The Making of the Doge Documentary

One of the funnest stories in crypto history – Dogecoin – is getting a documentary. Jeff Wilser checks in with Tridog, one of the producers.

AccessTimeIconMay 22, 2023 at 9:12 p.m. UTC
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I’m drawn to crypto because I’m drawn to stories. The space is packed with characters who are doing weird and surprising things -- sometimes brilliant, sometimes cringe, sometimes sketchy, sometimes inspiring.

And then there’s the world of Doge. This is a different neighborhood of Web3: The goofy corner. A world of jokes and memes and random acts of silliness. It’s also a world of sneaky generosity. As I covered in my 2021 profile of Dogecoin, the early Shibas gave to charity and they gave to each other -- flinging Dogecoin to strangers, sending pizzas to the homeless, and even funding the Jamaican Winter Olympics bobsled team.

Doge is one of my favorite stories in crypto, so perhaps it’s no surprise that there’s now a “Doge Documentary” in the works, courtesy of a DAO called “Own the Doge.”

Details on the doc are still fuzzy. Release date? Distribution? Still TBD. But the cameras are rolling and the creators are on a mission to share the full Doge story as widely as possible. “We think that the Doge is the Mona Lisa of the internet,” says “Tridog,” a member of the Own the Doge DAO and the film’s de facto producer. He now sees it as time to give the Mona Lisa her due.

Tridog spoke to me from Japan. It was early morning his time, evening my time, and he was about to go on a pilgrimage to meet “Kabosu,” the actual 17-year-old Shiba Inu whose photo inspired the original Doge meme, years before crypto even existed.

He speaks of Kabosu with reverence. And he senses something even philosophical at play. “Maybe there’s something deeper with dogs and cats and our love for pets,” says Tridog, “and that could come out as this deeper meaning within the film.”

Just hours before meeting the Doge herself, Tridog opens up about how a Web3 documentary could be different than a traditional movie, his plans to involve Elon Musk (the self-proclaimed “CEO of Dogecoin”), and how he hopes the film can “inspire people to reconsider the point of our lives on earth, and how powerful it could be if we just think about random acts of kindness.”

(Bonus? They’re sending the Doge to space.)

Interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

What appeals to you about the Doge story?

Tridog: Like a lot of people I thought, “Okay, Doge is funny. It's more of the light-hearted side of crypto." It’s a really fun community. It spans every age of the internet. And lots of interesting things have happened, going back to funding the literal "Cool Runnings" Jamaican bobsled team.

But then a really powerful moment, for me, was coming here [to Japan] six months ago, and then doing this Doge pilgrimage to visit Kabosu. This might be a once in a lifetime opportunity. The Doge is over 17 years old.  And I met Atsuko Sato, who’s really a star in this, and her story hasn’t ever really been told.

What can you tell us about her?

Atsuko Sato is the woman who saved Doge. Kabosu, aka, Doge, was at a kill shelter. And so if no one adopted her, she was going to be put down. Atsuko adopted her, and she’s always been an animal lover. She's always been this person who gives and supports animal shelters.

Now she's a 60-something-year-old kindergarten teacher. She still loves to teach. And she's given so much, not just in her time, but also from the proceeds from the NFT sale. She gave to children. And that's always been kind of a piece of our [Doge’s] story, is that we gave the largest crypto gift -- one million dollars to Save the Children. We've continued to work with Save the Children as well as other dog charities since.

I’m glad you mentioned that. It seems like the work of the Doge community has kind of gotten overshadowed by all the price frenzy of Dogecoin. Can you summarize what you’ve been up to?

The first project was “Own the Doge.” [PleasrDAO purchased the NFT of the original Doge photo, sold by Atsuko Sato, for 1,696.9 ETH, worth $4.8 million at the time.] And then Pleasr took the NFT and fractionalized it into DOG Token. Now it lives at Own the Doge, which is the DAO spun out of Pleasr.

So now the NFT is owned by this collective of people who hold the DOG token. Or you can hold it in an NFT form called Doge Pixels. That all laid the foundation for the blockchain angle of this. The Doge DAO, or Own the Doge, is our treasury.

How many people are in that community? What’s the size of your treasury?

We have about 15,000 cross-chain holders of DOG. And I think we have about a $3 million treasury at the moment.

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Crypto is a very strong part of the story of Doge, but it wasn't the beginning and may not be the end
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So the DOG token holders, then, they suggest and brainstorm projects for the DAO? And they’ve green-lit a few projects, such as the documentary and the pilgrimage?

Yeah, exactly. We think that the Doge is the Mona Lisa of the internet. So how do we continue to make that story true, and continue to make it so that the most entertaining outcome is the most likely outcome?

What’s another example of a Doge project from the DAO?

There’s “Bronze the Doge,” which is the statue initiative. [They’re designing and creating a bronze statue of Kabosu, to be placed in her hometown of Sakura, Japan.] We’re trying to get a statue up by the end of the year, ideally by Kabosu's birthday on November 2nd. I went and visited with the mayor, and the mayor is super hyped.

For the mayor, as someone running the city, he sees this as a path for more people making pilgrimages to Sakura, of people coming to show their respect to this dog that has tens of millions of fans around the world.

As for the Doge documentary, is that fully-funded by the DAO, or do you have more traditional movie financing elements?

Yeah, I think we wanna do a hybrid model for that. On the one hand, it's so cool what we can empower through blockchain, and through the [shared] ownership of the Doge image. Maybe everyone who wants to opt-in as DOG holders, or Doge Pixel holders, gets into the credits of the film. Things like that, right? Or maybe there’s a meme competition where people submit animation to the film.

But we also want to reach a mainstream audience. We want the world to understand the story, which is spreading this magic, spreading the joyfulness. I think we could really do something incredibly impactful, not just for Doge but to inspire people to reconsider the point of our lives on earth, and how powerful it could be if we just think about random acts of kindness.

I know that DAOs aren’t big on titles, but what’s your role on the doc, exactly? Producer?

Yeah I guess, traditionally, you’d call me a producer. But I'm kind of doing it on behalf of the project. We're a culture DAO/social club. We try to spread the culture in novel and interesting ways, and bring Doge where Doge hasn't been before. That's kind of my role.

We recently brought on Jon Lynn, who has done documentary work and work for Pleasr House. He created the most comprehensive history of Doge on the second Pleasr House episode. So we brought him on to lead the documentary, as the director.

Do you intend for the doc to have traditional distribution?

We’re in conversations with some folks in Hollywood, and we wanna take it to that level. We want to see this on Netflix. That would be the most powerful place for it, right? We can tell an accessible, mainstream story about Doge. And you do it in a very fun, unique way that spreads a bit more of that joy.

What else do you want for the doc?

Obviously one of the important interviews we want to get is Elon.

Obviously.

We're still trying to make sure he's aware of the film. That’s one reason we’re doing more of a public approach to the documentary -- so that people can see this is a legit thing. A lot of our friends in Hollywood are like, “Yeah, you don't usually announce it like this.” I'm like, "Well, this is very different than a traditional film."

What are other ways that this Web3 doc is different from a traditional one?

Building in public, obviously, is the big one. And how do we plug the community into this? Maybe if we need to raise money, we could list the top 11 donors as producers in the front of the film. We definitely want to put anyone who’s part of owning the Doge -- the DOG holders -- in the credits. And I think that's very feasible. We also could vote on-chain.

Again, we have to mesh with the traditional world a bit, but I think we could vote on-chain or at least suggest on-chain, like do a snapshot [vote] with the Doge DAO about what we want the name of the film to be.

And there could be a kind of provenance of it being on-chain and having this track record of how the film came together. The timeline can be really cool. We have a bunch of ideas.

What else can you tell us about the content in the doc itself?

One of the themes we're exploring is, what’s the bigger thing that has happened here, with Doge? Crypto is a very strong part of the story of Doge, but it wasn't the beginning and may not be the end.

The stronger meaning to me is that maybe there's something greater about the connection of humans to dogs, and how that's happened throughout history. To a point where that’s why this photo tickled us so much. More than anything else, more than any other meme, animation, or drawing. Maybe there’s something deeper with dog and cats and our love for pets, and that could come out as this deeper meaning within the film.

Give us one final tease of something else the Doge DAO is doing?

We’re sending the Doge, or the photo of the Doge, to space. Into lunar orbit at some point. That's kind of a wacky wild one.

Courtesy of SpaceX?

We’re kind of waiting on those last details, but yeah, it's tied into SpaceX.

Edited by Ben Schiller.

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Jeff  Wilser

Jeff Wilser is the author of 7 books including Alexander Hamilton's Guide to Life, The Book of Joe: The Life, Wit, and (Sometimes Accidental) Wisdom of Joe Biden, and an Amazon Best Book of the Month in both Non-Fiction and Humor.


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