Following its high-profile debut at the Tribeca Film Festival, the bitcoin documentary The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin will see a worldwide release via ‘on demand’ services today.
Localised in 21 languages, audiences will be able to watch the feature-length production through 250 content platforms including iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and Comcast. Dish Network, which recently became the second biggest merchant to accept the digital currency, will also show the movie on demand.
Gravitas Ventures, an independent distributor that specialises in video on demand (VOD) services, is the force behind the launch. According to the company, it has released more than 2,000 titles since it began in 2006.
Brothers Nicholas Mross, the film’s director and producer, and Daniel Mross, its subject, said the partnership with Gravitas came about after their April screening at Tribeca:
“The film had a great reception, and following the festival, they [Gravitas] made us an offer. They have taken a very hands-on approach with the film and did a wonderful job with bringing it to the global market.”
The film itself has been in the pipeline for a number of years. The pair began production in early 2011, back when the currency’s dollar value was lingering in the single digits.
As bitcoin skyrocketed, the brothers travelled all over the world – Tokyo, New York, Utah, Panama – to capture the beginnings of what they describe as “largest social-economic experiment ever conducted”.
The resulting documentary functions as a notably bullish primer on the basics, with 35-year-old programmer and early mining enthusiast Daniel playing the role of both teacher and tour guide.
Knowing when to stop
Featuring cameos from Gavin Andresen, Roger Ver, Mark Karpeles, Jared Kenna, Charlie Shrem and Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin also offers insight into the first movers and shakers in the ecosystem.
Since filming, some of these early adopters have faired better than others, however. Karpeles and Shrem are both caught up in lengthy legal disputes, while startups like BitInstant, Mt Gox and TradeHill are no longer in business.
For this reason – also as bitcoin's value has fallen of late – The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin already feels nostalgic, with eerily prescient moments, too.
The pair cite delays in finding "solid distribution" as the reason for these discrepancies between past and present:
"We had to extend production for the greater good of the film, it seemed to make some think we were taking too long to get it out. We didn't just want to release it if it wasn't ready."
Additionally, during filming the pair said it was hard to know when to find a cut off point. "It was hard to know when to stop. Ultimately it was a combination of timing, hard work, and a little bit of luck that got us to the end,” they added.
Initially, the brothers saw the price boom that followed the 2013 US Senate hearings as a significant milestone that could work as an ending. However, the arrest of Charlie Shrem, the fall of Mt Gox and the Dorian Nakamoto saga were all “too juicy” to leave out of the film's final moments, they said.
Though time has passed and the ecosystem has changed dramatically even since then, the brothers argue that film has a certain historical value that will keep it relevant for years to come.
There are others who are hoping to cash in on bitcoin's historical impact, too. This includes Life on Bitcoin, an experiment from newlyweds Austin and Beccy Craig who spend their first 100 days as husband and wife attempting to spend nothing but the digital currency.
Other upcoming titles are Bitcoin: The End of Money As We Know It, I am Satoshi, Bitcoins in Argentina, Crypto for the Masses and The Bitcoin Doco, a three-part mini-series by Australian duo Chris Mylrae and Dale Dickens.
Following an initial showing at cinemas in New York and LA on 3rd October, the brothers say the general reaction to their film has been "fantastic" so far. They have had an influx of pre-orders via their website (where, appropriately, you can pay in bitcoin) and messages from people wishing to host screenings of the film.
However, the duo were quick to contradict any fans expecting a sequel, concluding: “We truly believe it was a special time for bitcoin when we were filming, and it is unlikely that we would capture lighting in a bottle twice.”
Image via The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin