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I’ve discussed the importance of finding a niche audience and serving that audience with your films and content in my book Rise of the Filmtrepreneur. Today on the show a filmmaker has done just that. We have Australian filmmaker and Filmtrepreneur, Torsten Hoffmann. His niche audience is people interested in crypto, blockchain, and NFTs.
Torsten’s interest in cryptocurrencies dates back to a paper on Alternative Currencies he wrote while doing his MBA.
By 2013, Bitcoin piqued his interest and soon after materialized into his 2015 directorial debut documentary, Bitcoin: The End of Money as We Know It. The documentary is a concise and informative crash course about Money and Crypto Currencies.
The success of his first film documentary slanged Torsten into high-profile speaking engagements at MIPTV & MIPCOM, AIDC, and Medientage, to speak on blockchain-related trends.
Last year, he produced and directed a subsequent documentary, Cryptopia: Bitcoin, Blockchains and the Future of the Internet.
Basically, he revisits Bitcoin and sets out to explore the evolution of the blockchain industry and its new promise. It asks the fundamental question; Can this technology, designed to operate independent of trust and within a decentralized network, really provide a robust alternative to the Internet as we know it?
This film has since gone on to be one of the most consumed pieces of content in his niche. From the way, he marketed the film to the title Torsten used the Filmtrepreneur Method in every aspect of making the film.
He has also launched numerous entrepreneurial ventures to support independent content creators with his passion for media and technology. If it’s one person who can break down the sometimes intimidating ideas of blockchain, Hoffmann is the man. We also do a deep dive in NFTs as well.
So, enjoy this unofficial third-part episode on NFT with Torsten Hoffmann.
Alex Ferrari 0:12
I'd like to welcome to the show Torsten Huffman, how you doing Torsten?
Torsten Hoffmann 0:16
Thank you, Alex. Thanks so much. I've been following your work for a long time. This is an honor. Thank
Alex Ferrari 0:19
you. Oh, thank you so much, man. I appreciate it. Yeah, you reached out. And you said, You watched you've listened to a lot of my podcast and also read my book. And then I saw what you were doing. And I was very fascinated, and wanted to kind of dig into the numbers of what you've been doing with niche, niche marketing, and it's filmmaking. So it's pretty cool, man. So but let's, before we get started, how did you get into the business?
Torsten Hoffmann 0:42
Yeah, I'm coming from the evil side of the business. As you like to say, I used to be a television distributor, like a small shop that I opened in 2012 when 3d was the latest hot thing where I'm like, avatar came out there was producing 3d. And I became like, in the documentary market, one of those distributors specialize in 3d documentaries, and then switch quickly to 4k development in VR, virtual reality and 360 videos as well. So I've been in kind of the the emerging formats, part of the documentary distribution business.
Alex Ferrari 1:13
So very cool. Now, you've made you've decided to be a filmmaker who kind of chose chooses niches and the niches of two films that you did, where Bitcoin and blockchain kind of like a high tech audience that you've kind of cultivated Why did you choose how and why did you choose that niche?
Torsten Hoffmann 1:35
Yeah, I, you know, I've heard some of your other guests say this, that it's kind of like your niche sometimes chooses you or whatever, whatever the saying is, so for me was I have a little bit of a finance background. I heard about alternative currencies many many years ago, then heard about Bitcoin and it kind of clicked immediately for me because I had a little bit of a financial background and wrote a paper on alternative currencies in 2010 so when I heard about Bitcoin 2013 it was immediately clear Wow, this is gonna change the world. This is the project I should make my first film on. It was kind of like like not not much more thinking about this. And then later turned out there was a really good idea a really good time. 2014 15 to Yeah, find this niche audience and and create a fan base.
Alex Ferrari 2:20
So what so tell me the film that you created for this for the for this niche?
Torsten Hoffmann 2:26
Yeah, so the first one was Bitcoin, the end of money as we know it, I made it in 2014 with a partner, Michael, and released it in 2015. And that was Kickstarter funded and self funded, I would say mostly, it went viral on the internet and was doing okay, on on video on demand. And now, five years later, or four or five years later, the new film is called cryptopia, Bitcoin blockchain and the future of the Internet. So all the buzzwords are in it for sociability and that one is much bigger, so much bigger production budget, supported by Screen Australia, supported by German broadcasters, and again fans on on Kickstarter and self
Alex Ferrari 3:01
funded so those films so let's get into the weeds a little bit. So with Bitcoin, obviously, Bitcoin is one of those things that everyone's talking about. And it's, it's, you know, polarizing one way or the other people either love it, you know, it's the future or people think it's a complete scam. I'm on the I'm on the fence. I have no idea. It's like, I see it go up and down on like, you know, I would have liked to have bought it when it was five bucks. Like, you know, like that one poor guy who's got like $70 million or something like that locked away for God his code or something like that. So insane. But the whole concept of Bitcoin how So first of all, how did you raise funds for it? You crowdfunded it?
Torsten Hoffmann 3:43
Yeah, so we're talking about the first one all right, yes, back in history and 2014 Yep, um, that was crowdfunding a half half of it crowdfunded half of it of my own money, let's say relatively low budget, lots of archive footage and interviews that I shot in five or six cities. So I'm I should actually say I'm based in Australia. I'm originally German and of course a lot of the content is produced in America because that's where a lot of the industry happens. So I'm usually we you know, spread three continents or cryptokeys in four continents.
Alex Ferrari 4:13
And did you did you start targeting and building your audience with the crowdfunding campaigns?
Torsten Hoffmann 4:19
Yep, that was exactly the start and the way to do it and I heard you say this before just an idea do not get funded so you need to show people something right so creating the first sizzle we have some of the interviews some of the drama already and making making this story may be grand as it is more dramatic as it is because just as you say, people love it and think this is like you know the best thing since sliced bread or it's a total scam right? And if you use all that drama you and you have some some material, and that's how we funded the first case,
Alex Ferrari 4:50
in the whole concept of Bitcoin, I want to just kind of get into the weeds a little bit about Bitcoin because, you know, the technology itself is very His very utopia, very kind of like, you know, Shangri La, where like a decentralized currency. You know, it sounds fantastic. Obviously some people are taking seriously there is a lot of money in Bitcoin, there's a lot of serious players jumping in. What do you feel that is going to happen? Do you think I mean, there is the only problem I have with Bitcoin is that there is no tangible value, it's a digital value. So there's a there it is like gold, it's digital gold, you know, there's a limited quantity, all that stuff, but it's all digital. So there's like, if the power goes out in the world, you've lost everything. But if you have a bunch of gold, and people could argue gold all day long, but it's still been money since the beginning of time. There is there's something about gold and silver and those kinds of things. But it's an asset, it's something you could physically hold. What do you I'm just curious on your take on it. Yeah.
Torsten Hoffmann 6:01
And I look at everything that you said, is worth a whole show. And I've done these two shows before, by itself. Let me maybe I'm not quite sure how to tackle it. But let me first say, in 2014, Bitcoin was a crazy thing. Nobody really took it seriously except a few libertarian on a case and like, like people who bought drugs on the on the internet, totally true. very risky. But that time Bitcoin was still $200. Right? I mean, those those people took great risks were very well rewarded. It's $60,000. Now, right? And today, if you look at it, it's actually been so it has failed in a lot of use cases, for example, people don't really use it as a as a currency, right? I don't think you've you've paid for your last Amazon book or something on Bitcoin. But it really has succeeded as as digital gold. And now every single investment bank, every single government, right, and some big companies are using it to put it on the Treasury or something like that. So I think it's much less risky now, and much more serious, big money. It's not worth a trillion dollars or a trillion dollars.
Alex Ferrari 7:08
Yeah. And it's only getting bigger and bigger and bigger. So you're able to tap into that phase. Have you seen a boost in people watching that documentary? Because it's been in the news pretty heavily in the last few years. And, and the just jumped up to like, you know, the heights and a drops down, it's just so volatile, it's a very volatile thing. Cannot be manipulated, you know, is it being manipulated? It's hard to manipulate something that has a price point of $60,000, you need to be players to come in and manipulate that stuff. Yeah,
Torsten Hoffmann 7:41
I mean, in 2014 15, sure, you can like one one rich whale, as they call it can probably manipulate the price. But at the moment, it's so liquid, there's so many players all around the world. And Coinbase, the largest crypto exchange in in America. And the second biggest in the world is going on the stock exchange, right, and the New York Stock Exchange this month or next month, and that company alone is worth more than the NASDAQ. And why is he as investor companies already? So there's, there's hundreds of millions of people using it and trading I thought sort of, it's hard to manipulate. But to to your earlier point, this is actually interesting, right? Because I chose maybe it was just lucky, I chose a topic that people hate or love or just are confused about so they need to get education about it. And every time it's in the press, right? I see a pickup in my video on demand. revenues. And yeah, it's one of those topics that people just deal first time you hear it must be a scam. Second time, you know, who's trying to scam me, right? And then fourth, fifth, sixth time, maybe they watch a documentary, and then they maybe dig deeper.
Alex Ferrari 8:47
Right? And then so the the value of so you are seeing the jump. Are you seeing it on Amazon? Are you have you been kicked off of Amazon yet? Or did you because I know documentaries have been kicked off and you know where you making most of your revenue from in in the VOD space. Avon or teavana. restaurant?
Torsten Hoffmann 9:06
Yeah. Um, so, again, two films, right. The old film was on Amazon, but then was a victim of that company that we don't like to talk about, but you uncovered the scandal and the whole thing. Well, thank you for your Yes, for your journalistic work there. So I was a victim of that. And then got back in with Phil Hart, both both films actually, via film up onto Amazon and then got kicked off so that because it's old, it's kind of, you know, lower budget kind of film, even though it did very well on Amazon. Most of my revenue, I think came back in the day on Capitol Hill. And now a little bit on Vimeo, it's it's five, six years old. So now change it to Avon. And it has, I think, maybe 2 million views last year on YouTube alone, which is also a nice bunch of money, right? But but with cryptopia award winning film brand new. That one again with film hop is on the major platforms, and we're doing quite well on on Amazon and we're lucky enough to be kicked off.
Alex Ferrari 10:02
Yeah, exactly. So so cryptopia Now you've kind of like amplify that but now you through blockchain and there you through all these kind of keywords which is extremely smart. So anyone look I've seen your your documentaries come through my my feed many times because I've done research on blockchain and research on Bitcoin and, and kind of going just doing research just out of my own morbid curiosity about what blockchain is and the technology and the future of it and all that stuff. And you pop up, and you have a great poster. Great, great poster. Great title. And I was always curious and how you were, how you doing? financially? Like it wasn't making money?
Torsten Hoffmann 10:42
Well, you know, the calculation is always difficult, because if we were to calculate our own time, right, no,
Alex Ferrari 10:49
no, no, you can't do that.
Torsten Hoffmann 10:52
Right now. But But luckily, so for the for growtopia. I had many funding partners, right. So the German broadcaster came in, they get the German rights, but get get get me a bunch of approximately, so that was good. Again, Kickstarter. That's, that's non diluted. Capital, right. So I'm able to, largely funded with other sources, right, and then everything that's now coming in, not everything, but a large share of that is his profit, if you will. But I'm also spending on Facebook ads, I'm also spending on film festivals and all these things that you keep talking about. And it takes a long time to build that audience. And that
Alex Ferrari 11:26
that platform, do you have a central hub where everything's coming in as far as like gathering customer information, emails, things like that? Or is email a big thing for you? Or are you literally just hanging out in the other platforms? Are you driving people to a website, where you can capture their email, so you can have a direct relationship with the customer?
Torsten Hoffmann 11:45
Now that's, you know, Alex, that is the key question. I mean, honestly, I'm probably doing a better job than average, but not not not good enough. And people listening to this thinking about their filmmaking career. This is actually where you should start your whole journey. So yes, I do collect an emails, I might have maybe 4000 email addresses by now. But most of the viewership, I just saw the statistics, we have 6 million minutes viewed on on Amazon last month. So over a year, like I don't know, 15 million minutes views. So it's a huge audience that is totally lost. So other than, you know, five star ratings and some of that, and a good IMDb score, I'm not really getting anything, I can't tap into that. platform. But you know, some people end up at crypto crypto.com some people do sign up for a newsletter, some people then go to my Udemy course on blockchain. You know, that's, that's one of the things that I took from your books as well. It's not that, you know, the Udemy course doesn't make me rich, but it's just you know, it's one of those little pieces of the puzzle. And please, let me remind me to tell you about Television Distribution, because that is now kicking in, which is a very, very promising as well.
Alex Ferrari 12:53
So yeah, tell me tell me about the Television Distribution.
Torsten Hoffmann 12:56
Yeah, so um, it's kind of funny, even though that's kind of my background, this television market and licensing, I didn't really quite understand it. And until and now that I always focused on making cryptopia film The Best Film possible for my audience for those crypto nerds and those blockchain lovers, right. And so it ended up being an 86 minute film, but the television market, they need a TV hour. So so it took me much more time than it really should have taken me down to four reformatted for the television audience, television audience much more mainstream, much less technical, you know, all the bullet points, all the technical details needed to be stripped out but now that I have finally finally have this TV, our the deals are coming in. So we've closed maybe eight or nine television deals a total of 450 million TV homes. The biggest one is LG zero, and the biggest TV channel in Germany, they pre bought the rights but then you know that the top TV channels in Poland and Russia and Israel and places like that so and all these license steals, and they end up with nice, nice license fees.
Alex Ferrari 14:05
That's fantastic. Now how are you reaching your audience? Do you are you doing any marketing and a huge I like I said, Are you driving people back to your website? Or you you just basically hoping that people watch the movie and then just come to cryptopia? Calm?
Torsten Hoffmann 14:20
Yeah, I mean, by now it's a lot of word of mouth, right? Because if, let's say whatever the amount is, maybe 50% of people that watch the film really liked it, because they are interested in the topic and they learn from it. Right? And then they talk until their friends and family so I think most of it by now is word of mouth and doing a little bit of on Twitter, I'm doing a little bit of Facebook. But I wouldn't say that um, I just started actually with fire TV as as well that there's a there's a program we can advertise on on Amazon as well. But I don't think any of these marketing activities are actually ROI positive. So it's good for branding. So when you see you see my films before so clearly, I've done some Right, but it's not that $1 spent on Twitter or Facebook will get me 1.1 dollars in VOD revenue, that that doesn't work.
Alex Ferrari 15:07
But if you had other revenue sources like a Udemy course, like something else, that you can drive people into your into your ecosystem, and because this is a perfect example, I think that growtopia is a amazing case study, if you were able to have your entire marketing campaign driving people into a website, where because it's such a technical thing, and such a thing, it's such a people are very passionate about. So if you had a Bitcoin course, if you had a blockchain course, and if you had multiple different online products that could help with that you become affiliates to coin base, I don't know, I'm just throwing that out there, whatever that is, to, to incorporate them into what they're looking for the revenue that you can generate. The month the moving money is, it's it's relevant. It's a it's a, it's a loss leader at that point.
Torsten Hoffmann 15:57
Yeah, and that's true. And every 50th person seeing it right there, a CEO of organization, or they run an association, or they're university professors, so they start contacting me and say, let's do an event, right, and that event might suddenly bring me $500. Right. So so there's, there's this effect as well. And another point that I really want to stress is, this is not really about one film, it's more about like your whole career, like your body of work, right. And you talk about this Ryan Holiday has a fantastic book called perennial seller, it's all about your building from one to the next. So as I'm lucky so I have Bitcoin, the end of money, that's like a intro thing for our money and Bitcoin. Now, this blockchain or the new development, my next one about the next technology, it just keeps getting bigger and bigger, right, and what book authors do, for example, they have the series, right, and then they can discount when something new comes out, they can discount the the earlier farms and sell it as a package. So you can do much more when you have more than just one film.
Alex Ferrari 16:58
Now do you have you thought of putting together a special edition where you put an edited interviews up in a course or in a special edition where people can buy like people who are really interested in like, hey, if you like the movie, here's eight hours of unedited interviews with all of these experts, and sell it, I've seen that work extremely well. Because, again, your audience is so passionate about that tech audience is first tech savvy. Secondly, generally they're going to be a little bit higher, they're going to make a little bit more money. So they're going to be a little bit more affluent, and willing to spend money on a digital product, because their their interest is digital product. So it is it was a no brainer to create as many, many online products as you can and bring them into this ecosystem where you can consider and considering like you just saying, you're building a career around the technology space, doing like first was Bitcoin cryptopia. And now your next film, you're building a library, you're building a bunch of stuff you really could be cleaning up, sir.
Torsten Hoffmann 18:06
Yeah, and I should be doing a better job of that, you know, that there's, I mean, I agree with everything that you just said. But I think there's three or four reasons why I want to be careful. So first of all, you don't want to be the person, you know, just selling you whatever cryptocurrency, right? I mean that that will just hurt the reputation. That's number one. Number two is the process of making a deity wearing the film and then having it marketed. And now that the shelf life of it is many, many years so that those interviews that I did back then, are maybe not that relevant. Third point is there's so much free content, especially in that space, few podcasts and video views. So I'm not sure how much value it can be, especially because it's kind of out of date. And the last point that I would make, you know, documentary filmmakers know this, you know, out of the two hour interview with someone who's super interesting, like a university professor or a billionaire investor, or like a startup entrepreneur, or have two hours, you might really only be interested in four or five minutes. And for a film, you cut that into two times 20 seconds, that this is the energy, the laugh the energy, right, and then the rest might not be that
Alex Ferrari 19:14
useful. But but but the cryptopia interviews, I'm assuming they're all updated, right? Those are all up to date interviews, right? So that's all there's some value there. I'd argue that you could put together, you know, extended 30 or 40 minute interviews with all of the key people package it all together. And the one thing you might underestimate and this is turned into a coaching session, which is fine, I have no problem doing it. This is very educational for people listening. I feel that you under you're under estimating the emotional attachment to your film, because when I watch a movie, you know I've been vegan for a long long time. And I used to watch all those like you know food for food for for fork over knives and food for thought and all those kind of good stuff. Dorothy cowspiracy all those kinds of things, right? When I would go after I watched the movie, I was so emotionally attached to the film, because it gave me so much information about something I was emotionally attached to. That emotional attachment is extremely powerful. So if I watch cryptopia, and it's given me a lot of information about blockchain about Bitcoin about things that I'm passionate about, if I've gone online, and I've gone to your website, the chances of me being open to purchasing something to extend that experience is extremely high, the the close rate, if you will, would be extremely high, much higher than a cold read that you know, some like I would be considered a hot, a hot customer a hot lead, because I'm coming to your site to investigate what you are about what else you have. And chances are that if you have something else for 4999 9999, maybe a private coaching session about Bitcoin, maybe you know a course about blockchain or Bitcoin, all these other products, if I'm going to be really game, to probably go down that rabbit hole, because I'm emotionally attached to so yes, there's 1000 podcasts, and 1000 other videos about stuff. And you know what, there's 1000 other podcasts that teach about filmmaking, there's 1000 other podcasts, 1000 other books about filmmaking out there, but for whatever reason, you started listening to my podcast, then you bought then which was free, then you bought my book? And then when did he break down,
Torsten Hoffmann 21:42
and then I recommended it to five other people. So
Alex Ferrari 21:45
it works. Well, the concepts work, but then you got emotionally attached to the information I'm giving you because I'm helping you on your journey. So now there's an attachment to to this. So all these other things that I might be able to come up with, like let's say, I come up with a film shoprunner course which I should be doing, but I don't have time. But if like after you read that book, and you're like, oh, at the end, like, by the way, if you want to take the entrepreneurial course, which we can dive in deeper into all these techniques, what are the chances that you're going to go out and probably buy that? Do you see what I mean? So that's why I think you I think you might be leaving a little money on the table. That's just my opinion, just my opinion.
Torsten Hoffmann 22:23
Not 100%, right. It's also time management and things like that, actually, you example about the vegan documentary. I actually, like when I speak at film festivals or something I go, I always mentioned that as a perfect nice group, because they are so so passionate, right? And I think in your book, you had this example, I'm not sure. Was it a cooking folk organized? Or did they have like Homer knives?
Alex Ferrari 22:44
Oh, yeah, family, food matters has their own Empire, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead juicing guy, he built an entire business around two documentaries, basically off one documentary. And then he built out two other documentaries, feeding that space. And then he's got coaches now and people who wanted to learn about juicing, and he has product placement deals with the juicing company, and it's just, it's built all this off of one fairly low budget documentary, it wasn't that great. But there's an emotional attachment. And that's when you when you're able to tap into the emotion with a customer. That's why documentaries are so much easier to sell than a narrative film. Because the narrative and it's so much harder.
Torsten Hoffmann 23:30
Yeah, and especially if you know, your audience, and my audience, luckily, is also pretty clearly defined. And these are great examples. Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 23:37
yeah. So it's something that you might want to think about in the future, you know, cuz you already started doing it with the Udemy course. And it's like, little bit by little bit. But I like I even literally, in my, in my book, if you remember, in my book, I use the book, as a callback for you to go to my websites, constantly throughout the book. I'm inserting, like, if you want more information, go to this link here some more. And I have bonuses that I have on my website. And once I have you on my website, then I can further service you, I could provide more service to you whether it's free, obscene amount of free content, obscene amount of right, I give away way too much content. But I give away a lot of free but I'm like, if you want a little bit more here, you can pay for something.
Torsten Hoffmann 24:20
So So is there a good rule of thumb in terms of how often do you send out offers or promotions or an up sale email to your email list? And because isn't isn't the fear that people will get annoyed and then unsubscribe. But I'm on the other side, I have 4000 email addresses and I've never emailed them because, you know, this is all cryptopia until my next book comes out in two years, I don't really want to make them get annoyed at me.
Alex Ferrari 24:47
So what you would do is if you have a list, you need to start building a relationship with them. So I would I would either be building content, whether that be videos about about blockchain Conversations bonus video interviews that you can post somewhere on YouTube and send it to them like hey, or even better posted behind a paywall, but you're giving it to them for free. And like, if you want to see more, come over here and we have a new, you know, we had another eight hours of this stuff. And you'd be surprised what you find boring, added that to our conversation, somebody else might find fascinating. As long as there's value there, you're not you're the game at the end of the game, you've got to provide value to your audience, you got to provide value to your customer. And as far as selling to them, the way I look at it, because you know, I've my entire business is online, and I have multiple brands and I do multiple things. I provide so much free value, that that's never a question. So I am constantly I mean I produce, I'm so far ahead of anybody else in my space, in regards to the amount of content that I put out. And at the quality that I put out that there's just no one that even comes close to me. It's just because I've been doing that for the last six years. So when I, when I sell, I'll go Hey, guys, we got a new course, if you're interested in distribution, I just did a six hour distribution course that will teach you how not to get screwed by distributors. And I took and I did it personally and it's me going through the whole thing and, and that that course has done extremely well for me for me. But um, but at the end of the game is not about the money. That's the thing, where a lot of people forget that that's where a lot of people fail, is because they're like, Oh, I want to make money with no money. I'm gonna try to get money out of my audience. No, it's not that, how can I serve the audience. So your audience is looking for information about Bitcoin about blockchain, about that kind of technology, I want to go deeper down that rabbit hole, I want to go deeper into the weeds about that. So if I don't give it to you, if you don't give it to me, I'm gonna go find it somewhere else, I'll buy someone else's course I'll so it's up to you, if you've got someone's attention, which you have a great calling card, which is your film, then it's your honestly, it's your job to provide better service to me as the customer, and give me what I'm looking for. Because if I'm going to your website, off of a movie, and I actually took the time in today's world to search for you, and I land on your website, and you don't have something to capture my email, you don't have some sort of free giveaway, you don't have a course, or a special edition, or coaching or courses or anything a mouse pad that says crypto piano, I don't know, whatever it is, I think you're not only failing yourself, but you're filling me as a customer because because it's high intent, right? It's the highest intent
Torsten Hoffmann 27:49
you can ever have that people come and search for your film or for for for you. And then you have to have product and
Alex Ferrari 27:56
and yeah, and I honestly think it's just been I've learned this over the course of my time doing what I do is you've got to prioritize this, you have to prioritize creating product and creating value for your audience that they can pay for. Because they want to reciprocate they want to give back to you. And if you can help them along their journey, you know, as long as you're not, you know, stealing from them or like, you know, charging them obscene amounts of money or something like that for something that there's no value for. But if you're being fair with them, and you're putting in your time, and I'm telling you, they'll be happy so that 4000 people on your list, I would right now just start emailing them like, Hey, I just found this article, even if you curate other people's content, other articles have seen that you provide value to to the audience and then in that you go Oh, by the way, if you want to go deeper down the rabbit hole on blockchain, I just released this. If you've been giving away free free content, content content, when it's time for you to ask for something, it's it's what Gary Vee, Gary Vaynerchuk says, you know Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, you give, give, give, give, give, ask give, give, give, give, give, ask. And that's, that's the way it goes.
Torsten Hoffmann 29:08
Yeah. And you know, the other thing that's obviously coming up soon is that your world in my world will kind of converge soon with with the creator economy and blockchain technology enabling all sorts of new models, right for filmmakers, and creatives, including those NF T's that everybody is now talking about at the moment. So, no,
Alex Ferrari 29:27
I was waiting for you to say NFT I was just waiting to have a conversation about an fd. We'll get to it in a second. But
Torsten Hoffmann 29:33
yeah, no, I'm just I mean at the moment, and people talk about you know, those little NBA clips or maybe a digital piece of artwork, but as soon as soon enough, filmmakers will NFT like, make their mint, their film and maybe even have the royalty streams all on the blockchain. So I think things like that will, let's say give it a year time and then this will become a real model for us.
Alex Ferrari 29:59
So Alright, so For everyone listening, can you explain what the NFT is because now it is exploding after that $70 million art by and the NBA and I've just been I've been personally I've been just watching YouTube video after YouTube video explaining to I think someone's mentioned NF T's to me a little like maybe three or four weeks ago, and then all of a sudden it is exploded in popularity and in design of, of society. Now, everybody knows what an NF T is. And now everyone's like, wait a minute, what's what's going on? I'd love to to just explain what an NF T is for the audience.
Torsten Hoffmann 30:35
Yes, um, so NF T stands for non fungible token. And I will get to what it means a little bit later. But I think the best way to explain it is actually the major major innovation that Bitcoin brought along. And Bitcoin is using its own blockchain as a as kind of like the database is to create something that's digital, but also stops right before that you can copy paste any digital file anything that's available copy paste, there's no value in anything digital, because you can you can multiply it with a blockchain, which is just a shared database that that's run on computers all over the world. Everybody agrees on the same database, who owns what Bitcoin in this case, we suddenly have something that's unique and scars, right? Something digital, in bitcoins case, it's money or digital gold, but it could be tied to something else. So now people are starting to do is they basically tied the ownership or the right, or the authenticity of a digital piece of art into the blockchain. And that's what's called as non fungible. So there's only one unique one token. And there's now this craze going on about people buying into all sorts of NF T's, from hard work to NBA moments to songs, and so surely movies as well.
Alex Ferrari 31:56
Yeah, so that was the thing. So how would a movie work? So let's say I have my my last film on the corner of ego and desire that I shot? Let's say I created an NF T for that, how would that work? Do I need to pull it off all the other platforms? Or is it become a piece of art? Maybe I put something special in it that there's only one of and people or people buy if someone buys it is are they buying it on the basis that I might one day explode as a filmmaker and the value of that goes up? So like if I would have bought the following Chris Nolan's first film, his independent film as an F t, that would that and I own the NF T of the following that I would imagine would be extremely valuable as as a piece of art, because it be like, Oh, my God, they own the work. But how would How would that work in a distribution way? Do I need to pull it off everywhere? How does that work? Well,
Torsten Hoffmann 32:55
let me slip into a slight detour on the answer there. So I think that the thing that will be more relevant for us filmmakers relatively soon, is to use this technology as sort of like a royalty system. So let's say instead of doing a Kickstarter where people give you 10 bucks, but the filmmaker keeps all the rights to themselves. And you could imagine that people buy shares in your film, just like they buy shares and testament, right. And then suddenly, there's, let's say, 1000 people, on your investments, right? And then whatever that Phil makes, it's all recorded and then paid out in real time to your 1000 investors. So I think that as a crowdfunding mechanism, we will see this this happening. That's not an NF T, per se. But but that is, that is something I think, maybe the easier to understand right?
Alex Ferrari 33:44
Now, separate there for a second. So okay, so I've made my movie, I've crowdfunded it through through 1000 people. Now, how am I generating the revenue that's not off of Amazon views like that? Is that people buying that movie? How is how is the money being generated?
Torsten Hoffmann 34:01
So I think, I don't know in the past year or maybe two years, I've probably seen a dozen platforms, usually based in Los Angeles, who kind of do this as a service for filmmakers. They say, Okay, put put your film here, we monetize and then pay you out or pay however many investors you have, in whatever share you have. It's sort of similar to what musicians have done for the longest time, right that the songwriter gets X X percent, and that's collecting societies and this and that, and I think for the movie industry will soon see this. But this has nothing to do with an NF t NF t. So request was kind of kind of different. So NF T is basically you sell the ownership, kind of like to one person to your film, and the idea is if your film becomes a global viral hit, and he talks about it, the value of it goes up right so so that's why there's people because he's a celebrity people think well, his notoriety and his virality and his being famous is just going to increase increase. So that's why his body of work and including that one will increase. So it's kind of like a speculative buy on this thing. And what there's like is this saying in this credit economy that says, well, we're starting to monetize memes. So maybe it's a tweet, maybe it's an idea, maybe, maybe it's a, it's a song, and you can now make money with it,
Alex Ferrari 35:26
you can sell it, it's insane. That's insane. So if I made my movie, and I sold it to you, so your your, you buy my movies, NFT for $5,000, let's just say, Now, you own the rights to that movie, and you could do whatever you want with it, or you just own the right to the NFT. And I can still continue to sell it and do other things with it.
Torsten Hoffmann 35:51
And this is where, you know, you shouldn't buy all the BS that the industry because what do you actually own right, especially when it comes to painting, like the painting is something physical, and you only have like this digital receipt that you also so you have to be very careful. And that's why I say I don't think this is quite ready, especially for filmmakers. So these marketplaces are starting to get real traction for art for artworks. Also just a piece of you know, the digital poster, or maybe some some GIF, right. But for film, this doesn't really exist yet. Plus, we also need platforms that we trust, because if you sell me an NFT, on your on your website, and then you go to two different blockchain and he had here, I mean, I wouldn't trust that process yet, but maybe in one or two years, and that's going to be much more mature as an industry.
Alex Ferrari 36:37
Got it. Okay. But so in theory, in theory, let's say that we we create, we create an NFT, for my film on the corner vehicle and desire, there's going to be a physical representation of that NFT, because I've seen physical representations of it for some of the more higher end art, where they actually send you a package and there's like a digital, like, a little like an iPad, I guess, or something like that, that they give you it's you feel like you own something. And it's not just a digital thing. Like when you split that guy who spent $69.7 million for that insane NFT there is value and I saw what the art the art was, and the guy had been doing it for 13 years, and it's a collage of all his art, like I get, I get it, I don't know if it's worth $70 million, but I get it's not it's not a tweet, that was silver. It's not a banana taped on the wall. Kind of artwork. So let's say we figure out a way to basically give an iPhone that plays my movie in a very special bulletproof sealed case that I shipped to you because you've paid $5,000 for it. And you now own The only NFT of that film. Now my move just like Van Gogh's work, or just like other artists, there's multiple copies of it, there's and there and it's everywhere. It's not like you're the only one, you have the original, but you don't have all the copies that are being sold all over the world. So the only two questions I have for you then is one, you have the original. So you have the bragging rights to say, I have the only NFT of this film. And by the way, Alex just won an Oscar for his latest movie, cry, shooting for the mob, and his latest louver shooting film, he just won an Oscar for it. How Much Does somebody want to pay me for on the corner, he goes out and now you go put it back on the marketplace. And you sell that for a million dollars, let's say. And at that million dollars, I get 10% of that billion dollars as the original artist automatically, and you get 900,000. And now the new art the new owner has that piece of art, which is the film can I I guess I guess I can because if I'm selling you my art, I'm not selling you the copyright to the art I'm selling you the print the the limited edition version of it. It's It's its own product that cannot be replicated. And there is no other NFT. So there is scarcity in it. So like if it is a piece of art, like that guy sold the seven, the 69 whatever the $70 million. I assume that there's versions of all of that art that he sold all of it because
Torsten Hoffmann 39:24
Yeah, because that would make it more valuable right the more this piece of artists in virtual reality universes and and your newspapers, the more it gets talked about, just like with the big Picasso paintings or whatever, the more valuable the more famous and it gets, right. I mean, I think there's no doubt about it. But what you just mentioned Actually, I should have mentioned myself, so thanks for that. The key one of the key inventions is not that this digital thing is suddenly worth something because it's a unique, more fungible token. invention has also value as the original creator in that smart contract. Can all be compensated, because in the traditional art world, right, so that artists sells it for $1,000 to the art gallery, and the art gallery makes a million bucks, but the original artists will never see any of that million. But but but with this digitized kind of proof of chain chain chain of title, you can always get a kickback of 10%, which makes you and a lot of other creators join these marketplaces. Right? And then the community of investors comes along because it's suddenly it's a thing so so I guess what I'm saying here is this with these emerging things, is not like one one silver bullet. It doesn't happen overnight. But look at fortnight fortnight is a multi billion dollar economy, right? People buy thoughts or capes or whatever on fortnight's and Bitcoin and other digital good, right that maybe 100 million people all over the world now own, and it's worth a trillion dollars. So it is it's not just one thing, the whole puzzle piece must must fit together.
Alex Ferrari 40:54
There is a place for independent film, there is a place for film somewhere in this ecosystem in this economy. It there's still I don't think there is I think you're right, we're still a few years away. I think it's going to take a minute to get there. But I think there is something there that look, I've been saying it from the top of the of the mountain for a while now. Our the system is broken, the distribution system is broken for filmmakers, and for artists in general. And there has to be some sort of change. And I think that blockchain Bitcoin, that technology is the future, there's no doubt about it, just just no doubt about that. It's going to be the future. What that future is, though, is going to be the question, who's going to who's going to crack that nut, because that's going to take a minute to crack and and there's people working on it as we're speaking right now. But once it's cracked, it could really change the game for for us as independent artists, because right now, he's like, you just said you're getting kicked off of Amazon and you were, you were being insulted with one penny per hour of viewing it was an insult. I mean, if they could pay you fractions of a penny they would have. So even at that point, they're like, yeah, you're still not good enough and still not going to be there. So to have this ability to be able to be paid every time the art gets sold again and again and again, in perpetuity, in perpetuity. This is all going to constantly be coming in it sounds very utopia. As for artists I mean it sounds extremely utopia like but
Torsten Hoffmann 42:31
yeah he maybe cryptopia
Alex Ferrari 42:33
maybe maybe even a cryptopia sir if you're if I may take a very popular films named title. But no, I think what you're I think you are doing great great stuff with your films and what you're thinking of. I'm assuming there's an NF t movie coming out soon if not you should be working on it right now.
Torsten Hoffmann 42:53
So you need to provide me with some drama so either you will become the first independent billionaire independent filmmaker billionaire all you lose your whole empire with some sort of hack
Alex Ferrari 43:06
and that's the thing and that's a way for people listening who are not really familiar with blockchain there is no way to hack this to haven't there hasn't been a hack for this yet is there there is no way to there's it is as secure as anything that's ever been invented purely because it's so transparent, right?
Torsten Hoffmann 43:25
Yes, it's so the the big blockchains like Bitcoin and aetherium are virtually unhackable for sure. Otherwise, somebody would take this trillion dollar value immediately out so that's impossible. However, I mean, to be careful your you can lose your your private keys, or you can transfer to a third party, right? You trust it to Bitcoin bank to these cryptocurrency exchanges, who of course can be hacked. So so it's always a little bit tricky. That's part of my story in my film, so so we are kind of getting rid of middleman the banks and the governments but we're creating other like dependencies, like new elites, crypto elites, right, that we have to trust on so and there's always human nature and greed, you know, all these all these kinds of elements that make the film
Alex Ferrari 44:09
right now if you if you purchase a Bitcoin, it needs to stay in a Bitcoin bank, it can't It can't just live in a in an account, like, how does that work?
Torsten Hoffmann 44:18
Yeah, good question. So So you go to a central service like blockchain.com or coinbase.com in America, but the the common practice among people who are really into this technology and movement is to then store it, just by yourself. So literally, you can just basically remember your your past quote unquote, code, which is 12 security words, or you write down your, you know, private, private key, and do not rely on a third party. So that's the whole point of it. But most people don't do that. Most people keep it on exchange and those exchanges can be act
Alex Ferrari 44:56
a god and so that's the problem. So and that's where that guy who's got like, 70 million 100 mil whatever, whatever ridiculous amount that he because he started off early on, he lost his number and he lost the hard drive that had that key and can't get out. So he literally has it's impossible for him to get that back. He can't call anybody, there's no, there's no support number. So there is that there are those risks involved? Like Imagine if you had $100 million worth of gold in a vault that can never be opened? is essentially what he's got?
Torsten Hoffmann 45:32
Sure. But I mean, look, if you try to tell me that gold is better, you know, it seems like the people that try to leave Venezuela with with lost savings in a few gold coins, they get stopped at the border and the police takes take the gold away, right. And with Bitcoin, you can cross the border with 12 words in your head, right? Whether you're in North Korea, or in America, it's permissions right? So it's always pros and cons.
Alex Ferrari 45:57
It's there's, there's there's pros and cons with all of it. And also like, you know, you can walk into it, you could basically go anywhere in the world right now with a gold coin and get into cash, because it's gold, if they can prove it's gold, gold is accepted pretty much everywhere on the planet. Bitcoin isn't just yet. So there's pros and cons for all but you're right, like, how are you going to walk out with, let's say $60 million. With a gold you're not walking out. You're not walking out with it unless gold skyrockets to $100,000 an ounce, you're not walking out with that much gold. But you can walk out with that with goodwill.
Torsten Hoffmann 46:36
And look, the other element here. That's why it's big, becoming bigger and bigger. Right? It's the the idea that all the governments including the Fed in America are printing trillions and trillions of dollars and look, whether you're a fan of wars or social security or COVID really funny, no matter your politics, there's just you know, the the chart of money supply is just going like exponentially up. Right? And in that environment, the value proposition of a very finite amount of Bitcoin that actually gets less and less every year is the appeal. That's why it has become sort of like a digital gold. Potentially. Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 47:11
yeah. And there's mining right now there's people mining as we speak, trying to find the other Bitcoin out there. And in there's, there's, like I saw, I mean, I've saw your documentary, I've seen so many others, that there's farms, there's like mining farms, that is just use an obscene amount of power, just to just constantly hack, hack, hack until they find a hack. But you know, mind mind, mind, too, they get a Bitcoin, and they get so many bitcoins a day. But if you get three bitcoins a day, that's 180 grand in current, a current market, but it costs you maybe 50,000 pounds worth, like, it's obscene, like, you know, the infrastructure, all that stuff. Yeah.
Torsten Hoffmann 47:50
And that's actually a good good note, because common criticism, a valid criticism against Bitcoin, that is a blockchain that runs on this proof of work system. So you need powerful mining computers, which consume a lot of energy. However, you just mentioned, that the trick, the trick is you need to be ultra efficient. The more energy you have, the more computing power, the more of these Bitcoin rewards you're going to find. That means those mining farms are usually located with the price of energy is cheapest, which is wind farms, solar farms, geothermal, so they are basically not not in the city. They're kind of where the power generation is. And the cheapest power generation nowadays is solar in I think, 120 countries in the world. So yes, it is energy intensive, but it is a little bit greener than maybe, you know, the Skype call that we use.
Alex Ferrari 48:39
Oh, it's and it's also probably greener than mining for gold. That's for sure. Yeah. I mean, mining for gold has become so so difficult and so, so expensive, and just hurting me because I have to go dig deeper, deeper, deeper, deeper, deeper to find it. So it's it's a fascinating conversation. I think we've gotten a little bit off topic, but I think we're but but this is this was a really good conversation. There was one thing I wanted to ask you, there was another movie you did. And we talked a little bit about this before we got on called marketing the Messiah that you did as a production. And you were telling me that that didn't that didn't really find its its home yet. Can you talk a little bit about that, if you don't mind?
Torsten Hoffmann 49:18
Yeah, sure. So marketing, the Messiah is a film that I reached out to a podcast, a history podcaster. And he has a good network and a good platform for history nerds, I would say. And so he made this film as a director and writer, his first film, and I was the producer on the background, a background, and I had actually high hopes for the distribution of it. Because I knew it's a it's a topic that might be interesting to people who want to know about the real story of the first couple of years of Jesus's kind of work before you know the whole religion was built around it. But for some reason, I mean, look up, it's always hard to kind of understand it completely. But the film was too long for TV. I mentioned that earlier with with cryptopia. Also, maybe too controversial for for American audience especially. So we have lots of 10 nine stars on IMDB, but also quite a few zero and one star. So maybe maybe that also hurts the distribution. And so what we're doing now is Avon, so we are on IMDB TV, we're doing a little bit of Amazon and now YouTube. That's that's the way to go for this one.
Alex Ferrari 50:27
Right and, and the thing is, when I saw the trailer for it, I was like, I first of all, I'm fascinated, I can't wait to watch it. But because I'm into that kind of stuff, I'm like, I love marketing. And I'm like, arguably, Jesus is one of the best marketed you know, people in history. I mean, you can't argue mean literally, when the Vatican is hiring Matt, Michelangelo to paint? You know, I mean that that was the marketing of its day. So I was fascinated with it. But when I saw it of the Who the hell's the audience for this? Because people who are believers and follow Christianity are not going to probably want to see it maybe if you will, but not a lot. And then who is the audience? I think that's where you kind of fell into that, like, Who? Who are we targeting here? It's a little bit, it's not as easy as cryptopia, which is like, okay, now, here's my audience. Here's the thing that it's done. Where this is about.
Torsten Hoffmann 51:22
Yeah, at the same time, I mean, it's, it's so tempting to, to, like make these assumptions or like, analyze it after the fact. But I mean, I just recently rewatched searching for sugar man, right? This totally unknown 60 singer. Nobody has heard of a fantastic story. Fantastic Film won the Oscar. But who would have thought that before you make us who is the audience for this? Right? It's three people in South Africa. Right? And the biggest hit of the of the year? So it is a little bit tricky. That one, but yeah,
Alex Ferrari 51:55
it but that's, I think the thing that caught it's just a comeback. It's like a comeback story. It's it's rocky Yeah, with with a musician, you know, and the whole search in the hunt. And it's like, oh, my God and all that. It's just such a such a brilliant if you haven't guys haven't seen searching for sugar, man, please do so. But But you're right, though, it could have just fallen flat on its face. And, you know, it could have been huge in South Africa where he was huge. And that's essentially it. So you really don't know. But I think something like we're topia is so specific, and you really understand who that audience is. And if there's, I'm going to bet better than not that it's going to reach an audience because that audience is very hot right now. It's very interested. It's kind of like if you were, if you did an audience as you did a documentary on compuserve and the future of AOL, like that probably wouldn't, wouldn't hit really well today. It might have hit well, years ago, but it wouldn't hit well today. So anyway, um, I appreciate appreciate you coming on the show. Let me ask you a few questions. I asked everybody. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?
Torsten Hoffmann 53:01
Yeah, just start start with something small start on tik tok start on Instagram or YouTube. That's the nice thing about our our age that you don't really need much budget or much skill, so to speak, there's so much available for free.
Alex Ferrari 53:14
What lesson took you the longest to learn in the film business or in life?
Torsten Hoffmann 53:23
I'm going to give a different answer here I am on like a counter intuitive one, my partner Michael told me about cryptopia that don't be afraid to put your personality in the film and on the film. So is kind of the journey of me asking these people controversial questions about you know, my own confusion, my own excitement. And I became, you know, the host of the film, which was never the idea originally, but I think it was a good decision. It helped the film and it helped my profile right and and hopefully will build my platform later. So I think that one took me a long time to learn.
Alex Ferrari 54:04
Yeah, put it that's the only secret sauce you have brother is you like that you are the NFT of of yourself. Like there is no you are non fungible, you are non fungible, there is no other you in the world. So that's what as artists, that's the only currency we have in our art is to put ourselves into it, and express who we are, because
Torsten Hoffmann 54:26
that's what what Americans do so much better than the rest of the world are much better at self promotion. And I wasn't perkara it was for me it was the right decision. And I assume for many independent filmmakers it will be and if you look at those big Netflix deals nowadays, it Konya not just sell like a $30 million documentary to Netflix or something. I mean, this is all about like big egos big personalities, but the big platform and and yeah, you have to be someone to get those kind of big deals, right.
Alex Ferrari 54:53
Yeah, I haven't gotten mine yet. But I'm I'm hoping for my $30 million deal with Netflix. It's coming soon. It's coming soon. And lastly, a one are three of your favorite films of all time?
Torsten Hoffmann 55:03
I'm gonna with matrix I'm going to go with inside job, Bob the financial crisis and you know, just something Star Trek, something like positive sci fi kind of, you know, like everything is good humanity's striving towards a better future.
Alex Ferrari 55:22
I think I think the combination of matrix and inside job is a perfect, perfect utopia origin story. It's really really great. Torsten, thank you so much for being on the show, man. It's been a pleasure having you and I look forward to seeing your next few next films and what's up what's going to happen to our whole business with this technology. So I appreciate you shining some light on it man. Thank you so much.
Torsten Hoffmann 55:46
Thanks, pleasure watching you work and you grow and we'll be in touch maybe next year and talk about NFT's or whatever
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- Torsten Hoffmann – IMDB
- Torsten Hoffmann – Youtube channel
- Torsten Hoffmann – LinkedIn
- Crytopia Film – Website
- Watch: Cryptopia: Bitcoin, And The Future Of The Internet – Amazon
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