Link to grants website proposal: Gallery View: Zcash Community Grants Program
We received a series of grants since last August in an effort to create and launch Zcash Media. Over the course of those grants, we created two short documentaries, established a marketing team for Zcash Media, branded the channel, launched the channel, and began building a community within the Zcash Ecosystem. Here is the trailer for the Zcash Media Channel:
During the launch, we collaborated with many members of the Zcash Community and coordinated an effort to synchronize a wave of enthusiasm with the release of our content, resulting in hundreds of thousands of views. We are proud to say the launch was as successful as we had hoped and the community’s feedback on our content was incredibly positive. This invigorated our hopes of building out this channel with ongoing, consistent content.
Thus, for this grant, we aim to build on our previous effort and continue towards our goal of creating a hub of educational content to help audiences understand the mission and importance of Zcash.
If our previous goal was to launch Zcash Media, then the goal of our 2022-2023 grant is to sustain and scale. We want to sustain Zcash Media with consistent monthly content and scale our operations so we can continue to improve our efficiency, quality, and output over time.
We will continue in our goal of building a voice for Zcash and an archive of lasting content that can be used by the community as educational resources.
Zcash Media aims to inspire audiences by producing cutting edge educational documentaries about Zcash and how its technology could create an optimistic future for our society.
We are open to receiving funding from other sources, either through crowdfunding or from other privacy focused organizations. However, we have not received funding from any one other than Zcash Community Grants at this time.
37 Laines - Production Company
37 Laines is an award winning film production company run by Natasha Mynhier and Jeff Hammerton. Out of our offices in Santa Monica, CA, 37 Laines produces high quality creative work and science communication content, including documentaries, branded content, commercials, short films, music videos, digital content, web-series, and live events. Our team has created content for brands like Netflix, Marvel, ESPN, and Vogue, is currently producing a documentary about backcountry adventure skiing presented by North Face, and won Gold at the 2020 Cannes Young Directors Awards for our short film, In A Beat. Examples of 37 Laines work can be found here: https://www.37laines.com/.
The 37 Laines team members that would be contributing to this grant are listed here:
- Director / Producer - Natasha Mynhier
- Overall vision, interfaces with Zcash Ecosystem, supports throughout entire process - scripting, production, editing, and marketing
- Producer / Writer / Advisor - David Boyer
- Crypto expertise, overall vision, interfaces with Zcash Ecosystem, provides notes on cuts and marketing initiatives, supports community management and events
- Producer / Operations Manager - Jeff Hammerton
- Maximizes efficiency, coordination, and quality of the production systems through research, feedback, designing workflows, and building project management assets.
- Line Producer - Lisa McGuire
- Overseeing all aspects of schedule, budget, payroll, task management, and handles legal and clearances
- Writers - Paul Dallman and Joe Gentle (two others on rotation)
- Outlines topics, writes scripts, interfaces with logic editor
- Researcher / Editor - Shawn
- Provides research to writers, edits scripts for accuracy
- Logic Editor - Edgar Sardarian
- Creates rough cut, adds in interviews, interfaces with writers and finishing editors to ensure a logically accurate cut
- Story Editors - Anthony Parisi and Pete Szijarto
- Adds entertainment value to the edit, creates motion graphics, marries all aspects when finalized, fine tuning, adds final voiceover, uploads for broadcast
- Animation - Very True Story
- Creates animations at the direction of editor and director
- VFX - Anthony Parisi
- Hologram effects and any other touches/special effects
- Sound Design and Mix - Shaughnessy Hare and Zack Howard
- Design, edit and mix all aspects of sound
- Color - Arianna Shining Star
- Builds color for every episode, LUTs for each interview
- Social Media Producer - Claire Glassford
- Oversees and coordinates marketing team, manages tasks, oversees short form content creation, organizes and supports story creation for social media content
- Digital Strategist - Jess Carroll
- Posts/optimizes YouTube videos, manages targeted ads, manages Sprout Social, creates subtitles, strategizes YouTube growth and networks with relevant influencers, creates quarterly analytics reports
- Growth Strategist and Community Building - Kevan Shah
- Manages Zcash Telegram, plans and hosts topical monthly Twitter spaces, manages events, strategizes Twitter growth and networks with relevant influencers, supports creation of monthly Twitter story arcs, supports community management
- Community Manager - Rekodi
- Engages with community daily (YouTube/Twitter), tracks sentiments/interests, strategizes Twitter influencer coordination, researches relevant social media content/events to be utilized by content teams, supports events
- Design - Autumn Schrock
- Creates all social posts, templates, logos, and design elements. Also supports motion graphics for main content and social media content
- Social Content Editor - Multiple Editors on Rotation
- creating all social cutdowns, trailers, etc.
Our team believes that Zcash has the unique opportunity to bring a fair and private currency to those taking part in the fast arriving digital economy. However, to get to this future, a clear vision of the importance of ZEC needs to be painted so that hundreds of thousands of users can get on board and hundreds more developers / visionaries are motivated to contribute their efforts.
Our mission is to build an educational hub for Zcash that helps communicate the vision for ZEC to the wider public through high-quality marketable and freely accessible videos, building on what we have started with our initial videos. With these videos as tools, we hope to increase global understanding of Zcash’s technology and mission, and inspire others to advocate for the ideals that Zcash stands for.
Here we detail a few of the challenges Zcash faces that we aim to tackle.
Despite how widely crypto is discussed these days, it is still abundantly apparent that the general public does not know about Zcash, zero-knowledge proofs, the Zcash community, or how Zcash and its underlying technology applies to their lives. This lack of awareness prevents mass adoption of the numerous benefits enabled by Zcash: control over one’s financial privacy, self-custody of wealth, and freedom to send money to anyone in the world privately without a trusted middleman. In addition, the lack of awareness prevents general audiences, as well as those in the crypto community, from getting excited about future applications of Zcash and its technology (e.g., Zcash shielded assets, L1 scalability, privacy preserving communication applications, Zcash and DeFi). This could lead to Zcash remaining “under the radar” indefinitely and missing out on user adoption to other privacy preserving cryptocurrency technologies. This is a major risk in open source projects since community size and user adoption are major protective factors against competitive projects.
Beyond the problem of a lack of awareness about Zcash, there is a steep learning curve for those that are interested in educating themselves about Zcash. This is due to the newness and technological complexity of Zcash, let alone cryptocurrencies in general. We believe this is a major problem that needs to be addressed in order to fulfill the promises of Zcash to be accessible to all. There should be as few barriers as possible to becoming a knowledgeable participant in the Zcash technology and community. Similar to a successful democracy relying on an informed populace, the success and mass adoption of Zcash will be facilitated by reducing information asymmetry that exists between new and established participants.
As we all know the “wen moon” video content creates a toxic and unstable climate, often reinforced by inaccurate YouTubers who feed off of this viewership. And this issue extends to mainstream media as well. This obsession with price is an existential threat to the cryptocurrency industry, because it is the central distraction from the ideologies that could improve our world (i.e. decentralization, improved coordination, economic freedom, consent, etc).
This is why accurate, balanced, high quality videos are incredibly valuable. When scams and price news are fogging up the space and when market crashes have people worried, we need clarifying information that acts as a guiding light for navigating this complex landscape. Ideas change the world and Zcash embodies the ideas that are central to understanding the potential of what could be built. Zcash Media has a huge opportunity to consolidate the many incredible ideas floating around the Zcash space and synthesize them into digestible content.
The failure of privacy-preserving technology to become the default for the various aspects of digital human existence would be catastrophically bad for human society. We believe that without education on the nuanced privacy issues necessary to protect our impending digital world, many average people and regulators may not understand these fundamental issues and may then vote or invest in dangerous choices. Education is the most important investment to protect against ignorant decision making.
In addition, owing to the especially tricky messaging around privacy and finance, we believe without carefully planned and executed education on why Zcash is good for society, it may not reach large scale adoption.
To overcome the lack of awareness about Zcash and help new and existing users better understand Zcash’s current / future uses, we propose the creation of 12 new videos. The completed videos would be released once a month on Zcash Media’s channels with ongoing marketing in support of the growth of this content.
As we demonstrated with our first two videos, we believe it is vital that we uphold the Zcash ethos of quality work and ensure that any current or future ZEC holders associate Zcash with the quality and high integrity efforts that Zcash developers maintain. Our educational efforts should support this not only with the quality of the production, but also with the reliability of the resources/ideas we provide viewers. Thus, Zcash Media aims to build a reputation where, like MasterClass, audiences are ensured that thoughtful effort went into the production of reliable and balanced content.
Some key features we aim to include are:
- Well synthesized ideas necessary for understanding and navigating this complex topic (this is the most time consuming challenge since it involves 4-5 people focusing on clarifying, scripting, and editing accurate materials),
- Consistent content releases to grow followers,
- Content that is freely available on multiple platforms,
- Entertainment value to the edits that keep the user interested,
- Content that opens a direct line for ‘vision communication’ with Zcash fans/potential Zcash fans,
- Frequent communication with audiences to answer any questions and direct them to follow up resources (connecting them with ZF/ECC educational materials).
- A growing platform on YouTube and Twitter that can serve as a digital meeting place for the Zcash community to exchange ideas
The solution format will be videos released on Zcash Media’s YouTube and Odysee channels, as well as short form videos and content released on Zcash Media’s Twitter.
In the vein of similar quality shows like Netflix’s Explained, we plan to treat the production of our content in the same manner as they treat this kind of TV series production. For our long form content, there are four phases, Development (Pre-Production), Production (capturing any remaining content), Post Production (the ongoing editing), and Distribution/Marketing (driving awareness). And in order to improve engagement during the waiting periods between our long form content, we will also be producing ongoing short form marketing content.
- Prepping / Transcribing / Logging Footage / Content Database creation
- Research: Collecting background knowledge
- Season Planning: Ensure that each episode in the 12 videos of the year offers non-redundant, high value information that fits together into the greater arc of the season
- Writing Scripts
- Using Content Database to identify interview quotes for use in episodes
- Analysis of community interests / Target audiences
- Topics for episodes established accordingly
- Interviews (In person or Zoom)
- B-roll (any secondary footage - backgrounds for holograms, lifestyle, etc)
- Logic Editor (Rough cut where story is clearly outlined)
- Sourcing B-roll / historical footage
- Finishing Editors (Visual Effects, Color, Motion Graphics, Music, Placeholder Animatics - all resulting in Picture Lock Cut)
- Social Media Content Editor (ongoing short form content creation)
- Sound Design
- Final Conform (Finishing editors perform this task and release to Marketing)
Distribution / Marketing
- Twitter Content Calendar designed to elaborate and provide complementary content for the release of each month’s video
- Writing high integrity social posts (goal of providing additional value to followers with interesting information)
- Social Media Posts (created by producer, designer, and social content editor)
- YouTube/Odysee Optimization Materials and Testing
- Title, Thumbnail, Description, End Cards
- Ongoing A/B testing and comparison research
- Topic analysis for upcoming content (what are the keywords, searches, questions that will help audiences find our content and get the answers they want)
- Paid Media (testing various ads and continuing to improve targeting)
- Analytics across all platforms
- Press Releases (when necessary for newsworthy content)
- Events (e.g., Twitter spaces)
- Influencer campaigns / outreach
- Community Management
As with our last grants, our target audiences remain the same. We aim to prioritize crypto newbies (Tier 0) and average current crypto fans (Tier 1). For examples of this, note our first video Future Money: What Is Zcash? as an example of targeting crypto newbies. And our second video about John Dobbertin, which targeted current crypto fans. For this proposed year of videos, we will largely stick with Tier 0 and Tier 1 audiences, while future work may focus on more specific or high skill topics.
We have already begun dissecting the data from our first two video releases, leading to analyses found in our previous marketing report -
We will continue to use this data to refine our target audiences. This will shape not only the content of the videos we make, but also our release strategies.
We intend on releasing 12 videos (one per month). However, it is possible that improved workflows could allow us to produce videos faster and speed up the release schedules. Nonetheless, for the estimates in this grant we want to set expectations at an achievable level (1 video per month for 12 months).
Our long form content will continue to be distributed on YouTube and Odysee and our short form social media content will target primarily Twitter. Across these platforms we will continue to perform tests in an effort to optimize our distribution, using metrics such as click-through rate and view duration to measure the effectiveness of these distribution experiments (see Evaluation section).
The reason we have decided to target Twitter as our primary platform to complement our YouTube/Odysee channels is because although we had moderate success on Facebook and Instagram in our previous releases, we want to focus our efforts and learn how to grow Zcash Media to be a large voice on Crypto Twitter. Gaining a large audience on Twitter would greatly enable us to share our ideas and compete with the most influential voices in the crypto industry. We will dual post everything that goes on Twitter to our Telegram channel in order to be able to share our announcements with the various Zcash and other crypto communities we are engaged with.
In support of our previous two episodes, we released a wave of marketing materials and ran ads that resulted in hundreds of thousands of views, and over 2k subscribers in less than a month on both our YouTube and Twitter. However, as we detailed in the analytics report above, we also tried certain marketing strategies that did not work out as well as we’d hoped. For instance, the poor market conditions meant that the Telegram channels we advertised in were quieter than we had hoped (and those that remained in the channels were hoping to discuss price, not education). We also released two press releases to generate awareness for our first two videos since they marked the launch of our channel and the reveal of John Dobbertin. Although the press releases were shown to be very effective, in this next phase we will focus more on organic community growth on YouTube and Twitter and use targeted press releases to amplify any future newsworthy events.
Due to the time consuming nature of building a responsive community through grassroots efforts - individually messaging community members, responding to feedback, and hosting events - we have allocated resources in our budget estimate to spend more on people and less on ads, including hiring a community manager to keep up with the thousands of engagements that occur during the release of our videos.
As much as we believe our videos should be high integrity and valuable to our viewers, we aim to have our marketing offer similar value. We want to go beyond awareness based posting and strive to offer new and helpful insights in our social media content. We currently plan to release 1 month long campaigns on Twitter in support of the topic of that month’s video. Rather than experience redundant content, if viewers follow us on both Twitter and YouTube they should experience complementary content that delves deeper into the ideas behind that month’s topic.
We therefore built a similar workflow for our short-form social media content (for an overview of this workflow, please view the Milestones and Deliverables section). In short, the team will research and ideate content based on the topic of the month, a writer will work to draft posts, and a small editing team will recreate their ideas in photo and video forms. Each month we will host a Twitter Spaces, for instance after the release of a video, to serve as a gathering place to discuss the ideas for that month’s topic. We will also enlist educated Zcashers such as Rekodi to respond to audiences and direct them to helpful resources on Zcash and its related topics.
Based on the feedback on the forums, the community responded well to seeing our analytics reflections last time. We want to continue to involve the community in our thinking and the natural changes that develop over the course of a long term project such as this. We will provide quarterly marketing reports that will summarize our channels’ analytics and detail both the effective and ineffective strategies we’ve applied. We will continue to leave room for adjusting strategies and reallocating resources as circumstances change over time.
We are not dependent on any other entity to complete our grant. However, we welcome coordinating with ZF, ECC, ZCG, and the community in our effort to share up to date and accurate educational materials, as well as support marketing initiatives.
Fortunately, our proposal is not of an engineering or extremely technical nature and all
technical aspects of the project have been done for previous media campaigns 37
Laines has produced (see Applicant Background).
In our last grant proposal, we mentioned an execution risk of being reliant on interviewees agreeing to be interviewed. However even this risk is mitigated this time since we are mostly working from footage we captured in the last grant.
Our greatest challenge this round will be maintaining a consistent production speed. This means our team needs to be prepared to maintain coordination over a longer duration which offers new operational challenges. We have attempted to mitigate this risk by adding two additional producers to the project (Jeff and Lisa) who are focusing almost exclusively on operations.
By highlighting different community members in our videos, we risk an unintended downside if anyone featured in our videos were to have something negative in their history or future come to light. Since our videos would associate them with Zcash, the negative attention they receive might reflect on Zcash. However, this is a risk for any media project and is not especially unique for what we propose here.
As witnessed during the production process of our previous two videos, we frequently solicited feedback from leaders throughout the Zcash Ecosystem as well as the interviewees. We also plan to continue to solicit feedback from interested community members during the ideation and post-production phases of our workflow in order to improve the quality of our content.
Additionally, we will work with people more familiar with the technical components represented in our videos to ensure their accuracy and understandability. For instance, last time we worked with Sean Bowe on our animations to ensure they accurately represented things such as what happens when you make a Zcash transaction on your phone.
Once finalized videos are distributed, evaluation metrics include: engagement numbers for posted videos (i.e., likes, shares, views), YouTube/Odysee subscriber counts, and similar internet engagement metrics. This will be documented in quarterly analytics reports such as the report we released at the completion of our first two videos.
Below we outline proposed goals for distribution metrics and channel growth, which are based off of the stats from our first two videos. However as crypto markets continue to deteriorate for the time being, these stats may become increasingly challenging to reach. Nonetheless, we will optimize every video we make to not only be widely shareable upon release, but contain relevant information for many crypto cycles to come. Also, as our channels get larger, it may become easier to gain new subscribers, potentially counteracting the effect of a bear market and leading us to exceed our KPIs.