Australians crowdfund bitcoin documentary series
Sunday 22 June 2014
The bitcoin movement has seen such a huge expansion on a global scale over the past year or so with millions of dollars of venture capital funding, government regulation and more mainstream media coverage, that despite it still being in its infancy, those who are heavily involved and committed to its promotion, could be forgiven for forgetting that there is still a lot of work to be done at a grass roots level.
Step forward a small team from Melbourne, who are setting out to show exactly what is being done and what developments are happening at that level in Australia. Chris Mylrae and Dale Dickins are in the process of making a documentary; a mini-series exploring the impact that crypto-currency is having on real people’s lives. The duo embarked on the project after Dale approached Chris to help with her online venture to “capture the spirit of bitcoin and the crypto-movement,” Chris tells us.
“Money or currency is one of the fundamental groundings of modern society – and that’s whether we like it or not! So, especially with crypto-currency stories tickling the sensationalist mass-media, we wanted to document what was happening at a roots level in Australia,” he explains.
Dale had been inspired by a Pozible crowdfunding workshop and says they began the process, initially looking at charting the progress of bitcoin in Melbourne. This eventually expanded and so far they have visited Launceston, in Tasmania, and Sydney, to conduct interviews and document real events happening around Australia.
“The ideas and vision for crypto-currency here in Australia have been amazing.”
Chris is incredibly enthusiastic about the growing bitcoin scene in Australia and the people and stories they have met throughout filming. “For instance, Adam in Launceston spoke about his project “Get Paid in Bitcoin” – where he is setting up a direct deposit system so that everyday people can opt to have a fixed amount of their pay package delivered as bitcoin. Chris from Earth and Sky Organics also spoke about the vision of getting our farmers on board to accept crypto-currencies and building a system that connects farmers to the consumer – so you can track everything you eat back to the place it was produced. We’ve seen a mining rig stashed away in a bathroom (coolest place to be apparently), been in supermarkets with pop-up crypto-roadshows and… I could keep talking but I don’t want to spoil all the surprises!”
If that hasn’t intrigued you, their teaser video also gives you a taste of what this mini-series is all about:
The bitcoin community down under have all proved very supportive.
“One thing I love about the opensource community is the meritocratic nature,” Dale says. “Support is provided when needed, we work together to tackle issues, yet we all work autonomously and independently from each other on our own projects.
“People are identifying gaps and stepping up to fill them with their unique skill sets, so the culture is constantly changing.
Startups are growing phenomenally fast, which means new boundaries are being put in place to comply with their Venture Capitalist framework for example.
Legal issues are being addressed by the Association and core groups; we're sharing information and keeping each other up to date with the disruption crypto currencies are causing.
Melbourne's crypto community is alive and vibrant, and growing at a healthy rate.”
Dale has always expressed her mission “to make Melbourne the bitcoin capital of the world,” and she is certainly putting her all into achieving this. “I suspect Sydney are secretly trying to get more dots on Bitscan, however right now according to [BitScan’s] map, Melbourne is the capital of Australia! Eat that Sydney.”
For a woman who has been introduced as “the crazy woman who talks to businesses about bitcoin,” the documentary was the next logical step in promoting crypto-currency and increasing engagement in the scene.
The pair hope to have the first part of the documentary completed by September this year, with the second by May 2015 and the final part the following September, but as Chris says, it will very much “depend on what’s happening.”
The films will be released on Vimeo, because “they’re a nice bunch,” says Chris and he has personally met a few of the guys based out in New York. “This is where any extended cuts and bonus material will be hosted too,” he says. It will also be hosted to You Tube because Chris says this is “the junk food of the Internet and where people discover “stuff”.” It will all be released under the Creative Commons Licence and offered to any community broadcasters.
Ultimately, it all comes down to money (fiat or bitcoin of course.) The team hope to crowdfund $25,000 through the Pozible campaign and after just three days are already at almost $2000. Half of that they managed to raise shortly after launching the campaign earlier this week, at an event where people could talk to experts, buy items for bitcoin and for newcomers, receive $10 worth of bitcoin to get them started.
The funding will help them complete the three planned episodes by covering the filming, flights, production costs and web hosting. They are also hoping to head to New Zealand to record the bitcoin scene there and attend the New Zealand conference.
The documentary is about driving participation and giving people confidence to use bitcoin and ask questions about it.
“At the launch prior to the screening we found we had to talk a lot more about wallets, how to upload them and how to use them before giving people their bitcoin. In total we gave bitcoin away 38 times, 35 per cent of those were straight after the screening when there was a queue of women ready with their wallets to receive their coins,” says Dale.
What we concluded is that by visually showing people how to use the currency and introducing them to Melbournes' merchants, something gelled, we noticed a difference in behaviour patterns before and after the screening. General feedback was that people were very impressed with the quality of the video and really like what we're up to, one woman said she'd been struggling to explain it to her friends and showing them the series would fill a gap - PERFECT! Mission accomplished.”
“[It’s about] awareness,” says Chris. “Especially putting Australia on the map in the crypto-scene!! A lot of people are very curious about Australia – we’re an exotic place y’ know. And I think because of our playful nature, we’ll end up capturing a lot of the Aussie battler spirit at a roots level.”
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