“We’re Gonna Get Scammed a Lot”: Blockhead Talks to Seth Green About Web3’s Early Days
My first introduction Seth Green was in 1997 through his iconic portrayal of Dr Evil’s quirky son Scott Evil in Austin Powers – and what an introduction it was. Only 6-years-old at the time, this writer has since grown up alongside Green’s multifacted career, observing it transcend the wackiest corners of film and TV, ever pushing the barriers of the industry.
Since, Green has yet again expanded his armoury by venturing into the world of NFTs. Sadly, Green’s Web3 journey has not been as smooth sailing as one would hope. A proud owner and member of the desirable Bored Ape Yacht Club, Green had planned to centre an upcoming TV series on his prized BAYC NFT.
However, in May 2022, Green fell victim to a phishing scam that would see his BAYC NFT escape from his wallet. US$300,000 and one month later, Green managed to retrieve the stolen NFT after relentlessly chasing its new owner.
Extending his bizarre foray into Web3 whilst staying loyal to his passions, Green’s next project is PizzaBot NFTs, focusing on the secret decathlon of pizza delivery. Partnering with fantasy art magazine HeavyMetal, the project allows its 6,969 NFT holders help the sentient PizzaBot character realise its potential.
As lifelong fans of Green and Web3 in almost equal measure, Blockhead sat down with the Hollywood star to learn more about his journey in the space.
CC: After achieving such a prolific film legacy, what made you want to jump into Web3?
SG: Well, I didn’t really see it as that significant of a leap. I spent my whole career trying to create new things and work with other people that are trying to make things that haven’t existed before or find ways to entertain audiences in new available formats and Web3 to me seems like the most organic extension of all of this digital creativity.
I was an early adopter to the most basic internet, producing linear content for Sony back when the internet was still dial-up; it was a place where you could make things that weren’t ready for regular television or connect with an audience that was a little more counterculture of mainstream. That’s where Robot Chicken came from.
We made out a series of animated sketches and comedy shorts using action figures for dial up based internet. We then used all that media to sell a show to add sponsored cable. So me jumping into new tech or new formats. it’s not irregular, it feels like a natural evolution.
CC: Why NFTs in particular?
SG: I had no interest in NFTs when it was being discussed as a commodity, or like a certificate of authenticity for, you know, blockchain geography. That doesn’t excite me. But as soon as NFTs cross over into art and collectible space, well then you have my interest.
As soon as NFTs are about all of these artists gathering a passionate fan base around their art, ideas and intellectual property, that’s very interesting to me. And then when you have something as large as a viable NFT collection and the developmental rights are given to each of the holders, then you have a community based creative experience around an idea that everybody loves.
The analogy I’ve been using is The Smurfs – if you as a group were able to represent The Smurfs and then you collectively were The Smurfs, that’s a very different kind of storytelling capability than has ever been possible before.
For you as an individual to be able to represent a single character in a larger collective and still be able to claim that larger collective, it’s a different kind of creativity that I’ve seen before and I’m interested in it.
CC: What specifically about the BAYC project attracted you the most to the extent of wanting to construct an entire TV series (White Horse Tavern) on it?
SG: I really just loved those character designs. When I got introduced to the apes, it was so early that the idea of a pseudonymous identity that was applicable in web3 but also used anywhere – I’d thought about that a lot.
I’d had different actors who were singers ask me about animating a version of them to do what the Gorillas had done: create a pseudonymous pop star. You can have an actor that would never be thought of as a pop star and do the music that they passionately enjoy performing but culturally couldn’t get any leeway into being able to express.
If you’re John Krasinski and everybody knows you as John Krasinski, but secretly, you can really sing and you want to be able to express that, but no one will look at John Krasinski singing Kiss music, right? Like RZA becoming Bobby Digital – he’s created an entire alter ego for himself.
I’ve spent a lot of my career hiring all kinds of artists to help me create a pseudonymous identity or iconic character or some kind of original design.
The thing with NFTs is you’re suddenly able to not only buy into that community yet have a character that represents what you feel is this expression of your own but you’re also automatically joined into a much larger community of 10,000 people, with that kind of grassroots, passion and collective enthusiasm and creativity.
My whole play with the Bored Apes is not that I want to make a show about the apes and their history and all the characters – that’s a whole secondary story. My thing is that I’ve got a character. I love the way he looks. I have ideas about his personality, his history, his friends, his goals. That’s the story that I’m gonna tell him. The fact that he is part of a larger collective, the fact that he has 9,000 other relatives – that’s a whole different story.
CC: How do you see NFTs fitting into the film industry, and is there enough incentive for Hollywood to embrace web3?
SG: I think it’s just depends on the intent of the creators. If Betty and Psych had a massive idea for what the Deadfellaz universe was going to and how all these characters fit together, they could tell it as a movie or series of single panel cartoons. That’s going to be the adoption.
We’re going to see these characters and these artists be accepted and represented in much larger projects but I don’t think one replaces the other.
Hollywood always follows money. What attracted Hollywood to Comic Con was there suddenly started to be a ton of money. People realised that San Diego was not just a collection of nerds and the unwashed but a gathering place for very passionate people who had money to spend on stuff that made them feel connected to others. Hollywood came to Comic Con and thought “maybe we can make a Daredevil movie, maybe Batman is worth more money than we thought.” It was a shift.
The upside of that is that you see a massive investment towards the quality of the offerings, rather than Hollywood thinking that there is no money to be made and ignoring these valuable intellectual properties, stories or characters as a whole.
Look at Kevin Smith, his whole pitch is that the audience can do whatever they want with it, they can rewrite it. They can recut it, they can re-release it. That’s a fascinating idea. All it’s gonna do is generate awareness around a project that nobody had ever heard of, and it’s gonna engage an audience in their own creativity to put their money where their mouth is.
CC: You recently made headlines for having your Bored Ape stolen, can you walk us through what happened?
SG: The concept of a digital certificate of authenticity has existed since the start of the internet but the concept of monetizing it or commodifying it, that’s the brand new thing. It needs an overhaul from a security standpoint. Metamask at the very least could create an all-caps bold warning that alerts you that you’re about to make an unlimited transfer or that alerts you that you have that you’re approving and unlimited gas fee. Even simple warnings built into the platform itself would protect users. But because this concept was never meant to be applied this way, it’s still resting on an ancient technology that doesn’t provide enough oversight.
So what happened to me is incredibly common. I set up all my wallets on separate hard wallets, I have ones that hold currency that can be used to purchase or exchange but you never really plug a vault wallet into the main system. You just never make it that vulnerable unless you’re doing something that requires a view of what’s in your wallet to authorise a new mint, which is what I was doing.
Well frens it happened to me. Got phished and had 4NFT stolen. @BoredApeYC @opensea @doodles @yugalabs please don’t buy or trade these while I work to resolve:@DarkWing84 looks like you bought my stolen ape- hit me up so we can fix it pic.twitter.com/VL1OVnd44m— Seth Green (@SethGreen) May 17, 2022
When I made the transaction approval to mint, what I thought was a new NFT. it authorized removal of these assets from I want which is apparently incredibly common. The fact that it’s so common should really be the loudest warning to anybody in this community that something significant has to change. It’s an exploitation of a smart contract detail that’s never meant to be used this way. So the users can’t be responsible for this. It’s like arming teachers. You know, this is the thing that needs to get solved within the hardware for all of the users.
I think if users complain enough or if people withhold their participation from these platforms until it’s solved, that’s the only thing that’s gonna help. For me I’ve used the resources at my disposal. I reached out to the community to help track the NFT themselves and contacted the people that had purchased them.
Good news frens, @DarkWing84 & I connected- working together to prosecute the original thieves & hopefully make this space safer.— Seth Green (@SethGreen) May 30, 2022
Huge thanks to @BoredApeYC community for maintaining the collaborative spirit of the project. Can’t wait to see you at #WhiteHorseTavern
It’s a process but one that I’m only able to follow because I’ve got the means, patience and resources but I’ve known people bought an ape at $225 then it grew to half a million dollars and had them stolen and does not have the ability to pursue it.
Even then you’re reaching out to other people in the community who have purchased something legally to then give it up. That’s just not realistic.
CC: What would your advice be for us regular folk to protect ourselves?
SG: My advice is let’s all make noise to the people that are manufacturing the hard wallets and contracts – that’s the stuff that needs adjustment. We as the users are able to make improvements that we can together.
80% of the people who responded to my Twitter were supportive, saying “I’m in this community, here’s what I did, watch out for this.” Only 20% were like “go fuck yourself you rich asshole give me a million dollars.” The majority of people were proving what we’re investing in: the support of the community.
There’s a wealth of chest beating crypto bros who are looking to flip and looking to make a ton of money and are not interested in the kind of communal connection that I’m seeing an influx of from the side of the artists and fans.
And there’s gonna be a bit of a reckoning between those two personalities, because they’re both true in this space. And anyone that’s getting into this space is going to witness both sides of it. It’s a bit of an obstacle towards mass adoption.
CC: Looking ahead, where is the Web3 space headed?
SG: I went to VeeCon this year and there were like 10,000 people there. It’s like going to a Comic-Con in ’95, where you could buy a day pass on the Saturday.
We’re all so early to this space that we’re gonna get scammed a lot. We’re gonna have to suffer the wrath of all people who don’t understand what’s happening and, and we’re gonna have to be patient, but we’re also gonna get to do this stuff and set the tone and say how it should feel, and why it’s even worth doing.
This next year is gonna be bananas.