The Lokals: Split-Based Studio to Release Animated NFT Film About Yugoslavia in 1980s

Daniela Rogulj

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How did a small multimedia studio from Split, which has celebrated over 70 awards, manage to combine filmmaking and the blockchain with the support of two Oscar-winning French production companies? Marin Pavelic of Netokracija tells us more.

“If someone had told me as a cinematographer and filmmaker that one day an NFT animated film would be created that lives on the Ethereum blockchain and that along the way would educate the participants of that project about producing an animated film and that the film would follow a train journey through Yugoslavia in the 80s…” begins Pavelic about the new project by brothers Milivoj and Veljko Popović of Prime Render Studios. The studio is known for producing 2D and 3D computer graphics and multimedia content, primarily focused on developing and producing short animated films.

Over the years, they have made seven short animated films that have been screened at the largest animation festivals in the world and won over 70 awards, including the Animated Eye Award at the Aspen Shortsfest Film Festival, which qualified the film for an Oscar and the Jury Prize at the largest animated film festival and into the world Annecy International Animation Film Festival. In addition, their clients include names such as Netflix, CNBC, Financial Times, Lipton, HEP, etc.

The team has a lot to celebrate, and ready for a new challenge, it was time to get into something more innovative. Milivoj revealed to Netokracija what it took to merge an animated film with blockchain.

The Lokals are the first NFT collection to fully come to life in an animated film. Milivoj explains:

“It is a unique animated collection of 5000 NFTs that lives on the Ethereum blockchain, which we created in collaboration with the artist Božo Balova. It was created by combining virtual reality technology, i.e., the Quill program and the 3D application Blender.”

In addition to allowing individuals to become the owners of a particular work of art, the NFT also grants co-ownership and the title of co-producer on this short animated film, which is a model of work being carried out for the first time in the production of animated films:

“On top of that, the project also has an educational character because all project participants will have the opportunity to follow the production of the animated film, from the very beginning to the end, and will also be able to participate in the making of the animated film! The goal is to fully integrate and harness the power of decentralized ownership and production.”

The blockchain contract for this project was developed by the team from Blank.

Prime Render Studios has been actively participating in the blockchain world since 2017, so it was a natural and logical next step for them to use NFT technology and its applications in the art world. 

“Having Božo in our studio and developing into a truly wonderful and innovative artist was the link that connected those two worlds.”

While working on the film Dislocations, Božo developed a unique visual. However, Božo didn’t stop working on the visuals with that film, and that’s how late and authentic portraits were created, which they then turned into NFTs. They exhibited them on the curated and exclusive Superrare platform:

“The works sold very quickly, reaching a price of over 2 Ether. This confirmed what we already knew: that we have an exciting world that we want to develop further. That’s how The Lokals collection and everything else that goes with it was created.”

The project’s official advisors are Hollywood names such as Emmy Award winner Ante Deković and Hisko Hulsing, director of the successful Amazon Prime series Undone.

Milivoj poetically explains The Lokals with a picture of a train journey through Yugoslavia in the 80s, driving south to the Adriatic coast:

“You would travel past Ljubljana, through Zagreb, and finally reach the end of the railway line in the small coastal Mediterranean town of Split. A vibrant melting pot of ideologies, lifestyles, and ideas, located at the crossroads of the failed socialist idea and the promise of the American dream.”

Local musicians and artists were the first to accept the avant-garde anti-establishment ideology and became part of the modernist movements of that time:

“This is our stage – the small Mediterranean town of Split, and our story is set there.”

You can participate in the project by purchasing one of the Lokals from the NFT collection on the official website. This requires a Metamask wallet and an Ether token (ETH). However, Milivoj emphasizes that even without buying an NFT, you can join their Discord, which has about 2,600 members, follow the development of the project and participate in conversations with all team members and other project participants:

“Discord is where we talk directly to people who want to be a part of this project or already are. Here we share all the news, listen to comments and suggestions, socialize and develop the future of “The Lokals” world, which we plan to develop into The Lokals Metaverse.”

Although the collection is made and available for purchase, and they are slowly approaching the important figure of 1000 purchased Lokal NFTs, the film is still in the pre-production phase where the foundations for the entire film are being built. The visuals have been resolved, and they have the first draft of the script ready:

“However, there is still a lot of work to be done. First, of course, we must close the financial structure of the entire project. The current global macro-political economic situation has given us the biggest problem, which affects all aspects of the financial sector, including crypto, which is closely related to our project.

Fortunately, we are looking for financing largely outside that sector, and we also expect the recovery of the crypto market, which will further help in bringing the project to life.”

Prime Render Studios has excellent and long-term cooperation with HAVC, so they are optimistic about partnership for this project, but also with two large Oscar-winning French production companies:

“We were also invited to present the project at this year’s Animafest – an international animation festival, which we did, with great interest from the audience.”

As the film is in pre-production, it is still a bit early to give a release date, Milivoj points out. We are talking about a long but exciting process that can be followed through weekly vlogs on Prime Render Studios YouTube channel:

“This is a unique opportunity to participate in it through developing the script, animatics, visuals, characters, animation, and everything else that makes up an animated film!”

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.


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