GenZeroes: Going behind the scenes of the first NFT sci-fi series with Aleks Paunovic and Neil Stevenson-Moore

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From House of Kibaa, GenZeroes is an NFT sci-fi series set 200 years in the future after Earth has been left in ruins by a marauding alien species, leaving 10 factions to battle for control of humanity’s future. Earth’s population is at its smallest since the stone age, but thanks to the abandoned alien machines, the human race has never been more technologically advanced. Medicine, travel (land, sea, and air), and most importantly weaponry, are at such an advanced stage they would be thought of as pure science fiction today. But even as our technological achievements evolved exponentially, as always the slowest to evolve is our own nature. With humanity at stake, and each faction jockeying for control using the most advanced technology in our history, alliance and betrayal are still the most potent weapons…

We spoke to Hawkeye’s Aleks Paunovic (pictured above) who is executive producing and starring in GenZeroes, and executive producer Neil Stevenson-Moore about what makes an NFT series and whether there are plans to take the show to the networks…

What can you tell us about House of Kibaa and GenZeroes?

Neil Stevenson-Moore: Well, House Of Kibaa is kind of known for being a company that’s been really excited about the NFT space. We became this collective of artists that built a project called the Gen Xs which was a series of robots that we minted as NFTs but they were also going to be available in 3D.

Then as we produced them and sold them, the community got really excited and they were starting to take on a life of their own. So we decided to break them back to their core, which were these 10 factions that they came from. And I called up Aleks and I said to him that the NFT community is full of nerds that get really excited about things and spend all their time talking about them. I know another community that’s kind of similar that I’m also a member of which is the sci-fi community!

So I reached out to Aleks and I said that what was really important was that we didn’t just do a basic job of this. We had to make sure that we wrote good stories because neither community – both the NFT community and the sci-fi community – recognise when people try to use a gimmick or use something that isn’t authentic. So I knew that if we were going to marry these two communities, we needed to do it in a way that was authentic.

We’re so fortunate to be here in Vancouver because it has such a great sci-fi background, whether it was The X-Files back in the day or Battlestar Galactica, Snowpiercer, Stargate, there are so many amazing sci-fi films and TV shows that have been made here.

Initially, we thought that this was just going to be a small project. We were just going to create these 10 backstories and that was going to be it. But it has evolved just based on the excitement that Aleks brought to it and that the writers brought to it.

GenZeroes began from an NFT project called Gen X that took on a life of its own… (image credit: Courtesy of House of Kibaa)

How does GenZeroes differ from a TV show?

Neil Stevenson-Moore: We see NFTs as two things: One, it’s the future of digital IP protection. So whether it’s a photograph or a video, when you release it on NFT you can be assured you’re getting the authentic version of it.

The second piece is the community and the connection to the community that people can support projects, both by purchasing or by just participating in the community by giving their time, by giving comments and we ask for both from our community. Of course we want people to participate and buy watch passes but we also want people to give us feedback and thoughts. That actually will earn more things within the community.

So how is it different? Two ways. One of the ways it’s really neat for the community is when you look at the traditional path of a film, the studio has to decide what gets made. People can pitch them a script and then the studio either options it or commissions them to write something. Then when it goes to theatres, that’s the first time they can make money and it’s $25 a head. Then it goes to Video on Demand where you’re ordering it through your cable provider and it’s like 10 bucks a head, and then it goes to a streaming network or something else. But with NFTs the two biggest changes is it provides a new step ahead of all those other ones where an artist can actually put the product in the community and make a little bit of money earlier. It’s a new revenue stream. It’s not going to be the same amount of money as a finished project but you can communicate to them and say ‘hey, here’s what we believe, here’s what we’re trying to do’.

What’s really cool is that the community decides what gets made, not the studios. Then unlike things like Kickstarter, where you just kind of give your money to someone and you get a T-shirt, this actually allows them to own a part of the series. It could be something as tangible as an outfit from the series that was actually worn in an episode. It can be a decision point that you get to make as the community, or it can actually be fractional ownership of that IP.

Aleks Paunovic: What I love, being an actor, is that we get to work on something that’s artist-driven. We can get the people that we want to be a part of it. The community – especially in sci-fi –  can be involved in it. That’s what made it really super fun. I really wanted to dive into the space when Neil approached me and the idea that we can connect with the fans on such a different level.

I love connecting on Twitter and I talk to fans all the time. But now to be able to talk to some fans that have fractional ownership of the show that we’re doing… we can talk about stuff and I can see the people that are actually a part of it. That’s really cool for a fan. I know for me that if I was a fan of something and I can actually be a part of it as opposed to… when we go to Comic Con and fans come, there’s such a devoted fan base that they’ll make costumes of our characters and they show up and we get a picture but they have to pay for the whole thing. This is a little bit more immersive. We’re doing this together. We’re rising together. And that to me is really exciting.

Aleks Paunovic (pictured) is really excited that the community can get involved with GenZeroes. (Image credit: Courtesy of House of Kibaa)

In what ways can audiences be involved with GenZeroes?

Aleks Paunovic: It could be something as small as ‘I wouldn’t mind this in the scene’ and so we can put our armour or battle axes in the back of the scene because a fan requested it. Now he’s part of it because he sees that connection with it.

We just finished shooting a scene where one of the characters gets this chip that sees a little piece of video. But the audience when they watch it, won’t be able to see it, but we’ll actually shoot that to where somebody in the Discord or somebody that’s a part of the show can go ‘I want to see what he saw in that video’. We’ll actually have that. So even though you won’t see it in the show, you’ll actually be able to purchase it as an NFT or we’ll just give it to them. So there are these little things that will be these little cherry drops for people out there that are a part of the show and get them even more connected.

Neil Stevenson-Moore: I highly encourage everyone to jump on the website, Genzeros.com, and put their emails in because we’re going to start doing giveaways. There are a couple of misconceptions out there I want to correct. One is it’s not going to be prohibitively expensive to get involved. We’re not releasing all of our NFTs on Etherium. That means the transaction fees are going to be low to zero for many of our pieces. The second is we are using blockchains that are environmentally friendly, so we’re not releasing it on the ones that people have read about that can be devastating to the environment. The last piece is that there’s going to be ways in at all price points and we are gonna be doing giveaways for people to participate.

Neil Stevenson-Moore: “I highly encourage everyone to jump on the website, Genzeros.com, and put their emails in because we’re going to start doing giveaways!” (image credit: Natalia Anjal)

Has that NFT community vibe made the filmmaking process on GenZeroes more collaborative too?

Aleks Paunovic: Absolutely. The collaboration has just been next level. Having the actors be so open and willing to try different things, it just opens a stream up even more. I’ve always wanted to be a part of a show like that. I was lucky enough to be a part of a couple of shows where I got to be open creatively and that we can do it with the other actors is something that just fills my heart more than the actual acting process. I love the idea of a community coming together and these actors coming together and being as creative as if it was their own show.

Are there plans to distribute GenZeroes beyond an NFT?

Neil Stevenson-Moore: Well from day one we had phone calls from Amazon, Facebook, Netflix all asking us ‘so what are you doing? How do NFTs figure into this, how’s it gonna evolve?’

The vision is it’ll start with something that’s private to the community and you have to have an NFT to watch and then the plan is eventually we sell it or licence it to a streamer so that everyone can see it.

Really the story is so incredible that it’s not just a show for sci-fi fans. It’s got an incredible story in it. It just happens to be in a world that was attacked by aliens.

Aleks Paunovic: The best part of it is that we all agreed this is a new way of making [a TV show]. No one could tell us we’re doing it wrong because we’re the first ones doing it. But we all agreed that the content has to be good because the sci-fi community will know if it’s good or not regardless of what platform it’s on.

So for us, we really believe that we’re making something special and [writers] Matt and Jeremy came up with not only an amazing idea based on the Gen Xs that we had, but they basically wrote a five-year plan. We already have five years that we could possibly do with this run of the show, and the different dips and valleys of what these characters can go through. So that is something that’s really exciting and we just want it to be great content for the viewer and wherever it goes from there, it goes from there…

Aleks Paunovic and Neil Stevenson-Moore will be at Comic Con in San Diego in July.  All episodes of GENZEROES are available to view on the GenZeroes website, with a new episode dropping each week

Main image credit: Brendan Meadows

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