- 💡 Creative Synergy Between Hollywood and Artificial Intelligence
💡 Creative Synergy Between Hollywood and Artificial Intelligence
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Executives in the media and entertainment industry are betting that AI can be a positive force by augmenting human creativity in addition to increasing efficiency. These companies range from brand new startups like Strada, an AI-enabled cloud platform with tools for production and postproduction to more established AI-powered companies including Invisible Universe, developing family friendly franchises on social media, and Toonstar, developing irreverent adult franchises on web3. This is not to mention the incumbent Hollywood studios who are snapping up AI talent while their hands are full with a striking workforce worried about AI.
We had the opportunity to delve into how ToonStar uses AI and web3 to create community-driven franchises.✍️🤝🤖
Image Source: Toonstar.com
🏃♀️ Quick hits
The Founder: John Attanasio and Luisa Huang are both Hollywood veterans. Prior to launching Toonstar, John spent nearly fifteen years developing franchise properties and driving innovation at Warner Bros. and DreamWorks where he held roles in marketing, business development, digital content creation and tech commercialization. Luisa also spent over a decade at entertainment behemoths such as Disney and Warner Bros. holding a variety of roles in strategy, consumer products, business development, and digital content creation.
The Company: Today, Toonstar is an interactive story studio focused on creating entertainment franchises through community-driven storytelling. In essence, it bridges the creative minds in the writing room with everyday fans, inviting them to actively participate in the content creation process. This unique process is made possible through technology, namely Web3, blockchain, and AI.
LA Connection: Toonstar is headquartered in Los Angeles and is deeply integrated with the Los Angeles entertainment ecosystem given the extensive industry experience of its founders.
Toonstar, founded about eight years ago by Disney, Warner Bros., and Dreamworks veterans John Attanasio and Luisa Huang, operates as an interactive story studio. Its main focus is on building entertainment franchises through community-driven storytelling. Essentially, Toonstar connects writers with everyday fans, allowing them to actively participate in content creation. This unique collaboration is made possible through technology, including Web3, blockchain, and AI.
The Role of Blockchain and NFT in Franchises:
Toonstar uses blockchain technology and NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) as a key part of its approach. They distribute NFTs representing characters in their franchises to the community. NFT owners can then shape their character's backstory, with more NFTs giving greater voting power in deciding the story's direction. The creative process at Toonstar is similar to traditional studios, where writers create scripts for each episode. However, there's a twist - each episode ends with a cliffhanger, and the community decides what happens next. These choices are presented for voting, sometimes with full creative freedom. Toonstar's machine learning tools facilitate this interaction, blending fan input with professional storytelling seamlessly.
The Role of AI in Franchises:
At first, AI mainly sped up episode creation behind the scenes. But gradually, it moved beyond that and became part of the community-facing aspect. In "Space Junk," Welbecca became the first AI-voiced character, serving as both a character and a tool to help NFT owners develop their characters and stories.
The upcoming Toonstar franchise, "Fortun3," goes even further in integrating AI. It includes an AI-powered simulation game that blends with the episodes, adding a real-time dimension to the storytelling, coinciding with the FTX trial.
Exploring Toonstar's Franchises:
Toonstar has made its mark with past franchises like "The Gimmicks" and "Space Junk." "Gimmicks" was the first interactive TV series in the Web3 realm, co-produced with Mila Kunis, featuring a comedic storyline about wrestlers. "Space Junk," created by Dominic Russo, explored humor among space garbage collectors.
Toonstar is not oblivious to the fact that anything related to blockchain is out of favor with the public, in fact, it is the subject of their next franchise. "Fortun3" is inspired by the FTX implosion, mixing elements of "South Park," "Silicon Valley," and "BoJack Horseman," and will feature T.J. Miller from "Silicon Valley."
While entertainment titans are in the midst of a hiring frenzy still trying to grapple with how best to incorporate generative AI into their business practices, Toonstar is one of many creative businesses driving progress by innovating their way past the enormous barriers to entry in standard production companies. As the entertainment industry evolves, Toonstar's dedication to inclusivity and innovation is creating opportunities for new voices and unique storytelling experiences. 🎭🎬🌟
Would you be interested in interactive entertainment franchises (TV or Movies)?
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🤝 Venture Deals
Afterparty, a fan connection and monetization platform for creators, raised a $5M Funding Round led by Blockchange Ventures, joined by Acrew Capital, Act One Ventures, Tamarack Global and Wilson Sonsin. - learn more
Bevz, a software platform for independently operated and small chain liquor/convenience stores raised a $3.1M Funding Round led by Dynamism Capital and Golden Section Ventures with participation from Stage 2 Capital, Hustle Fund, Bridge Investments, Tiller Partners, Irish Angels and others.- learn more
Estate Media, a personality driven real estate media company, raised a $1.65M Funding Round from investors including Powerhouse Capital, Upstate Shredding CEO Adam Weitsman and others. - learn more
📅 LA Tech Calendar
Friday, September 22nd
HackSC Presents: USC Hack Night #1 🗽- Join others in tech and tech-adjacent fields Friday night on USC’s campus to hear from USC's AI Collective, Capture the Flag (CTF) team, and a surprise special speaker.
Monday, September 25th
Tech Networking - Studio City🗽 - Join other tech enthusiasts at an exceptional gathering, attracting diverse professionals from all corners of the tech industry, including investors, founders, marketers, sales experts, engineers, and more.
Wednesday, September 27th
Investor & LP Only Poker Evening - Step into a world where strategy, decision-making, and calculated risks converge in the form of a poker tournament designed exclusively for investors and fund LPs. This investor only event in Santa Monica is hosted by Expert Dojo, Incisive Ventures and Pitbull Ventures.
Thursday, September 28th
Starburst's SoCal Aerospace Community Mixer🗽 - Join the Starburst Aerospace team Thursday night in Hawthorne for some BBQ, beverages, and vibrant conversation with our local aerospace & defense community of partners, investors, founders, portfolio companies, and ecosystem players!
Founders Pack: Wolves Hunting Unicorns Summer Startup Pitch & Gaming Bash - Join Founders Pack Thursday night in the Arts District for their Summer Startup pitch and gaming bash for founders & investors from pre-seed to series a startups.
AI x Creativity: Unlocking Creative Potential - Join others interested in AI in Santa Monica Thursday evening at an event exhibiting interactive AI entertainment pop-ups and a panel discussion lead by director of creative consulting at Designworks LA, Paul Ferraiolo, about how AI can amplify the role of the creative.
🗽 - Free
Have an awesome event coming up? Reach out to be featured on next week’s Newsletter!
📙 What We’re Reading
Listen to (or read) an engaging conversation between Minnie Ingersoll, Partner at TenOneTen, and Adrian Fenty, founding managing partner at MaC Venture Capital and former mayor of Washington, DC. In this episode, Adrian dives into the intersections of government and technology. - listen here