The subjects of filmmaker Calvin (C.H.) Tran’s videos speak highly of his work. The two with whom Cointelegraph spoke regarding Tran’s upcoming documentary series “People In Bitcoin” say they are “happy to be a part of it” and, “It’s really cool what he is doing.”
“I am very happy to be a part of his new series because I am familiar with [Tran’s] work and think he is extremely talented.”
—Musician Ross Mintzer
Tran’s videos explore “the way cryptocurrency technology is fitting into the lives of ordinary people,” according to the website for his Indiegogo campaign. Tran and his team launched the campaign in order to raise money so that he could go independent with his project. On February 16, the production team sent out a press release announcing that the first three episodes had gone into pre-production, while the campaign itself continues until February 28. As of press time, they had raised US$230 of their US$2,250 goal.
Tran started producing and directing short videos covering the stories of people in Bitcoin while working as a journalist at CryptoCoinsNews (CCN). He published the first three installments with CCN and then realized that he wanted to create something bigger.
“The idea here is to talk about [Bitcoin] and bring it out into the open. Let's discuss how it helps, how it comes short, and who's trying the change that.”
His resources, however, were limited to that of the news site, which he says “simply couldn’t support video production.” By going independent, he hopes he’ll be able to achieve a project that can stand on its own, giving him access to more opportunities and “most importantly, more people.” Tran is aiming to create longer, more in-depth, television-show length videos that will “have a stronger impact.”
“It’s really cool what he is doing. [...] If it were to get spread around, and people were to start watching this, it would introduce a lot more people to Bitcoin. [Tran] does a great job with his videos. He’s really good at video production and he knows what he’s doing.”
—Lakota Lustig, Co-Developer of BitSell
So far, the series has consisted of two-minute videos exploring the lives of people from New York City, including artist Jenna Lash, store owner Elizabeth DuBois, and Professor David Yermack, who teaches a cryptocurrency class at NYU. According to statements made on the campaign website, Tran would like to cover the Bitcoin community on a global level:
“There is a whole global community out there and with these humble beginnings, we can start to lift the lid on the beauty within.”
The subjects of two of the three planned episodes shared their comments on the series, and a few details on their own pursuits. Musician Ross Mintzer and BitSell co-developer Lakota Lustig say Tran reached out to them and asked whether they would take part in his project. Mintzer says Tran, whom he met at the Bitcoin Center NYC, asked him to be the subject of his first independent episode.
Mintzer and his band, the Ross Mintzer Band, founded the Bitcoin Music Festival in NYC last spring. Sponsorship for the concert was so strong that they refunded the US$10 cost of the tickets, and concert goers were able to attend for free. According to the video series press release, the Mintzer episode may cover the festival and also talk about the humanitarian work Mintzer has done in Pakistan, where he taught music to children.
Mintzer first heard of Bitcoin in November 2013 in a FinTech article. He told Coinsetter in December 2014 that he “realized how large of an impact [cryptocurrencies] could potentially have on peoples’ lives everywhere.” This includes musicians receiving more fair compensation for their work, and the unbanked having access to financial services. He continued:
“[Bitcoin] is the closest thing to a revolution I have ever seen in my life. Bitcoin’s promise is to take humanity one small step closer to a global egalitarian society.”
Lustig says Tran reached out to him and his business partner, Sagar Kumar, over Twitter. CCN published an article about the young team and Tran filmed a video roundup of the week’s news, mentioning the article. He later asked them to be a part of his independent series.
Lustig and Kumar developed the BitSell ATM, which originally sold for US$150 as a tablet-based product, but now they give the software and license keys away for free as a web-based, open-source code that can be installed on any device. They make money by offering premium support. They sold two of the hardware-based ATMs, but since discontinuing the hardware model, Lustig says they’ve gained 35 new software customers.
The series press release describes Lustig and Kumar as “developers who are very passionate about looking [at] why it’s so difficult to enter and exit the Bitcoin market.” Lustig says they keep their model as decentralized as possible. “Credit card payments are processed by PayPal, so KYC information is already collected, and because we don’t operate the ATMs ourselves, we don’t have to follow any regulations besides normal business regulations. We’re just selling software.”
Lustig first heard about Bitcoin in 2012 when he was 13 and the price was about US$50. He says he dismissed it at the time. He started to take more notice when he saw large companies doing so. He already had experience with creating an online business through a website he called Podbeat. He designed the music search engine to promote unknown music artists, but when it didn’t do as well as he wanted, he turned to creating BitSell. He introduced Kumar to the cryptocurrency and they became co-developers of the ATM software.
The third “People in Bitcoin” episode in pre-production will cover Liz Bresler, pastry chef and founder of Gotham Cookies, whose business “largely rests on the internet community,” according to the press release. CT reached out to Liz, but could not reach her to ask for more details.
Tran will present his project at the Bitcoin Center NYC on February 19, where he will talk about “the past, present, and future prospects of this series.”
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