Mintbase talks to the group that created an audiovisual platform for immigrants
CUDO DAO was founded by four Brazilian artists living in Lisbon. With a very positive approach to audiovisual — “Do it! In any way possible. Just do it!”–, Heverton, Thiago, Lucas, and Talita, are transforming immigrant life stories into powerful images and offering international artists a possibility to create and earn money with their art.
Heverton, Thiago, Lucas, and Talita come all from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Even though they have different backgrounds, their love for films, art, photography, and stories brought them together. Created last year, CUDO DAO is not only giving a voice and a face for immigrants in front of the camera but also a possibility of artistic expression for the ones behind it.
Their project started last year and already has a consistent collection of videos, photos, and illustrations, produced in collaboration with other artists inhabiting the NEAR ecosystem and using NEAR protocol. The audiovisual pieces are minted in NFTs and can be found on their Mintbase store. “Mintbase ensures that we can monetize our creations through our own smart contract. This is essential for us to keep our projects sustainable”.
CUDO DAO talked to us about their project, the challenges of immigrant’s life, and their plans for the future.
Could you tell us about your background?
Our backgrounds are very diverse. Besides being a musician, a journalist, and having a master’s degree in Political Science, Heverton has been a videomaker for almost ten years. Thiago studied Geography, but his passion for photography has driven him out of the academic field. Lucas has always been into visual arts, especially illustration, which has directed him into pursuing a career as a graphic designer. Talita was always involved in administrative work, which has turned out to be of great value: She is responsible for our production department.
Even though we know each other from our hometown, our bonds have grown stronger in Lisbon. Mainly because our careers and specific skill sets were pushed aside and, like many other immigrants, we had to deal with sub-jobs to make ends meet. Those difficulties and struggles ended up bringing us closer and creating a support network.
How and why have you decided to create CUDO DAO?
CUDO DAO started when Heverton was invited by one of Incubadora’s council members to create a project of video portraits, História de Bagagem (Luggage Story). After getting familiarized with NEAR Ecosystem workflow and História de bagagem first edition was concluded, Heverton was encouraged to create a new DAO that could bring another view to the NEAR community. Given that CUDO FILMES (a producing company created by Heverton and Thiago in 2015) already had an audiovisual portfolio, we thought the DAO structure could be a good fit for our company. And so, CUDO DAO was launched with the original partners, Thiago and Heverton, plus the new member Lucas e Talita. CUDO FILMES continues to be our commercial company, whereas CUDO DAO became our extra arm focused on artistic productions and other audiovisual projects relevant to Lisbon’s immigrant community — be it as a target audience or as collaborators.
How would you summarize the core of what you are doing?
We are building the means and bridges that would allow the opportunities offered by NEAR to reach the possible biggest number of people. Our greatest goal is to make CUDO DAO a solid platform capable of reaching the maximum of immigrant workers and making it possible for them to build their projects, their art, and, of course, allowing them to have a means of subsistence.
Do you think that immigrants have a different perspective on places and stories?
Absolutely. We believe that being an immigrant gives you a very attentive and analytical point of view that is completely strange to the natives. Thanks to all the adaptation hardships, we were forced to observe and constantly search for opportunities and possibilities.
Last year, you created four new projects. Can you tell us the stories behind those series and how they have developed?
In our creative portfolio, we strive to encompass as much diversity as possible in the sense of what the term “audiovisual” offers.
That said, História de bagagem (Luggage Story) is a documentary project that offers Lisbon’s immigrants a place to be heard and record their stories. In February, we will start its 4th edition with five new videos. We aim to gather enough footage to edit it in a mid-length film in the months to come.
Algo me diz (Something Tells Me) explores the two sides of the word audiovisual by capturing images and voicing the chronicles written by guest writers. This project aims to present touristic sights in a new way by bringing the audience into a chronicled journey that goes beyond the “hey, look at this” feel.
Vértebra, our best project in Mintbase, is our effort to reach illustrators and bring new colors and styles to our store. Each month we think of ways to mix it up, be it in the project briefing or the selection of artists.
Lastly, Postal targets photographers. Throughout 2021 this project has allowed us to create an immigration map with perspectives from different parts of the world (Brazil, Serbia, Spain, Israel, Portugal, and Ireland), thanks to the lenses of photographers who answered our call. In 2022, we reframed the project, which will ensure more visibility to a wider range of photographers through our DAO.
For Algo me diz the images are made with a mobile phone. How does it work on other projects? How would you describe the way you work and your style?
CUDO DAO’s projects are made according to their budget limitations. The funds are always scaled to ensure their sustainability and success. Given this, we resort to our creativity to find interesting ways to shoot each video. For example, we shoot História de bagagem with a professional camcorder, but always during the day, thus ensuring that no artificial lighting is required. However, there are some projects, like Retrato falado that we will launch in the coming weeks, which make use of the entire audiovisual structure that we have at our disposal. It means artificial lighting, cinema lenses, professional cameras, stabilizers, and scenery. In short, we believe that our style of work and the vibe within our community is “Do it! In any way possible. Just do it!”
What kind of collaboration do you have with Near and Mintbase?
NEAR provides something paramount: resources. Besides the financial aspects, the NEAR Ecosystem enlarges our set of opportunities and enables us to access partners and collaborators. In turn, Mintbase ensures that we can monetize our creations through our own smart contract/online store. This is essential for us to keep our projects sustainable.
Do you also collaborate with other projects on Mintbase?
Mintbase is a partner of great value, and its accessibility ends up bringing us together to other stores. That was the case for the partnership of Algo me diz with MARMA J, which resulted in the addition of Talita to their group of minters. We can also find in the same MARMA J store works by the plastic artist Maliza, a member of our community. Visual pieces by Lucas can be found in stores such as muti DAO and Incubadora DAO. Some works of Heverton are available in stores, such as Incubadora DAO and NxM DAO. He has even created a store for his music band, See More Glass Project.
How do you work with artists, photographers, and video makers?
We organize ourselves horizontally, despite the council’s coordinating role. We consider of great importance the work opportunities we provide through NEAR Forum and our open Telegram group. We see our community as a support network. That makes assigning and carrying out each task in an easy, friendly way, and in solidarity while making sure that more and more tasks are distributed to different professionals. After budgeting each project, the payment is made in NEAR tokens in a pre-established fee that is public in NEAR Forum. Besides that, every time a project is turned into a NFT, we make sure that the sales revenue is redistributed between everyone involved.
What are your plans for 2022?
In 2022 we want to get closer and closer to our objective of guaranteeing access to audiovisual work to immigrants. We are reframing existing projects in our portfolio and opening new possibilities, be them exclusive to CUDO DAO, like our pilot project Retrato falado, or in partnership with muti DAO (music sessions) and Incubadora DAO (a similar project to História de bagagem focused on artists). New projects will keep coming, and our team and community will continue to envision ways to bring them to life.