Dec 21, 2020
We’re revisiting some of the best Crypto Conversation podcast episodes of 2020. In this episode, we talk with Torsten Hoffmann a documentary filmmaker. His new film Cryptopia: Bitcoin, Blockchains and the Future of the Internet is now available online.
After writing a research paper on alternative currencies as part of his MBA at Oxford University, Torsten was intrigued by Bitcoin. In 2014 he started working on Bitcoin: The End of Money As We Know it, his first documentary. Hoffmann’s award-winning first film looks at Bitcoin in the context of the history of money. His new film, Cryptopia: Bitcoin, Blockchains and the Future of the Internet is a bigger budget, ambitious follow up that takes a 360 wide-angle approach to the technology that may define Web 3.0.
“Since the release of the first film, the industry has grown by a factor of 100. Bitcoin has been called one of the most disruptive technologies of our time. However, media coverage is often misinformed and the general public is still confused about the technology and its implications,” says Hoffmann. “Can this technology, designed to operate independent of trust and within a decentralized network, really provide a robust alternative? Or are cryptocurrencies just as unfairly distributed, easily manipulated, and dangerous as our current systems? That was my starting point.”
Filmed over two years Torsten says the new documentary has three arcs. "First we look at Bitcoin, then we look at the ecosystem, public / private blockchains and ICOs, and then we look forward at the potential of blockchain to unlock Web 3.0."
He interviewed some of the ecosystem’s biggest brains and biggest egos including Andreas Antonopoulos, Roger Ver, Charlie Lee, Samson Mow, Craig Wright, Preethi Kasireddy, and Wences Casares.
While the film has a global feel, with filming taking place on four continents in cities including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Tokyo, London, Berlin, Switzerland, and Melbourne, Hoffmann says the highlight of the filming schedule was being granted access to the Xapo vault located in a top secret location buried deep in the Swiss mountains.
Founded by Bitcoin entrepreneur Wences Casares, the Xapo vault is a decommissioned military bunker dug into the mountainside in a remote part of Switzerland. Its exact location is secret, and access is protected by a complex series of security measures.
“The bunker scene was a highlight and we are the only film crew to be allowed inside. Allegedly up to 10% of all Bitcoin private keys are stored in the Xapo vault. It was a James Bond style adventure to get clearance and film inside the bunker,” said Hoffmann.