Cryptopia and the future of the internet – An interview with documentary filmmaker Torsten Hoffmann
If you’ve been asking yourself recently what documentaries to watch – there is a new kid on the block. Recently, I had the opportunity to work as a contributing director of photography on a documentary that has not only qualified for the Academy Awards, but it also shed light on a previously-unknown realm for me: the world of blockchain and cryptocurrency.
Naturally, I knew very little about the topic, but the opportunity to work on this documentary proved to be a rewarding experience.
The latest documentary, Cryptopia, by award-winning producer and director Torsten Hoffmann, is a must-see for everyone who's been amazed, or confused, by what seemed to be the word of the year in 2019 – Blockchain.
Personally, I was lucky enough to contribute to this documentary for the London portion of the production.
I met Torsten and his team in the middle of their filming process and I am excited to learn that the film has qualified for the Academy Awards upon its release.
- Cryptopia features easy-to-understand graphics, and breaks down the complexity and the processes behind the blockchain and puts this new technology into a wider context of what all this could means for the future of money.
Hoffman, an MBA by training, is naturally passionate about the topic, a position that manifests itself in a highly-engaging documentary. The audience is introduced to the many controversies that surround cryptocurrency and moreover, we are presented with facts that enable us to stay informed on the topic. If you're looking for a documentary that will keep you entertained, while learning something new, check out Cryptopia.
'Ambitious and Thought-Provoking' 'Captures the Zeitgeist of this Movement'
I interviewed Torsten for my blog, and he was kind enough to answer some questions about the filmmaking process, which I've shared below.
JS: Congratulations on the successful completion and debut of CryptopiaFilm. Tell us about the making of the film. What were the challenges? What goals did you set yourself?
TH: Coordinating the production over four continents, seven countries, different production crews and post production teams was a big challenge. It took us over two years to make this film. The other challenge was to keep up with the developments that happened during the time e.g. new product launches, new conflicts, price movements etc.
JS: You travelled all over the world for Cryptopia, what did your funding process look like and how difficult was that?
TH: Luckily, we had already made another Bitcoin documentary in 2014/15 which was quite successful. This enabled me to approach Screen Australia, where we're based, and a German broadcaster – where I was born. Some of the funds also came from fans on Kickstarter.
JS: Is there anything that turned out to be majorly different than what you had planned in the beginning? And if so, what?
TH: I think most documentary filmmakers change course along the way or add new content. I have the tendency to keep adding new content, while co-director Michael Watchulonis, a veteran in the business, was good to keep focus on the main threads and work towards our deadlines.
JS: How big was your team and how long did it take you to make this film?
TH: A production like this is a big team effort. You can see the entire list in the end credits in the film and I have also pasted it to the bottom of the main page www.CryptopiaFilm.com .
JS: This is your second film about crypto currency. What is your personal involvement with the topic?
TH: I have been fascinated about alternative currency since I wrote a paper about it during my MBA in 2010. I found out about Bitcoin in 2013.
JS: The film has just qualified for the Academy Awards, what are the next steps and what can you tell us about distribution of documentary films in general?
TH: Yes, this is via DocEdge, a festival in New Zealand. We're now selling the film pay-per-view on our site and will eventually add it to the big platforms like Amazon or iTunes. We like these big tech companies but we don't like that they keep such a large share of the money. If you can, try to support independent productions by going to the source.
JS: Has Covid-19 had an impact on releasing the film?
TH: I was in the middle of the global cinema tour. But after sold-out cinemas in 5 countries with the local blockchain and tech communities we were 'locked down'. This forced us to release #CryptopiaFilm online.
JS: Are you already working on your next project?
TH: Not yet. I am working on a few ideas at the moment but nothing concrete. First priority is to recoup some of the production budget.