditions when I realized that I would rather give the gift of what I can do, walk away from that and then put myself in a pigeon-hole of trying to get a job.
I play piano mostly and one of my favorite inspirational moments as a musician is in a movie. It is a scene that has such a visual aspect to it. I always remember it. When Charlie Parker first got up on stage to go get in a jam session, he played horribly that the drummer took off his symbol and threw it in and out the stage. Those kinds of moments are always inspirational when you see everybody had to start at that humble place. It is more about the sooner you get through it.
There are a lot of guys that can’t get through that or don’t have the courage enough to get through it to get to the other side to see the amazing things that you can do. That is a good point because I think everybody has that in them. It is just, are you willing to walk through that wall to get to the other side?
It comes a bit with age too. I felt the older that I have got into that pocket, it is easier now. I’m not concerned about how someone’s going to perceive me in a situation where I may screw up now. Whereas even years ago, I definitely had that medium-sized roadblock where I didn’t want to look like the dummy or the idiot.
I’m also traveling for business internationally by myself all the time and it taught me that they don’t care about looking dumb. You have to go to the restaurant, eat, sit at the bar, do your meal, read your book, look at your phone, whatever it is. Now I’m an expert in doing things on my own because I have done so much international travel by myself. Everyone can get there but age will help a lot.
Let’s move on to question number nine. What did you do just before joining us on the show, Dorian?
I came to the office, which is a new thing now. Our office has been opening back up since COVID. I spent the morning on calls with people who’ve invested money into the company. It is pretty mundane.
I was looking for my phone for four hours. I drove to my girlfriend’s spot and I thought she had taken it by accident. She didn’t do that. I drove back home and it was like, “Should I come here?” I was trying to find my Apple Watch so I could find my phone. I didn’t have my laptop. My laptop is here. I had Google Duo. I was calling myself but I realized I was calling myself back on my own Google Duo thing. I was getting frustrated. I finally found it in between the sheets, the black sock and my black phone.
You also filmed over 30-something hours of production in less than two days.
I was hoping to sleep in but that didn’t happen.Everybody has it in them. It's just a matter of your willingness to walk through that wall to get to the other side. Click To Tweet
Not only was he an executive producer but he sat and watched every scene of everyone else’s, plus he had his own acting to do his own lines. He remembered a good majority of his lines.
Now I’m an executive producer. We are literally in the scene. I can say this because I’m not giving anything away but I’m looking at the actor and there’s nothing more you want to do but to look at your actor right in the eyes. Have those lines and you tell the truth. That is what you want to get across because the audience could see that but I’m looking at her then I noticed behind her, I see Reebok on a Jersey and I’m like, “Did we get Reebok cleared? I don’t think we got Reebok clear.” She’s telling me her lines and I’m missing all my cues because of going, “I should get the cassette designer to get the Reebok wiser.” My brain was still in executive producer mode. I learned quite a bit about when to let go and sit back but we got the scene.
I’m not used to sitting in on these types of things, movie and TV sets. I was sitting there and watching the monitor and you are delivering your line. In the middle of your line, you are like, “What’s my line?” I thought, “Was that on the script?” This is what threw me for the loop. He then started again on it and said, “What’s my line at the exact same time as the last one?” Now I’m thinking, “That is the script.” We had a great day and everybody there, along with the director Kimani and Andy being the DP, these three guys, along with Neil, the hours they put in to get this done was super impressive. I goosebumps through many of the scenes and watch them get done.
I have been doing this for a while. You are going to be blown away of what we did. I’m putting money on it. I’m putting NFTs on it.
Last question. What are you going to do next after the show?
I’m going to go to sleep.
I am moving. I’m going home to pack.
It is a good time. We appreciate the ten questions, Edge Quick Hitters in the books. What do you say we dive into a little hot topic action here before we wrap up? The first one is very interesting and intriguing, Elon Musk Rumored to Buy Bored Ape NFT Worth 569 Ethereum. He may have just joined the Bored Ape Club. Musk previously called out the Twitter management team on the rising number of bots and scammers related to NFTs and cryptocurrencies BAYC holders include names like Eminem, Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Curry, Mark Cuban and many more.
This is one of those situations where there’s at least a part of this where even though we said NFTs are a place where this might not happen as much or you get those people who are early into something and they’ve got this pride of ownership, it is their thing and then they lose it because it becomes popular culture thing. They feel disconnected from it because they were like the early adopter.
At least with blockchain, you have a record that those people were early adopters and they can have that pride. The last thing I will say before I get other comments is I did and this was interesting having an NFT show and seeing it from this side, inadvertently see the moment where Paris Hilton is on Jimmy Fallon and they do the Bored Ape Yacht Club reveal. It was lame, to be honest. It felt a little too pop culturally and not connected with at least the spirit of things that I see every day in NFTs. What are your thoughts about this?
MoonPay is driving that because there was a photo of Musk meeting with the MoonPay guys the day before. We know that MoonPay also bought them for Eminem or maybe some of the other people. That is part of MoonPay’s marketing campaign. As far As these celebrities getting into NFTs, I personally feel they are going about it the wrong way, having them bought for them or buying into the very top. Someone was able to trace Justin Bieber’s big purchase to a business partner of his who was about to promote his own NFT drop. He thought, “I’m going to buy Bieber this and then it will connect to my project.”
It is all a bit of smoke and mirrors. Celebrities, sports icons and these big personal brands are coming into it with too much ego or low care level. We are an NFT community. We look out for each other. You see these cash grabs these people try to do. Johnny Depp’s NFT drop to 0.6 Ethereum. It only got to 21% minted before they pulled the plug. It is because it is the antithesis of what the NFT community is about.
That is why I’m stoked to work with Aleks on this project because we are trying to bring the fans along with us. We are trying to make the fans part of the project. These things that you brought up, I don’t feel that they are in the same vein. I feel that they are exploitive and they are looking to take from what all of us have built. That is how I feel personally.
Generally speaking, Elon Musk stuff is all about promotion for his various companies and himself. He knows that it basically the old adage that any publicity is good publicity. He likes to mess with people I think. Whether he’s buying something or not, I don’t know whether he’s talking about it. He has fun with it, all of this stuff with Doge and getting people riled up. It is his personality. He’s done it consistently over time. I don’t take any of that too seriously.
Of the people that seem unique to do something interesting in NFTs that are celebrities, it is Elon Musk. It is interesting the Doge aspect of it. There’s a personal connection with it. He does seem more of like an underdog ruder than jumping on board when something is already hip and popular. Anything to say or should we hit the next one?
Microsoft’s Minecraft Goes Web3 with ‘NFT World’ on Polygon. The sandbox-style video game Minecraft, released back in 2011 is getting a Web3 update. Thanks to a few developers unaffiliated with Microsoft. NFT Worlds is a project built on third-party Minecraft servers with a Polygon-based overlay. For those who need an update, Polygon is an Ethereum side chain that offers lower gas fees. Since Microsoft bought Minecraft’s developer Mojang Studios for a whopping $2.5 billion in 2014, the player base has grown. The game had 131 million monthly active users in 2020 and over 141 million monthly active users in 2021. This thing is bound to happen.
There has been such an interesting divide between traditional gamers and folks that are Web3 Metaverse centric or into metaverse gaming. It is an interesting thing. I didn’t foresee that when NFTs started to hit at the end of 2020 and everything. It was a weird thing. It was this weird conflict that arose. I don’t get it because gamers traditionally are ahead of their time.
Many that have been around for a long and making money off gaming, doing cool things in gaming, it made sense that they would come along with it but this has been this weird conflict. It is interesting to see one that is a traditional non-metaverse game and then folks taking that, wrapping that into the Metaverse Web3 world. It is interesting. It reminds me of this divide. It is still out there. It is good to see something that is bridging that in some form or fashion.
Polygon has been slowly and rapidly in various ways, becoming this go-to chain for high transaction buy and gaming stuff. It has been powerful to see them rise into that space.
There’s a subtle message there for the gaming world, which is, “If you don’t join the party, the party is going to start without you.”
There have been a few games that have announced that were a move towards NFTs. They got big pushback from the community and they ended up stopping it. The NFT world is one that threw me a loop because those are meant for free, just for gas. I saw them pretty at 18 Ethereum at one point or something like that. I went searching and I gave up but I was trying to figure out if they have ever received any type of permission from Microsoft. I couldn’t find any.
I remember when they were at around 0.25, 0.3 or 0.5 Ethereum and I thought, “Maybe I’ll buy a couple of these just in case they take off.” I didn’t because I entirely envisioned a DMCA coming inbound to them because they were literally all their maps. They wrote how they were using them under a creative license. They didn’t even develop new maps. I thought they would get taken down now. Maybe since then they have formed a partnership. I have no idea but do you guys know?
No. It was saying they still hadn’t gotten Microsoft’s permission in that article. I’m guessing that is the case.
Imagine buying that for 15, 18 or 20 Ethereum or something and getting robbed by Microsoft. It is a total possibility.
We have always seen interesting stuff like this happen with Tarantino NFT projects and stuff like that.
The studio did a DMCA on them.
I heard he was doing an NFT drop of two deleted scenes. I’m thinking that was a real thing because people were talking about it but he actually did.
He got sued or DMCA. I don’t know 1 of the 2.
Why? Because it wasn’t as film anymore?
It wasn’t his film.
We have gotten to talk to people behind that project at Secret Network on a few aspects. They could share a lot more before there was a legal case. I couldn’t talk about certain things in legal cases. It was a matter of him sharing not necessarily the film itself but his private background stuff around it, script notes and the interesting thing about it is they were secret NFTs. You didn’t know what they were unless you purchased them. That was the comment I interviewed Tor from Secret Network about that. He was saying and this is interesting. The studio is suing him over content that they don’t actually even know what it is.
No matter what it is for the film that they own the film to or do they own every aspect of the film, almost like script notes that he would have done but never made it into the film. How do they own that?
Some of the stuff has to be challenged. Our legal precedent has to be established. Who wants to go through that? Nobody wants to spend a bunch of money and time.
Maybe somebody should do some Web3 TV shows.
Let’s try sourcing fun for our readers shout out. I will preview what it is before we do it. This comes to us from a Discord member known as Ladies_And_Gents. I’ll give you a little bit of background. He’s an animator and worked on Disney classics like the Lion King and Beauty and The Beast. What he’s done is we give him a little bit of a tip on the episode, says you guys were coming on and he wanted to create a sketch. Sorry, Dorian. There weren’t a lot of photos on my mind for him to go from. We got a cool sketch of Aleks.
He says, “Aleks reminds him of Mr. Incredible and is a big fan of his positive attitude.” He named this piece, which we’ll share in a moment, after one of Alek’s quotes, “All defeats are temporary,” which is very appropriate for some of the contexts that we have on the show. Here is how I’m going to try to do it. If it doesn’t work the first way, we’ll have another way. Everybody can see what’s going on so I’m going to spotlight me first and then I’ll spotlight yours. It should put us side by side. We will get a little bit of a reaction if we can from Aleks.
Thanks for doing that. That is awesome. I love that.
Here’s what’s going to happen. Ladies_And_Gents is going to mint that as an NFT if he hasn’t already and you give us your wallet address and he’ll make the transfer for free as a gift to you so you will have an NFT sketch version of yourself as a commemoration of this experience on the show.
Who was it?
He’s known by Ladies_And_Gents on Discord. His name is Tom LaBaff.
Tom LaBaff, you rock. This is awesome. I absolutely love this. Drop it in my soon-to-be wallet. That is sick. Thank you so much for that.
You can send someone some ETH or a picture of themselves, whatever it takes to build those bridges.
I think anybody taking the time to do something like that and make an image of myself. I’m always blown away because it takes time and talent. It is awesome. I’m very flattered.
It is a great way to end the episode. It is an amazing time spending this day with you. I wanted to let our readers know where can they go to follow you and all the fun stuff that you are working on? You have so many cool things to do.
Check them out there. Keep an eye on our socials for details on a giveaway that we have coming up with five GenZeroes NFTs. It is a sick giveaway. Thank you so much for offering that. We appreciate it. All fun stuff that we’ll be asking you to do to get involved with that giveaway. We have reached the outer limit at the show. Thanks for exploring with us. We have got space for more adventures on this Starship. Invite your friends and recruit some cool strangers that will make this journey also much better out. Go to iTunes or Spotify. Rate us and say something awesome then go to EdgeOfNFT.com to dive further down the rabbit hole.
Remember, we always invite you to co-create and build with us at Edge of NFT. We are unlocking a whole new way to connect and collaborate with us through our own NFT drops, spirit seeds, leading to living tree NFTs, which will light the way to our event, NFT LA, a one of a kind immersive and unforgettable experience at LA live in Los Angeles, March 28 to 31, 2022. Check it out at NFTLA.live and then move quickly on early bird tickets as they are selling fast. Lastly, be sure to tune in next time for more great NFT content. Thanks for sharing this time with us.
Thank you so much.
- Looking Glass Labs
- House of Kibaa
- IMDb – Aleks Paunovic
- Gutter Cat
- Bored Ape Yacht Club
- Elon Musk Rumored to Buy Bored Ape NFT Worth 569 Ethereum
- Microsoft’s Minecraft Goes Web3 with ‘NFT World’ on Polygon
- Tarantino NFT
- Tor Bair – Past Episode
- @AleksPaun – Instagram
- Twitter – Aleks Paunovic
- Facebook – Aleks Paunovic
- Spotify – Edge of NFT Podcast
- iTunes – Edge of NFT Podcast
About Dorian Banks
Mr. Banks is an international serial entrepreneur, having started dozens of businesses in Europe, Africa, Asia and North and South America. For over 25 years, he has primarily worked in the tech, agri-tech and blockchain sectors. Mr. Banks primarily works to identify up-and-coming trends, develop a business model and turn the idea into a successful business.
He has also consulted globally on the sectors he has most expertise. Mr. Banks has served on over a dozen public Boards and taken his own startups to the public markets such as MetroBridge Networks which he started as a one-man operation. He also has served in larger corporations such as Chief Knowledge Officer of Voith GmbH in Germany. He continues as Managing Director of Design Build Research, a non-profit educating around sustainable building practices.