The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin. A title that evokes mixed emotions throughout the Bitcoin community. The film was released in April 2014 at the TriBeCa festival, but the expected online distribution was never offered. The Bitcoin community was furious, the documentary had been crowdfunded, and people felt like they had been hung out to dry for profit. The producers were slow to sign a distribution deal and the community has still not been able to watch the film they helped fund. However, that is all about to change thanks to film distributor Gravitas Ventures.
With the help of Coinbase, Gravitas is thought to have recently paid over 500 BTC (over $200k USD) for the worldwide rights to the film. Learning from the failure of the previous producers, they have wasted no time, and have hit the ground running. Not only are they premiering it in Cleveland, New York, and Los Angeles this Friday, but they are making the film available for Bitcoin directly from their site, Bitcoindoc.com, starting on Oct. 10.
In Cleveland, the film is premiering at Cedar Lee Theatre, which is located on the first and only American Bitcoin Boulevard. Initiated by local entrepreneur, Nikhil Chand, through his organization, CoinNEO, Bitcoin Boulevard US has become a smashing success. We caught up with Michael Murphy, President of Gravitas Ventures and Nikhil Chand, Founder of CoinNEO to discuss this premiere and what it means for the Bitcoin community at-large.
Chand: I started CoinNEO in Fall 2013, and it was inspired out of a desire to see if Bitcoin, an emerging technology in the midst of capturing the world interest, could really work in the fabric of life here in Cleveland. CoinNEO is dedicated to being a trusted local resource for Northeast Ohio businesses, of any size, interested in developing a Bitcoin strategy for their organization. CoinNEO provides educational, technical, and social media consultation with the expectation that Bitcoin will be well understood, and well implemented throughout the entire organization. The idea for Bitcoin Boulevard US occurred after seeing a handful of small businesses around the world enjoy global media attention simply for stating “Bitcoin Accepted Here.” Northeast Ohio is in the midst of an exciting renaissance period, and I was certain that Bitcoin Boulevard US would attract others from around the region, and hopefully even from around the globe who also had interests in Bitcoin. The formula was successful for The Wine Spot, which became a proof of concept for other merchants, and on May 1, 2014 Lee Road in Cleveland Heights, Ohio became Bitcoin Boulevard US. Since our launch, we continue to attract attention in mass media such as NPR, Newsweek, Fusion TV, KBS, and Wired.
Murphy: The film was on our target list when we covered the TriBeCa Film Festival earlier this year. We felt that the documentary film had all the qualities of a global success from a distribution standpoint: interesting, timely, a truly global topic, high production values, entertaining, and a filmmaking team that was very sharp and excited to collaborate. I re-located from Los Angeles to Cleveland last fall to grow our Cleveand-based operations and was vaguely aware of what was going on on Lee Road.
Murphy: After some due diligence, we discovered a very vibrant community of technologists and entrepreneurs in our back yard. The Cedar Lee has always been a great venue for independent cinema and a lot of Gravitas films play there. It's been great to collaborate with them on The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin.
Chand: The costs of traditional banking continues to rise with no end in sight, including the costs of international remittance, and the costs of conducting business with the world’s underbanked. This is a real problem for fair trade merchants, such as Revive on our Bitcoin Boulevard, which sources products from artisans around the globe. Traditional banking costs cut into the margins for the artisans and store owners, and the consumers pocket. Customers have shown great support, and we definitely have attracted new customers - from as close to a block away, to as far away as Miami, South Korea, and London. This project indeed fits into the culture of our community, and the media attention has been fun for everyone.
Murphy: The response has been overwhelmingly positive globally. We're excited to debut the film on VOD on 10/10/14 across the globe on video-on-demand and in 21 different languages. The film's been highly anticipated in the Bitcoin community. I'm aware of a few other films that are focusing on Bitcoin, but my hope is that whatever happens to Bitcoin, our film will always be relevant because is does such a good job of answering the question: What is Bitcoin? And that's what people want to know. We're always busy. The goal in film distribution is to try and find the gems and make them shine. I think this film is one of those gems.
Chand: I receive emails from people all over the world asking “How did you do it?”. One of these emails came early on from the creators of Calle Bitcoin in Madrid, launching, coincidentally, October 3rd. While I would love to chat with everyone, this is an extremely time consuming process with many areas of focus. I plan to create commercial materials that I can offer for those simply interested in the story, and as a tool for those interested in creating a Bitcoin Boulevard in their own community. We chose the name Bitcoin Boulevard US due to a similar district in The Netherlands, the first Bitcoin Boulevard in the world who happened to be working on this same idea. They were of great help to us and we continue to discuss our experiences. We envision many Bitcoin Boulevard districts around the globe, and hope to build bridges
Chand: I will host a pre-party at The Wine Spot, offering a Bitcoin 101 education session. A post-party will be held next door to Cedar Lee Theatre at Parnell’s Pub following the movie. The Cleveland Bitcoin Meetup group, of which I am the organizer, will be in attendance and there to answer any questions the general public may have surrounding Bitcoin technologies. For the week of the movie, retailers along Bitcoin Boulevard US will offer incentives for those who bring in a movie stub, mention Bitcoin, or pay in bitcoins. Full details for these incentives can be found at http://bitcoinboulevard.us/.
Michael Murphy President, Gravitas Ventures
Michael Murphy has been with Gravitas for 7 years and has spearheaded the grow of the company's distribution footprint in North America and internationally. He lives in Cleveland, OH is married and has one daughter. Before joining Gravitas, Michael Murphy served as a Judge Advocate in the United States Army.
Nikhil Chand Founder, CoinNEO
For over 15 years Nikhil has engineered enterprise technology solutions for colleges, universities, and small to medium sized businesses throughout Northeast Ohio. Nikhil started CoinNEO in Fall 2013, and it was inspired out of a desire to see if Bitcoin, an emerging technology in the midst of capturing the world interest, could really work in the fabric of life here in Cleveland. CoinNEO is dedicated to being a trusted local resource for Northeast Ohio businesses, of any size, interested in developing a Bitcoin strategy for their organization. CoinNEO provides educational, technical, and social media consultation with the expectation that Bitcoin will be well understood, and well implemented throughout the entire organization.
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