A payment system claiming to automate the collection, tracking and allocation of film company revenues, as well as predicting future box-office success, was the second tech firm to pitch at the Zinemaldia Start Up Challenge, which broadcast live from San Sebastian Film Festival online Friday.
A regular on the international film festival circuit, the U.K.-based FilmChain was launched two years ago by Maria Tanjala (pictured), a former film producer, and Irina Albita, a technologist.
During her seven-minute presentation, Tanjala told the panel that, despite some films’ strong box-office performance, many stakeholders had yet to receive a penny from their work or investment.
“Payments are going around the world with slow and opaque accounting systems while receipts can take years to verify and legal contracts are expensive,” she said.
“Exhibitors, distributors, sales agents all claim they lack the infrastructure and resources to process this fragmented management of rights,” she added.
The solution offered by her company, which launched two years ago, is FilmChain, which utilizes blockchain platform Ethereum, but no crypto-currencies, to generate automated payment mechanisms and smart contracts.
Tanjala estimated 60,000 productions each year could benefit from FilmChain’s ability to keep track of rights and monitor money flow through the value chain.
According to Tanjala, the start-up works with trusted banking partners and all the cash that flows through the system is in government-backed currencies – with FilmChain only employing Ethereum for its ability to automate business logic and make real-time payments.
During the presentation, Zinemaldia panelist Tristan Shedden, from Basque business development agency SPRI, was keen to find out more about the data analytics application, which, FilmChain claimed, offers valuable performance data for clients.
Tanjala explained: “When we open up a bank account for a film, we collect all the revenues coming in from around the world in real time through our rights management tracker.
“This is an opportunity for us to understand how the production is performing on a small VOD in Israel, on a broadcaster in Canada or with SVOD in Australia.”
Based on this information, she added, FilmChain is able to advise sales agents or distributors how they can unlock new territories.
Tanjala added that by gathering historical data and real-time data the system is also capable of making performance predictions through use of machine learning and AI algorithms.
“We have hundreds of variables in place that enable us to predict how much a film is likely to make at the box office in its first 12 months; how long it will run in cinemas; and how many outlets will pick it up,” she claimed.
FilmChain was developed with support from Imperial College London, Innovate U.K. and, most recently, Hearst Media.
The project boasts a board of advisors that includes former iTunes exec Stefan Langefeld and Simona Popa, a one-time exec director at WarnerMedia.
The firm claims to have around 29 B2B clients generating £600,000 ($760,000) spread over the U.K., Australia, Canada and Israel. These include Eurimages, HBO, and Screen Australia, and Tanjala added, “several Oscar-nominated films which are using our product end-to-end.”
FilmChain is now keen to forge links with Spanish-speaking productions and has an employee based in Spain.
“We’re currently engaged in Spanish co-production ‘Mantra: Sounds into Silence’ and can’t wait to develop further synergies with Spanish public financiers and award-winning production companies,” she said.