This is the story of an independent #filmmaker and his quest to get a #blockchain #documentary to millions of people globally. The first month took me from a dark editing room to a billionaire dinner in #Davos. The next six short paragraphs will take you along for the first chapter of this ride.

Poster 520x760_golden flares

The story behind CRYPTOPIA: #Bitcoin, Blockchains and the Future of the Internet: Five years after my first documentary, I revisit the big brains and big egos behind Bitcoin and explain the evolution of the #blockchain industry and the utopian ideas fueling it. Can this #technology, designed to operate independent of trust and within a decentralized network, really provide a robust alternative to traditional banking and maybe even the #Internet as we know it? Check out the trailer (2:30 minutes): https://youtu.be/M6GgU08rxyg 

Flashback: During our #Kickstarter campaign we generated around a million social media impressions. Prominent figures like Fred Wilson, Matthew Roszak or Florian Huber as well as 200 others supported our #crowdfunding effort which helped us to get a grant from Screen Australia and the German public #broadcaster Norddeutscher Rundfunk. Since then Michael Watchulonis and I have filmed on 4 continents and interviewed some of the biggest and most controversial names of the industry including Laura Shin, Andreas M. Antonopoulos, Vitalik Buterin, Roger Ver, Charlie Lee, Samson Mow, Vinny Lingham, Preethi Kasireddy and Wences Casares.


But here’s the thing. Filmmakers (like any other content creators) need to be entrepreneurs in the digital world (hat tip to Ryan Holiday, Gary Vaynerchuk, Tim Ferriss, Orly Ravid, Peter Hamilton). Making content is only one half of the job. In a world of constant distraction and infinite content choices, marketing your content is the real challenge – one that has not been well understood by #documentary makers yet.

Iterating the Edit: First, we needed to find product-market-fit. We did this with test screenings throughout Australia and NZ supported by great partners like RMIT Online, Brave New Coin, Independent Reserve, Spark Festival, Nuggets News, Blackbird Ventures and, even more importantly, tiredless community organizers such as Abheeti Pass, Adriana Belotti, Chantelle de la Rey, Pantelis Roussakis, and Karen Cohen. Detailed feedback from the audience has helped us to finetune the film, delete the confusing sequences, improve the entertaining parts and ensure we got everything right.

Finally, we were ready to premiere the ‘final cut’ in Melbourne my home base. With more sponsors including Decred, Blockchain Australia, CoinJar we were able to hire ACMI’s beautiful Treasury Theatre. As you can see from this short clip, it’s not only the #crypto nerds and the blockchain startups that enjoyed the film, there were many #professionals from larger organisations in the audience. Yes, the #accountants, #consultants, and #bankers also enjoyed the night 🙂 https://youtu.be/xQur8dtdX58

With this tailwind, we were ready to go global. I packed my bags for a 6-months world tour. First stop: Davos, Switzerland. One of our producers Dr Oliver Krause introduced me to the circles and we were able to show off our trailer and discuss potential screening events all over the world. Was it worth it to spend 6 days and 6000 EUR on #Davos? It’s too early to tell but we’ve got some nice press coverage.


hank you for following my big adventure. and for supporting independent filmmakers!


= = = = =

In the next part, I’ll tell you how the big shots at the #EUCommission (!) and the folks at a Swiss bank liked the film. And then there’s a big premiere with the tech scene in #Berlin and the how the virus might jeopardize my plans …. Stay tuned and follow us on #CryptopiaFilm. You’ll get a free copy of my first documentary when you sign up with your email here: https://cryptopiafilm.com/updates/


A few years ago I shared the crowdfunding campaign we ran for our first Bitcoin documentary. Hopefully, y’all bought some coins back then. Anyway, this time we are aiming much higher and have big partners (broadcasters, film commission) on board already. This Kickstarter is to grow a fanbase and to help us close a few funding gaps. Please check it out and share in your circles. Getting links and traffic early is super important. Thanks so much.


You can find us on Facebook and we use the hashtag #CryptopiaFilm on Twitter 

I just read this interesting article/interview with James Cameron, who is arguably the most important force in the 3D industry. His assessment of 3D in theatres and at home is refreshing. I have pasted the most important parts below. Unfortunately, there is no mention of VR, where 3D, of course, is currently achieving its ultimate potential.


After Avatar cracked open the potential for 3D in cinema, the Canadian filmmaker had further success with the format when the 2012 conversion of Titanic earned $US343 million around the world.

Six years ago, Cameron predicted 3D would be standard in cinemas by 2016. And while the widespread perception is that audiences have gone off the format – deterred by an often disappointing experience and more expensive ticket price – he challenges that view.

“At that time we probably had 1500 screens 3D globally and we’re now up to 45,000 screens,” he says. “Pretty much every major film that’s made is offered in both 3D and 2D. I’d call that pretty standard.

“Now that doesn’t mean that everybody chooses it. We’re running at, depending on the title, anywhere from 40 to 60 per cent of ticket-buyers choosing the stereo option.

“But the total number of people viewing movies in 3D is about a 10 x multiple of what it was when I released Avatar. And probably a 4 or 5 x multiple of where we were [in 2012] so I consider that a pretty resounding success story.

But surely no-one is buzzing about 3D the way they did when Avataropened.

“They shouldn’t be,” Cameron says. “In 1961, the expensive movies were in colour and the cheap ones were in black and white. They put a big sign on the poster or the marquee that said ‘In Colour” and people would go to a movie because it was in colour.

“Cut to five or 10 years later, people weren’t buzzing about colour. It was just a fact of life.

“Honestly, I can point to any number of interviews where I predicted in our best case scenario, we would measure success when it was no longer remarkable. And that’s exactly where we are now.”

But Cameron accepts 3D television has failed and the movie industry has let itself down by hastily converting new movies rather than shooting them in the format.

“The conversion of classic titles where you have the time and energy to do it properly is not a problem,” he says. “The problem is when you’re trying to jam it in in post-production on a new Avengers film or whatever …

“I also think the industry has done itself a disservice by not stepping up on the projection technology to get the light levels up. That’s now on the horizon … there’ll be a big incremental evolution over the next few years where the 3D experience gets much more vibrant and dynamic.”

vcg-logo-bronze-variationFrench, German and Australian firms form new global VR group poised for expansion, win two more Lumière™ Awards

PARIS, BERLIN, MELBOURNE – Jan 12, 2016/Global Newswire – Virtual Content Group (VCG), a conglomerate of international Virtual Reality (VR) companies, formed recently from the merger of France’s Cow Prod, Germany’s INVR.SPACE and Australia’s 3D Content Hub, announced today its launch and winning of two Lumière awards from The VR Society. Utilizing the forming companies’ over 15 years’ experience in developing leading-edge content, VCG will offer production, post-production and licensing services.

VCG has operations spanning thirteen countries and a rights library of nearly eighty VR titles, positioning it to rival the scale of leading American VR companies on the international stage. To date, the company has produced and co-produced more than 150 VR projects. The three respective entities  have a long track record and clients in over 40 countries, including BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Disney, Huawei, Unicef, Sky, Netflix, NBC Universal, Samsung, LG Electronics, Sony and Deutsche Telekom.

The merger allows VCG to scale faster and serve larger clients with a regional focus on Europe and Asia-Pacific. “VCG is as an international leader in VR,” said Torsten Hoffmann, VCG co-founder and CEO, who has licensed 3D content since 2011. “Building our own IP is core to our business model.” The business, already profitable, will seek Round-A investment in early 2017 and intends to add more partners later this year.

Just three weeks ago, the Lumière award for Best European VR Campaign was awarded for VCG’s BMWi and Samsung 360° Experience. “The project included both 3D 360 live-action camera capture and augmented reality (AR),” said Berlin-based Sönke Kirchhof, VCG co-founder and head of production. VCG’s French team worked on Les Poissons Volants’ 3D 360 CGI project, Temptation of St.Anthony, which picked up the second Lumière award. This short film immerses the viewer into a famous medieval painting by H. Bosch.

In addition to distributing premium VR titles including Titans of Space and Tomorrow VR, VCG is currently developing a wide breadth of high-level projects, including museum installations, co-productions in Australia, South Africa, Hong Kong and Germany and a room-scale VR experience. “We partner with governments, companies and creatives all over the world and are not limited to one camera system or distribution platform,” added Gallien Chanalet-Quercy, VCG co-founder and head of content.

The three founders are available for interviews via Info@VirtualContentGroup.com.


About Virtual Content Group (expanded)

Virtual Content Group (VCG) is a leading global VR content company offering end-to-end production, post-production and distribution services. With a background in stereoscopy and 3D, operations spanning thirteen countries and over 50 clients worldwide, VCG is an international powerhouse with a focus on high-end branded content and award-winning factual content. The company has delivered more than one hundred 360-degree videos and virtual reality projects and owns distribution rights to a growing library of over eighty 3rd-party productions. VCG was founded in 2016 as three established companies from Australia, Germany and France completed a merger:

Cow Prod, based in Paris, has been at the cutting-edge of the production and post-production industry in France since 2000. A 3D content creator since 2004, CEO Gallien Chanalet-Quercy is a member of the board of Advanced Imaging Society Europe as well as a founding member of the 3D Guild. Cow Prod’s VR spinoff was founded based on several client requests for 360 degree production and post-production services and is now integrated into VCG.

INVR.SPACE from Berlin became one of the most experienced German VR production companies by developing interactive VR campaigns for very large corporate clients. CEO Sönke Kirchhof first built 360 degree camera rigs in 2008 and is a board member of Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute’s prestigious German technology cluster “3IT”.

With clients in 40 countries, Australia’s 3D Content Hub is a niche content distributor that has helped filmmakers, independent studios and content producers generate revenues from 3D, UHD, and HDR content. Founder Torsten Hoffmann is considered an international expert in monetizing content in leading-edge formats, now including 360 video content.

The three companies have merged their businesses and re-branded as Virtual Content Group to scale faster and serve larger clients and investors. The firm has a growing base of clients in Europe, Asia and the Middle East and is currently expanding into other territories. Learn more at www.VirtualContentGroup.com and on Twitter @VirtualContentG.


The founders of Virtual Content Group talk about the VR industry and why they merged  their three award-winning businesses.

SK: Soenke Kirchhof. Co-Founder. Berlin. http://invr.space/
TH: Torsten Hoffmann. Co-Founder/CEO. Melbourne. http://3dcontenthub.com/
GCQ: Gallien Chanalet-Quercy. Co-Founder. Paris. http://www.cow-prod.fr/en/ 


  1. What is your background and how did you catch the “VR bug”?

GCQ: I come, like the three of us, from a strong 3D background and have always been interested in new ways to tell stories. When the first 360 photography gear was released, we immediately tried to use it for storytelling and built our first rigs.

SK: With my background as a producer/CEO, I always focused on new ways of storytelling and formats. For example, I started one of the first internet TV Stations in Germany back in 2005 – just to be able to distribute art projects that I was interested in. In 2006, I founded Real Life Film International, focusing on stereoscopic 3D, to tell stories in more immersive ways than in flat 2D. Shortly after that in early 2008, I was part in a research consortium on immersive storytelling; we also shot the first 180° degree project with the first prototype of Fraunhofer HHI´s Omnicam. Over time, there were more projects in 360° for Dome Projections – and since 2014, we have produced and collaborated on over two hundred projects in 360°.

TH: Licensing content is a competitive and crowded business. I stumbled into stereoscopic 3D ‘by accident’ and 3D Content Hub became one of the leading distributors in this niche – which quickly disappeared. What 3D promised back then, VR actually delivers now. This became clear to me as soon as I saw the first few 360 clips on GearVR. VR will take a few more technology iterations to really take off – yet the first few headsets and experiences are already quite impressive.


  1. What is your proudest professional accomplishment to date?

SK: My favorite moment was when Disney decided that they will not shoot in Los Angeles or with the largest German studio, but with us a relatively small and unknown company. We had been involved in the development of the camera system (which was awarded by the International 3D Society shortly afterwards) and Disney was convinced that we understood the creative aspects of working with it as well as the technical details.

GCQ: a) the premiere of my first feature film as executive producer in London, b) accepting the Lumiere Award in LA alongside Jean-Pierre Jeunet for Best 3D Commercial of the Year for the World of Warcraft commercial, and c) the recent Lumiere award for Temptation of St. Anthony VR for Arte Creative.

TH: a) figured out many ways to monetise 3D content and paid out about $3 million in license revenues to independent filmmakers, small production firms and freelancers b) built a network of hundreds of content creators and clients all over the world and finally c) wrote, crowdfunded, directed and produced my first documentary about the controversial technology Bitcoin and won 4 international awards for it. 

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Fellow Filmmakers. I haven’t written much on this blog for a while. This case study is about what I have been up to for the past 18 months and my learnings about crowdfunding documentaries and self-distribution in the process. Here is all the data in great detail. This article also explains how my film ended up being the most pirated documentary on the Internet.

The Idea:
– Experience of working with filmmakers and factual content for about 5 years.
– Indirectly or directly involved with hundreds of documentaries.
– I am passionate about Technology and have a strong interest in Finance (I wrote a paper about alternative currencies during my MBA program).
– When Bitcoin came along it seemed like a good topic for a documentary. It’s too complex to explain in an article or a 3 minute conversation.
– Controversial topic. Some hailing it as “the biggest thing since the Internet” while others claim that it’s “a Ponzi scheme”.
– Very passionate community. Clearly defined target audience: 90% Male. Age 20-35. Tech savvy.
– Additional to myself, the team included Michael Watchulonis (an award-winning filmmaker and director who helped me with all technical aspects as well as with the writing and all of the editing) and an industry expert who is very well connected in the Bitcoin and FinTech space.
– Chose a provocative title which raises questions/curiosity: “Bitcoin: The End Of Money As We Know It”

Crowdfunding Campaign:
– Produced a number of interviews and a “punchy” trailer prior to the campaign
– Chose Kickstarter. Click here to see the campaign.
– Campaigning is a full-time job for 6-8 weeks.
– Understood that crowdfunding is less about the actual money but about gathering a community and a base of loyal fans.
– Asked for a relatively small amount of $10,000. Never intended to cover all production costs. 
– Reached the goal early and 174% in total. That’s about $15,500 after fees and commission.

Screenshot 2015-08-20 at 17.03.09


– Most popular rewards were the lower tiers

Screenshot 2015-08-20 at 17.04.11




– Mid-tier rewards included a clever giveaways like authentic 10 Trillion Dollar banknotes from Zimbabwe
– The rest of the budget (approx. 70%) was self-funded
– Campaigning was largely done via social media and within the existing Bitcoin community
– Campaign success also functioned as ‘proof of concept’.

Documentary Production:
– Produced the film in standard High Definition. Recorded interviews in 6 cities on 3 continents.
– Licensed hundreds of clips for B-Roll (tracking down, licensing, obtaining, monitoring it would turn out to be a major time and cost factor). Used footage services and existing network of friends in the industry. Many Bitcoin users and companies provided useful footage for free.
– To save costs, we used royalty free music and kept custom animations limited
– Delivered film behind schedule and above initial budget (just like every first time filmmaker)
– Post-production milestones were submission dates for film festivals

Pre-Release Activities
– Crowdsourced the design of our poster/key art via 99Designs. 125 designs were submitted. See all variations here. Polled our fanbase for their favorite design and decided on this one:

Bitcoin FINAL 1400x1600









– Built a strong following on Twitter

Screenshot 2015-08-20 at 17.42.50






– Released a new trailer on YouTube. About 20,000 views pre-release (51,000 views as of today)
Screenshot 2015-08-20 at 16.48.51




– Mistake: not clearly communicating a definite launch date
– Built a strong presence on Reddit. 1,500 Upvotes and 500 comments
– Won three awards at festivals in Amsterdam and Las Vegas
– Handling film festivals via services such as withoutabox or filmfreeway is efficient but investment in time and money is high. We stopped after a few months.

Screenshot 2015-08-03 at 15.29.24








Self Distribution Results (First Month): 
– Launchdate July 15th. 80% of transaction in the first 5 days.
Screenshot 2015-08-20 at 17.57.44

– Activity on social media way up
Screenshot 2015-08-03 at 15.18.49Screenshot 2015-08-03 at 15.02.27










Facebook Page starts to get traction (1,500 fans as of today)

Screenshot 2015-08-20 at 16.54.17








– Best performing Transactional VOD platform is Vimeo where the social media statistics are very strong compared to almost any other film on their service

Screenshot 2015-08-20 at 16.47.43





– Innovative download package as BitTorrent Bundle generated a lot of traffic but not many transactions
– Great results on small platform that offers pay-with-Bitcoin option
– Reddit was a strong traffic driver
– Interviews and appearances on many many many radio shows and podcasts. Activated 20 promotion codes which (only) yielded 130 transactions (usually 20% off).
– Getting rated and reviewed on imdb is very difficult. Should have encouraged audience earlier. Score started around 9.0 and then made a sudden drop to 7.1 where it is now ‘locked’.













– Upon closer inspection, it is a few bad ratings that pull the weighted average down. The “mean” is still 8.0 and the “Median” 9.
Screenshot 2015-08-20 at 16.51.35








– This is the rating after a few months.








I now understand why almost any film ends up in the 6-7 point range.

– Made the mistake of not launching on iTunes and Amazon at the same time (It takes much longer to onboard on these platforms). Launch date on iTunes (USA) in early August and Amazon Instant Video in mid August. Getting reviews in order to “kickstart” the algorithms there is difficult.

– Local screenings all over the world at community events (Sydney, Santiago de Chile), meetup groups, conferences (London, Amsterdam), and even in traditional movie theatres (Scandinavia, Israel). The free Sydney screening generated 120$ in donations. We are looking for people who want to organize more screenings now.
– Interestingly, more than 20 subtitled versions (Russian, Hindi, Mandarin, Spanish) have appeared on the Internet. Unauthorized but highly appreciated.


– This is a film about a peer-to-peer technology, so the fact that it would get pirated so much is not surprising
– Estimate: About 200,000 illegal (torrent) downloads, making it one of the most popular documentary among pirates in 2015. These are two google alerts from January (seven months after initial release).
illegal downloadsillegal downloads2









– We have seen about 120,000 illegal video streams, mostly on YouTube. Take-down process takes several days. Some of the uploaders are ‘hiding’ the film under a different name which makes it very difficult to detect.
– It is impossible to estimate whether any of these illegal viewers (streamed or downloaded) would have paid for the film. There is some evidence from Hollywood blockbusters that there is little overlap and cannibalisation i.e. pirates do not hurt the legal distribution and might actually help it.
– We estimate that there are also numerous unauthorized public screenings of the film (see USAMexico and Indonesia below). I encourage free screenings as it increases the overall popularity of the film and it translates into more imdb ratings, reviews and maybe some legal downloads. However, most of these venues never contacted us in the first place.

Screenshot 2015-08-07 at 11.40.58
















Distribution results after 6 months

– Vimeo remains the best platform for us, but after the first weeks the revenue is only at a minimum base level. iTunes was only strong for the first two weeks. Amazon Instant Video is constant/slightly growing.
– On vimeo 15,000 trailer plays resulted in 1,000 transactions. 40% came from the USA. 8% from the UK, and 7% each from Germany and Australia
– On iTunes (USA) 47% of all transactions are rentals, 53% are purchases. 67% are HD transactions which are 1-2$ more expensive than SD
– Weekends are strongest on both vimeo and iTunes. Price promotions or coupon codes have little impact. Bitcoin press coverage in mainstream media (scandals, big investments, price swings) translate into more views.
– Ratio of about 300’000 pirated views to 2’000 paid transactions means that I monetize less than 1% of all views
– Small extra income with screening fees or bulk DVD orders
– 30 donations to our Bitcoin wallet address totalling about 250$
– Some TV channels and film festivals have contacted us; I assume some of them due to the ‘popularity’ of the pirated versions
– We are now starting to place the film for in-flight entertainment (business/finance documentaries perform well in this market) and are actively seeking international sales agents for television.


– Using cheap sources of B-roll and other footage as well as royalty-free music is crucial unless you have tons of other people’s money to spend
– We need to deliver from idea to finished film much faster and at lower cost
– Narration based docs are less popular with the main buyers (broadcasters); we will consider stronger characters or ‘hosted’ stories in the future
– Self-distribution (B2C) is very difficult and time consuming even if your film is popular and ‘goes viral’; a coordinated big global launch is important (we missed an opportunity)
– We don’t have an indication whether (costly) other language versions would have helped with distribution
– You cannot fight piracy, don’t even try it. Instead, try to use it to your advantage
– Traditional B2B (licensing) distribution is still where most of the revenues are
– We are not convinced that the awards at smaller festivals helped us with distribution. However, we think it’s advisable to submit to festivals that match your core audience in order to gain “street cred” (e.g. we won an award at a Libertarian festival)
– For our next production we would chose a topic that has an equally enthusiastic following and community behind it; it is a good idea to cover topics that are about to become trends
– We will not self-fund another production again and instead rely on traditional funding sources (pre-sales, broadcasters, incentive programs) and substitute this with a crowdfunding campaign

Lovetheframe‘s Manuel Benito de Valle talks about his latest 4k film Welcome to the Cave of Wonders and his experience with HDR. Check out his short video, too.

Q1: Please tell us a bit more about yourself and your company. How did you get started with filmmaking?

As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to make films. I guess I couldn´t stop myself from trying to make my own. So I first started to storyboard them and then, when I was like eight years old, I laid my hands on my Mom´s friend´s video camera and shot my own star-wars film (with actual Star-Wars action figures) From that on, I´ve never really stopped making lousy films. Only they eventually got better! My company Lovetheframe is just another step on this very same road. I´m especially proud of a heartbreaking documentary I shot in Cuba called Knockoutkuba. 

Q2: What was the response to your 4k film Cave of Wonders? Why did you decide to make a longer version now?

4k Film in HDR

Poster Into the Cave of Wonders

The shortfilm was a great fun in terms of experimentation. Our aim was making a short doc so visually powerful that words would get in the way. Like the “no comment” section we used to watch on the News. You did not wholly understand them but you felt them even more because of that. Apparently we succeeded because it won many international awards and got great reviews and recognition. But I say apparently because by succeeding, we paradoxically built an audience that wanted to know and learn more about the Cave of Wonders. And so we had to face a new challenge: Make it longer and narrated without losing any visual power. I would like to believe that we did it again. Time will tell.




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3D Gif of the Week


I came across this great article on Medium and the authors have kindly allowed me to re-post parts of it here.

Lessons from a nonprofit that is building a successful media program from scratch

Over the past several years, documentary films have made an explosive comeback. There are lots of reasons for this, but two of the big ones worth noting are:

  1. The continued emergence of the millennial generation and our keen interest in contributing to something bigger than ourselves.
  2. Substantially lowered costs via technological innovations in consumer-level videography equipment.

Just because more nonprofits and individuals are pursuing documentary filmmaking does not mean it is effortless though. Documentary filmmaking for the modern nonprofit is just one part of having a solid media program, while owning your own small studio as an individual still isn’t super cheap.

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