A feature film on Bitcoin, called “Banking on Bitcoin”, is set to be released on January 6, 2017. Produced by Gravitas Ventures, the film will cover many of the space’s best-known players, such as Charlie Shrem, Barry Silbert, Erik Voorhees, Nathaniel Popper and more.
Bitcoin.com spoke with director Christopher Cannucciari, the film’s director, about why he set out to make a bitcoin film.
“Set to change the world”
Why did you choose to make a bitcoin film?
CC: It’s interesting. It’s an open-source project, so everyone brings to it what they can. I can’t program. I hoped to bring what I could with filmmaking to the world of bitcoin, and to a wider audience, who have maybe heard about Bitcoin, Mt. Gox, Charlie Shrem and the Silk Road.
The film doesn’t pretend these things didn’t happen, but hopes to provide some context. Maybe they were judged harshly or maybe these things are necessary for something to grow like bitcoin has. You have to take the good with the bad and see what you are left with. At the end of the day, bitcoin is this open-source project so powerful it is changing people’s lives.
BN: What was your experience with bitcoin when you started filming more than three years ago?
CC: I came as a complete outsider to bitcoin in 2013, though I was always interested the technology. I come to it with a filmmaker’s perspective. I had had one experience with digital currency. I worked on a short documentary in Africa in 2008, where there was political turmoil and the banks were closed. Pre-Safaricom in east Africa, instead of people trading money from one end of country to the other, they traded phone credits.
Using phone credits was an organic homegrown idea that arose out of the necessity. That was a novel idea and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t that be cool if we could be so forward thinking here in the US or developed world. When bitcoin was on the rise in 2012-2013, I was watching it keenly to see if this could be that next step in the evolution of money, and I think it is. I was really attracted to the idea of emailable money.
The Bitcoin Community
What jumped out at you while making the film?
CC: The community behind getting bitcoin into the mainstream has been amazing. There were all these cypherpunks in the nineties. They had this idea of cryptocurrency, and maybe others before that. It really took an upswell of the bitcoin community to get the novel idea of bitcoin on the map. That was awesome to see.
No End Point to Bitcoin
What was the hardest part of making a film about bitcoin?
CC: The hardest thing is, ‘When do you stop filming a story about bitcoin?’ There is no end point to bitcoin. For me, the film became about the early bitcoin utopians and programmers thinking bitcoin could take power away from the banks. The idea of this open ledger attracted people early on. So, for me the question was, ‘What is the response from national government, and what is the response from banks, going to be if this is something in opposition to what they do? How are they going to respond? Is bitcoin ever going to get big enough for them to respond.’
Sure enough that was happening. The regulation of bitcoin businesses in New York state with the BitLicense was a moment where I thought, ‘This could be the heart of the story.’ I wondered, ‘Was it good to regulate bitcoin early on or do you let it grow?’ That was something we were constantly aware of, at least in New York state.
Bitcoin is also interesting because it’s not physical, and film is a visual medium. That was certainly a challenge. We didn’t want to just put up graphics of casascius coins endlessly, especially with the talented Molly Schwartz doing lead animation on the film.
Images Courtesy of Shutterstock, Cannucciari.com, Banking on Bitcoin
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