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OPEN TRANSCRIPTION:...

OPEN TRANSCRIPTION:

ROB RICHARDSON
All right. Welcome back to the Art and Equity Summit. With me is actor/activist, David Bianchi. -- How you doing, brother?

DAVID BIANCHI
I’m good, brother. Good to talk to you.

ROB
Yeah, man. So we've been talking the whole day here about moving forward and getting more equity for black and brown artists and really emphasizing the opportunity with this NFT in the space here. And I know, David, some artists are really hesitant to really get into the space from what I’ve seen. Some are just jumping right in and some say, “I just don't know about this.”

You got into this space. You're an actor. You're also an artist. And if I’m correct, you have one of the first spoken words of NFTs that at least I’ve seen and you're applying it. Why did you see the opportunity with NFTs and what would you say to those who were just saying, “Well I’m not sure if this is going to devalue my art” because that's something I’ve heard from artists.

DAVID
Thanks for having me on and thanks for opening up the discussion. So as you mentioned, my name is David Bianchi. I’m an actor, independent film producer but also widely known as a spoken word poet.

Over the last 15 years, I’ve spent a large part of my creative side work producing high concept spoken word films that I call “Spinema” -- spinning cinema through spoken word. They are basically experimental short films that are narratives told entirely in spoken word poetry. Each one of them has an underlying theme of social consciousness whether it relates to African-American rights, whether it relates to children being abducted by the federal government at the Mexican border.

We did a piece that was pandemic-oriented, sort of like losing your sense of identity. I’ve done anti-bully pieces. These are projects that I’ve done with the likes of Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Mustafa Shakir.

I wrote a large portion of the spoken word poetry in the Sundance Film, “Filly Brown,” that made Gina Rodriguez a star. That was her breakout film. I’ve been nationally televised several times as a spoken word poet.

So flash forward to where we are now, this new piece -- well not necessarily new but newer -- called “I Can't Breathe” which is a piece that I wrote was basically my personal soliloquy of my pain of what it means to be a person of color in America in the shadow of the death of Mr. George Floyd during the largest civil rights movement in global history.
The film in and of itself was hailed by Deadline and critically acclaimed and ended up being broadcast on KTLA on their award-winning series, “Breaking Bias.” It's a heavy-nominated series.

So as it relates to the question with the NFT thing is that I’ve been… I’ve owned cryptocurrencies since probably late 2017. I think that there's a certain amount of familiarity with the digital and crypto space. There needs to be sort of like the prerequisite to understanding NFT, right?

So I was already well-versed with “Digital wallets, cold storage” -- these sorts of things. That kind of stuff was already in my language so I wasn't too terrified of it. But when I discovered, obviously, the press about it, you know, [pre-people - 03:14] and all that kind of stuff, I was hearing a little bit about it. But as an artist, I didn't know where I fit in.

Now I’m all about pushing the boundaries of art. I’ve gotten a congratulatory letter from Mayor Villaraigosa for my work as a fine artist abstract contemporary stuff.

But I’m widely known as an actor and as a filmmaker and as a poet. I just didn't know where I fit. I was trying to juggle which way could I come in, what would be the best way to penetrate the market.

So I did a lot of research and I came across a platform called “Ephemera.” And I was drawn to that platform because, one, their model is that they are lens-based material. So they're minting projects with curated artists that are still photography, art house photography, black and white.

So I reached out to them and I pitched them and told them who I am and what I’m planning on doing. And the reason I really pushed with them is because they have a 250 megabyte upload capacity. For me, that was it. That was a game changer because if you look at all these other platforms -- you look at Foundation. You look at Nifty. You look at Rarible. You look at OpenSea -- you're dealing with like 30 to 50 megabyte capacity on the upload. Well I can't do anything in cinema with that. And even 250 megabytes was a challenge for me because… I Can't Breathe is a five-minute piece but at 1080, you're looking at 500-plus megabytes.

ROB
Yeah.

DAVID
So what I did was I compressed it down to a 960X540 aspect ratio and I was still able to maintain the 16x9. So I didn't squeeze or stretched or distort the imagery in any way shape or form. As a result of that, I was able to upload the entire film in its entirety and mint it as a one of one.

ROB
Wow.

DAVID
So it's the first time that an award-winning spoken word film has ever been minted on the blockchain.

ROB
That's awesome. That's awesome, man. What platform is it on if they wanted to purchase it?

DAVID
Sure. It’s on Ephemera--

ROB
Assuming it’s not taken by the time we do this. Go ahead.

DAVID
Well it's on Ephemera and the auction is going to close today. We're going to have the closing auction party today.

ROB
Oh wow. So hopefully, it's already up and it’ll be awesome.

DAVID
But what I will say is this: The closing bidding -- and obviously, you'll be able to buy it from whoever owns it -- it's at five ethereum right now.

ROB
For those who don't know “ethereum,” tell them what that translates into dollars.

DAVID
Right now, that translates into about $11,000. We anticipate that with the bidding party tonight, it could get upwards of 10 ethereum which would push it over $22,000. That's a massive win. And just so everybody knows, as an artist, I am giving 100% of all profit proceeds to the George Floyd Foundation.

ROB
That's awesome.

DAVID
This is a project that me and my director, Ryan LeMasters… We made this in the shadow of the movement for the movement. And so with that spirit in mind, it didn't make any sense to do it any other way, right?

ROB
Yeah.

DAVID
The noise that I’ve been able to make as a result of this piece, and it being a maverick piece and a trend-setting piece, I think has created a strong introduction into the NFT space for me as an artist which in turn will build a platform for profit-based projects literally down the road. This one is just about the movement.

And being that we're in the midst of the Chauvin trial and all that kind of stuff, it's very timely and people's hearts are very sensitive. So in lieu of that -- and I’ll give you a little bit of a nugget since this will come out later -- I’m announcing tonight at the closing auction drop that I’m releasing three sets of ones of tens where it's just going to be the actual artwork from the film but you'll hear the cinematic dialogue of the entire film. So three series of ones of tens and those will be available for 0.1 ETH which is right now about 220 bucks…

ROB
That’s awesome.

DAVID
… because I wanted to be able to make it so that people can own part of the first ever spoken word NFT if you're a common investor, not a whale investor.

ROB
Right. Making it accessible, I think, is really important. Everyone hears people sold for $69 million, they think this is something that you can't participate in. But there's lots of levels of art to participate in. And honestly, before things become the $10,000, $20,000, $30,000, they often start at the 2-300, and this is where if you believe in the art and you believe in what you're doing which I do believe in what you're doing. I think people should invest in you. That's how this works. That's how this community works and I see the opportunity.

And again, just going back to my earlier question… because I hear this from artists and I do want you to speak to these artists if you could. Some say, “Well would I devalue my work? I have work that I sell just as an artist that normally goes for $5000 a pop. If I put it out here, might this devalue it? Do I change the work I have slightly to do something different” -- just your general advice when you're talking to artists that may be a little skeptical of this. Obviously, I’m not... I mean we're locked in--

DAVID
Right. Yeah, we're both, obviously, very bullish on this.

ROB
Yeah.
DAVID
I think that it's a complicated question because if you're talking about… If the first thing out of an artist's mouth is “It's going to devalue my art” then that makes me assume that your art in the mainstream art world or music world or wherever is worth a ton of money, right?

ROB
Yeah.

DAVID
So if you're getting $15,000 for a fine art piece at a gallery in Beverly Hills, if you put it up as an NFT and you don't have a proper marketing team behind you and you don't have a marketing budget to push and drive your NFT to get to at least the same amount of money or higher then you are devaluing your work.

ROB
Sure.

DAVID
Right? So if an artist says that to me, I’m going to say, “Okay, so what's your work selling for in the normal world as opposed to the meta world?” Right?

ROB
Yeah.

DAVID
Now, if you're an artist who is living in his basement, what are you scared of?

ROB
Exactly.

DAVID
It just takes a little bit of homework. And YouTube is a great resource and Clubhouse is a fantastic resource where people will help you.

ROB
Opensea… Clubhouse. I would say Opensea.io. The NFT Bible is a good place to go?

DAVID
NFT Bible, that's a great place for me to go. Just so you know, man, I’m nowhere near a technical expert in this. I mean I’m literally walking down the hallway with a blindfold on and just touching the walls as I go.

ROB
You know, that's most people. This is what I want people to understand. Like you don't have to be a technical genius or expert. I don't consider myself that either. Steve Jobs is obviously a genius but he didn't create the iPad. He didn't create the iPod. He had the vision.

The technology can be created, right? The technology is there. You can sell digital art. The thing is you have to know what your vision is. It's the same thing in the physical world as it is in the technical or the digital world. You have to know what it is you're selling, understand the audience you're trying to sell it to and then go out there.

The technology is the easiest part in some ways. You just have to get past that in your mind that you have to be some technical genius. YouTube is great. Google is your friend. Like you can literally figure these things out.

And this community, I can tell you, David, has been very open. They'll tell you. You go someplace and say, “Look, I don't know about this,” someone says, “I will show you.”

DAVID
Yeah, and the people will help you. You’re absolutely right. People will help you find the answer. I’ve been actually pleasantly surprised by how generous the NFT community is. I mean it's very unusual for a guy that works at Hollywood. People aren't very--

ROB
You live in a different world.

DAVID
Yeah, LA is a different world. People aren't that nice, sometimes. You know what I mean? They’re not that generous with their offerings. “Giving people flowers” is a common phrase that's used in the Clubhouse space. In other words, I’m going to give somebody flowers by bigging them up or endorsing them publicly in Clubhouse.

I just invite everybody to really, at least, do your own investigation to see if it works for you. Just because you say you're going to put up an NFT, you still got to be ready to put in the time and the hustle, right?

ROB
Absolutely.

DAVID
It's hours -- hours and hours and hours of time and energy to figure out how to get to the right places and connect with the right people to find a place for your work.

For me, I don't work in NFTs that are bitcoins and lollipops. I’m producing socially-conscious spoken word films that are being minted and so I have a certain community of people that are going to gravitate to my work. Having a little bit of celebrity certainly helps but I mean it only goes so far unless you're Dwayne Johnson or Vin Diesel or a big rapper for example. So people should do their own research at the end of the day.

I want to be able to use the work that I’m doing to be able to inspire other people, right… because think about the four-minute mile. Nobody ran the four-minute mile until somebody broke the four-minute mile.

ROB
Now everybody broke the four-minute mile. Now it’s common, right?

DAVID
Now there are several people that can run a four-minute mile. So I want to be that four-minute mile guy as it relates to spoken word films in the NFT space.

Now with all that being said, even in the real world, there is nobody on the planet that is producing spoken word films to the degree that I am -- you know, 15-person crews, A and B cameras, original score, sound design, music, mixing, full-on color correction treatments and DaVinci Resolve. I treat these like films. I’ve scoured the internet. There are none -- none.

ROB
Well that’s what sets you apart.

DAVID
Right. So to bring these films into the NFT space and to be able to put a foothold in this particular segment of the digital space, I think will have value because I think that--

I will continue to do this and there will be gentlemen and gals that will come behind me but my anticipation is I’ll be so far ahead of the game that I’d like to just be a metric for inspiration but also a metric for collaboration because I do want to collaborate with as many people as possible that have a matching vibration.

ROB
That's awesome. That's awesome, man. Look, we're excited to have you as one of our disrupters that we're featuring. We align there. Having you to be one of our initial artists that we feature as the disrupters and innovators of social impact is going to be awesome. Look, it was great having you as part of the Art and Equity Summit.

DAVID
I appreciate it.

ROB
If folks would like to talk and interact, we're going to be talking right after this. -- We really appreciate having you on, David.

DAVID
Happy to be here, man. I appreciate you bringing me on, Rob.

ROB
Thank you.

[END OF TRANSCRIPT]

HOSTED BY

ROB RICHARDSON

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“He was a maverick. He was a massive disruptor. He was a massive social activist. He was fundamentally fearless and he carried the weight of changing a global culture.”

Actor, Filmmaker and Poet David Bianchi created the first spoken word NFT. The NFT focused on the continuing injustice of police brutality in America. His piece was sold for over $12,000 and all funds went to the George Floyd Memorial fund. David was interviewed on Forbes regarding his spoken word NFT.

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ROB RICHARDSON

Entrepreneur & Keynote Speaker

Rob Richardson is the host of disruption Now Podcast and the owner of DN Media Agency, a full-service digital marketing and research company. He has appeared on MSNBC, America this Week, and is a weekly contributor to Roland Martin Unfiltered.

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