“In Twenty Years we will use Bitcoin as Naturally as We Use the Internet Today” - Aaron Koenig
An interview with Aaron Koenig, the managing director of Bitfilm Networks GmbH and the founder and organiser of Bitcoin Exchange Berlin (BXB), Europe’s first in-person Bitcoin exchange.
Cointelegraph: Bitfilm's been going from strength to strength since your last interview with Cointelegraph. What are you most excited about working on currently?
Aaron Koenig: We are currently working on a video trailer for the Bitcoin conference in Rio, on an explanatory video for a decentralized exchange, on a short ad for “The Book of Satoshi“ and on a documentary about the Dark Web for a public television station. We also plan to set up a film festival which only shows films on Bitcoin – we have been organizing film festivals for the last fourteen years – but we are still looking for sponsors to make this happen.
- A shot from the trailer for Conference in Rio
It would be a great event to reach out to many new people. Everybody loves to watch films, though, and there are more and more good films about Bitcoin, which work great to reach normal people who are interested in Bitcoin, but would never attend a conference or a meet-up.
CT: As a principal force behind making Bitcoin and related issues easy for anyone to understand, what have you noticed in terms of feedback in terms of public reactions in 2014?
AK: On the one hand, people are still very much influenced by mainstream media, who mostly report about Bitcoin when something negative happens, like the Mt Gox disaster. So there are still many prejudices and misconceptions about Bitcoin. On the other hand, more and more people are excited about it, go to conferences and meet-ups, like our weekly Bitcoin Exchange Berlin.
So the work that we and many other people do to educate and inform the public about Bitcoin seems to yield some results. But it is still a long way to go. The situation reminds me of the early 90s, when stupid people said the same things about the Internet that are being said about Bitcoin now: that nobody needs it, that it's too dangerous, that people only use it to do illegal things, all that nonsense.
My guess is that in twenty years we will laugh about this and use Bitcoin – or its successors – as naturally as we use the Internet today.
CT: With the increasing popularity of Bitcoin, are you starting to see more Cryptocurrency companies opting for your services?
AK: Yes, we get many requests for new films sometimes several a week. Not all lead to jobs, though, as some people have unrealistic ideas about the production costs. We work with animators from India and Eastern Europe, so we can offer high quality for very competitive prices – but animation is a lot of work, so it cannot be cheap. As more and more venture capital goes into crypto companies, I am positive that the need for professional content and the budgets to fund it will grow.
CT: Can you describe the process of making your short videos? How do you find your animators? Where do you get your ideas etc?
AK: We have organized a festival for digital animation for the last 14 years, so many contacts to animators around the world come through this. In 2011 I taught at a private animation school in Bangalore, which brought us most of our contacts in India. We work closely with the clients to generate the ideas and the script, as they know best which message they want to get across, but usually not how to do it.
The challenge is to understand what the clients have in their minds, which is usually quite complex and difficult, and then to translate it into simple, entertaining stories that everyone understands. It helps that we know a lot about Bitcoin ourselves, but we need to keep a fresh beginner's minds to make the films fun and easy to understand.
In animation, the sound always comes first, so we begin by recording the voices – we work a lot with Stephanie Murphy from “Let's talk Bitcoin” for that – then the music is composed and arranged, mostly by the genial Julio Kladniew from Buenos Aires. You can't underestimate the importance of sound. For the emotional impact of a film it is even more important than the visuals, as the acoustic centre in the brain is very close to the emotional centre.
For the animation we work with many different animators from India, Poland, Serbia and Estonia, as we want to be able to offer different styles and techniques, but also to be able to handle several productions at the same time. I am writing and directing everything, but that's the easiest part. Having ideas is simple, they just come to my mind - selling them to the client is the harder part. Fortunately we have great and courageous clients who let us realize even the weirdest ideas.
Directing means that people send me stuff they have been working on, and I write them emails on what I or the client want to be changed. That takes me some minutes and they usually work for some days on it before they come back to me again. So I am able to juggle many productions simultaneously, which is fun.
CT: What are some concepts or ideas that you haven't covered yet which you think still need to reach the public?
AK: There is no lack of new concepts and ideas; the critical question is how to reach more people with them. For now we have no control about what happens to the short films, this depends on our clients. So it would be great to work not only for start-ups, but also for big Internet companies with lots of traffic, for TV or for cinema.
We are working on a script for a full length feature film, set in a world where Bitcoin has become as normal as the Internet today, but the focus lies on a fictive story with lots of suspense and action – things that people like to watch when they go to the cinema. So the educational aspect is very subtle, people will learn something about Bitcoin while they are drawn in by a compelling story.
CT: If someone was interested in your services, could they pay in Bitcoin?
AK: Sure. We pay our free lancers in Bitcoin, so we even prefer to be paid in Bitcoins.
Here are some short clips created by BitFilm:
You can check other videos by Bitfilm here.