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LIfe on Bitcoin, a documentary about a couple who live using the digital payment system instead of U.S. money, will release today on VidAngel, the movie-filtering service that has been butting heads with the major film studios for a few years.
Life on Bitcoin has been in the works since 2013, when newly married Austin and Beccy Craig decided to spend 100 days living exclusively off the cryptocurrency with a camera crew following them around.
VidAngel recently agreed to distribute the film, first on its platform, then on YouTube, iTunes and Amazon.com, according to CEO Neal Harmon.
VidAngel is known best for its service that strips profanity, sex, violence and whatever else users deem inappropriate out of mainstream movies to make them family friendly. It’s a service that has landed the Utah-based company in court, courtesy of Disney, Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox.
More quietly, though, VidAngel has been branching out into original content, first with movies The Last Descent and Tim Timmerman: Hope of America then with a series called Dry Bar Comedy.
“It features the largest collection of family-friendly stand-up comedy in the world,” Harmon says of Dry Bar Comedy. “The more filtering the audiences do, the lower the royalties, so we have comedians from New York and Los Angeles bending over backwards to be family friendly.”
Harmon says he agreed to distribute Life on Bitcoin not only because he likes the film but also because he uses Bitcoin, and he has introduced his children to it.
“My 14-year-old son mows the lawn, and he’d rather be paid in Bitcoin,” says Harmon. “It’s a system you can predict. You know the rules, and the rules won’t change.”
Bitcoin is an open-source system of peer-to-peer transactions that eschews banks and, of course, the Federal Reserve System and has caught on notably with libertarians. Ron Paul is a proponent, for example.
In the movie, the couple is seen trying to use Bitcoin at a Disney theme park, stores, gas stations — everywhere, with sometimes humorous results, such as when they try to pay off a traffic ticket.
On Thursday, the going rate for a single Bitcoin was nearly $2,600 (you buy and spend them in fractions, usually) but the exchange rate fluctuates. One man famously paid $27 for 5,000 Bitcoins in 2009 and six years later discovered they were worth $886,000.
“Bitcoin gives all participants a say in when more money is created,” says Harmon. “Digital currency is a hot topic right now, and this movie honestly answers the question: What roadblocks do they need to overcome?”
“We had to educate people about Bitcoin to pay for even simple necessities,” recalls Austin Craig, who also directed the movie. “That was an even greater challenge overseas, which contributed to making the film fascinating.”
See the trailer below.
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