Interview: moment.  – A Short Film NFT by J.Harry Edmiston
If you head over to any of the NFT marketplaces you will see an incredibly diverse range of work, from crypto-toy collectibles to pixelated punks, animated 3D sculptures, cute characters, music works, and paintings. While there are also many NFTs that use video, I have not seen a lot of work by traditional filmmakers yet. I have been in many conversations where the potential for NFTs in the film world has been contemplated and I think there are many areas where film-making can benefit from the NFT ecosystem. But I was completely and pleasantly surprised when I saw “moment. ” drop on the Zora platform this week by London-based director & photographer, J.Harry Edmiston. I hit play on the video not really knowing what to expect and for 1 minute and 55 seconds, I was drawn into a stunningly beautiful short film that is pure joy.
I don’t want to describe the film because I think it just needs to be experienced but I will tell that being able to tell a story in under 2 minutes without dialogue is nearly impossible – but J.Harry Edmiston was able to create a genuine human connection and has he describes it, “confront the viewer with a moment of humanity, through which one can gain subjective perspective and an enriched positive image of what it means to be human.”
I interviewed J.Harry Edmiston to put some context around the film, discuss his process and how he sees NFTs and film-making evolving.
Can you tell us a bit about your previous work and what inspired you to produce a short film as an NFT?
I’ve had an extensive career in production, I have both worked for and run creative agencies and have produced and directed campaigns for numerous global brands. For the most part, I have spent the last 10 years on the road (or on a plane as the case may be) traveling to remote locations to film until Covid hit in 2020. I have since made an unconscious move back into film and photography as a medium of artistic expression, which is actually where it all began for me.
I was recently commissioned to do a campaign launch documentary film for Leica on photographer and activist Misan Harriman, a music video for Rachel Chinoriri x Miu Miu (http://www.j-harry-edmiston.com/motion) amongst other editorial shoots. My wife is a stylist (of //Zadrian + Sarah.), they are represented by the Wall Group and when we do get to work together it becomes a family affair!
The NFT journey is fairly new to me and I simply put, feel like a child again. The steep learning curve has been less an arduous task and more an obsession and there seems to be no limit to human potential.
I recently had an accident that left me house-bound and on crutches, tuned into the Clubhouse channels probably more thank I like to admit and I have taken to exploring the NFT space with some zeal with the assistance, guidance and support of far too many people to mention and thank. The community is other-worldly and it’s certainly fuelling a cultural revolution. The limit in the space as a creator is quite literally your own imagination and the authenticity of some of the other voices is at times life-giving.
This past year has allowed me the time to go through the archives and really focus on the work that I actually want to be doing in conjunction with putting works together that I have wanted to share and put out into the world without until now, the time nor medium to do so.
Your film tells such a beautiful story in such a short time. The effort that went into planning and shooting must have been intense. Can you tell us a bit about your creative process to plan and shoot the “moment”?
Location-based and remote filming has become a bizarre familiarity. If all logistics and planning are taken care of properly it becomes nothing more than an incredible way to see the world. We’re good at it, but of course, we all learn through mistakes, trial and error – I’ve made a few! Agile teams are often the way to go for this sort of thing, it’s a preference for me and provides optimal flexibility. On this particular trip, it was an ambitious two-man team with more gear than we could carry. Shooting on the incredibly cumbersome Arri Alexa with a large set of vintage anamorphic primes and everything that comes with that became perhaps the biggest undertaking. Jonathan Iles (OneStop Films), my DOP, is nothing less than an absolute badass and genius rolled into one and it seems the more extreme the environments or impossible the objectives, the more sincere the work ethic is for both of us. He seldom says no to anything (by choice) and we’ve found ourselves in some pretty hairy situations over the years!
In this instance, the film’s subject and focus was more an unexpected discovery on our travels. A snapshot of life so distant and so beautiful that we changed our schedule, returned the next day mucked in and just went to town. It’s the first in a series of films like it, where the intention is to be more voyeuristic in approach to conventional documentary film.
Without any dialogue, each character that appears on-screen immediately connects with the viewer in a very endearing way. Can you tell us a bit about the people that you chose to be in the film?
I think the film is true to the nature of journalistic documentary capture. Those in the film were not cast and the narrative fully open to interpretation. We did little to direct those featured and any semblance of direction is only in part due to the few interactions we had with those featured while there. In a way, it feels like a homage to the Godfrey Reggio – QUATSI Trilogy or more recent BARAKA. Films that have always fascinated me from childhood.
In a silent film, the music is such an important part of the narrative. Can you speak about the music that you chose for the film?
It is a piece by a composer that I love called Anthony Vega entitled “The Candle Goes Out”. Akin to the work of Ludovico Einaudi, the work was not commissioned for the project, but I thought lends itself well to the human sentiment of the visual narrative.
The NFT space is developing rapidly but this is one of the first short films with this level of production value and storytelling that we have seen so far. Do you think NFTs will become a sustainable medium for filmmakers?
How kind of you to say! I am not aware of others and it’s been a bit of an undertaking trying to find the best route of options to making this series a reality. I think the tools that we use are paramount to the craft and we tend to do a lot the old-fashioned way. I guess it’s an interesting juxtaposition to the very futuristic nature of the NFT space.
The world of NFTs is a great medium. I believe that film, along with every other creative industry discipline are going to change a great deal due to the advent of the blockchain, and while moving quickly, it’s still early days. We are of course, all breaking new ground, but as it becomes more mainstream, we will most certainly see an uptake in how people get resourceful within the space.
I think the prospect of a full-scale paradigm shift with the conventional media-scape will be gradual, but it feels inevitable. I worked for a while in Broadcast Media and know-how glacial things can move. In the nearer future, I do envisage big moves in the commercial production space, perhaps by way of brand collaborations, which we are very keen to explore, but the real focus for us with this project is film as a raw artistic expression and yes, it’s most certainly going to be a sustainable medium for this.
I think some people will have questions regarding the smart contract when it comes to films. Is the collector purchasing a 1 of 1? Will the film be appearing in other places outside of the NFT? Can the collector show the film publicly?
I guess it really depends on what your objectives are as a filmmaker and whether that be as a storyteller or an artist, but the two are not of course mutually exclusive. The beautiful thing about the smart contract is that you can design it however you wish, whether that includes unlockable assets for additional content, links to online screenings in the metaverse or even merchandise.
Editions are a good consideration of which I have extensive experience from founding a photographic gallery in London some time ago, but there is often limited functionality on available platforms as is the ability to price structure as you require. All this will be figured out soon as better functionality will be rolled out across platforms existing and new. You have to weigh these things up and decide what you want to do and what works for you as a creator.
For this film in particular and subsequent others planned in the series, we have made the works 1 of 1 editions. moment. is our “Genesis” piece on the Zora platform, and we consider the series “works of art”. The film currently has no set purchase price and is in open auction to the highest bidder – we are hopeful, but not driven by monetary objective. We retain copyright so that it cannot be reproduced, but we are happy for the film to be shown publicly by the collector as would be the case for a conventional video or NFT artwork.
Do you have plans for future films as NFTs?
We do and would love to share more, but until things drop, it feels better to keep an element of surprise around what we’re working on! People should follow us on Twitter for future updates but we’d also love to hear from and help others wherever we can.
I would love to find a path to be doing more work in this vein and especially explore potential brand collaborations. I think we’re all looking forward to seeing what the future holds!
J.Harry Edmiston is a new renaissance creative in the NFT space, a frontier pusher and explorer who uses the camera lens as a medium and tool for visual narrative and storytelling. Bidding for “moment. ” is now open on Zora.
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