Bitcoin Wallet Maker Finances 3D-Printed Gun Documentary

Privacy stalwart Samourai Wallet is an executive producer of "Death Athletic," a forthcoming film about ghost-gun firebrand Cody Wilson.

AccessTimeIconOct 13, 2023 at 12:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Oct 13, 2023 at 1:03 p.m. UTC
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The company behind a bitcoin wallet known for its privacy features is stepping out as a benefactor of the arts.

Samourai Wallet is credited as an executive producer of "Death Athletic: A Dissident Architecture," a documentary about Cody Wilson, the firebrand advocate for homemade firearms. The film, directed by Jessica Solce, will premiere at a private showing in New York on Saturday and in Austin, Texas, the following weekend, with a digital release scheduled for Oct. 21.

"Samourai joined the production in 2021 with funds to help me finish the film. I was self-producing [until] that point," Solce told CoinDesk. "They provided financial backing for post-production of the film," along with another executive producer, Thomas Donnelly. She would not disclose the film's budget but said it was a six-figure number.

Case full of guns, in a scene from "Death Athletic." (Jessica Solce)
A scene from "Death Athletic." (Jessica Solce)

"Death Athletic" follows Wilson, the founder of Defense Distributed in Austin, Texas, over the course of seven years. It chronicles his legal battles with the U.S. government and 20 state attorneys general for the right to publish files that show how to build weapons using a 3D printer or computer numerical control (CNC) mill. (These firearms are often called ghost guns because they can be made without a serial number or registration.)

The film also covers Wilson’s arrest for sexual assault in 2018, his subsequent plea to a lesser charge and probation sentence, and his resignation and eventual return to Defense Distributed, led during his absence by Paloma Heindorff.

"We believe that the culture of a movement is one of the most important aspects to the longevity of that movement and how loyal it remains to the original vision," Samourai said in a statement to CoinDesk. "As such we have made several bitcoin contributions to artists and creatives in the space over the years."

Financing "Death Athletic," however, "was our biggest show of support to date."

The library and Goliad flag in Defense Distributed's Austin, Texas, office, in a scene from "Death Athletic." (Jessica Solce)
Defense Distributed's Austin, Texas, office, in a scene from "Death Athletic." (Jessica Solce)

Many early bitcoin adopters and hardcore users see Wilson as a kindred spirit, and not only because he also worked on Dark Wallet, an early predecessor to privacy-enhancing software projects like Samourai. He has long declared that sharing the open-source blueprints for weapons is an act of speech, protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, similar to arguments cryptocurrency advocates often use against certain forms of regulation.

"We see serious parallels in the homemade gun space and in the fully sovereign private bitcoin space," Samourai's statement said. "Both are strongly stigmatized in the media, both require strong men to fight against all odds. There are lessons both communities can learn from another."

In addition to mainstream platforms (iTunes, Amazon and Google), "Death Athletic" will be available through an online store that accepts bitcoin and runs on the BTCPay Server merchant software, Solce said.


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