CineVino sat down at The Roxy Hotel in New York City with filmmaker Mitzi Peirone, who is the director and writer of the feature film Braid. The film premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival on Sunday April 22, as part of the Tribeca Midnight section. Braid stars Madeline Brewer, Imogen Waterhouse, and Sarah Hay in a twisted story that combines existentialism with incredible imagery from Mitzi and her cinematographer Todd Banhazl.
Braid stands as quite an accomplishment for Mitzi, as a first time filmmaker. Mitzi is the first filmmaker to fully finance a film with cryptocurrency. In our interview with Mitzi, she shares with us the road to developing her film and how she came to cryptocurrency as a source of financing.
The Seed Idea of Braid and Troubles With Financing
Mitzi Peirone: I had the story for the movie figured out. I had this script and we were in the 5th draft of the 8th draft total story, before we started shooting, so it was basically done. At that point being a first time filmmaker, being without connections in Hollywood or really, anywhere, I was facing the same issues that most independent filmmakers face with funding or financing.
Movies are extremely expensive and they are a very, very risky investment. I thought this movie was going to be too expensive to be funded with a regular crowdfunding platform like indie-go-go or Kickstarter because, the issue with these platforms is, they are really great platforms, yet they are essentially flawed in offering a return for the investors. They are not actually investors, they are donors. It’s a donation based business model that only rewards you with thank you’s, signed t-shirts and DVD’s and that is all great but I knew I would be able to raise 5-10 k by friends and family and I knew that would not be enough.
On the other hand, I was facing issues with bigger production companies that were happy to fund the movie but wanted be to dumb down the script, make it more commercial, simplifying it, and even sexualizing it at times, which was really going against everything I wanted these female characters to be and I didn’t want to compromise on the vision of the movie, but I needed the money.
Mitzi Meets Joe Lubin In Woodstock
So, I was stuck in this limbo and I went to this music festival in Woodstock in 2015, by myself. It was one of those I’ve gotta go situations, I felt I had to be there and I went there by myself and as I was wandering about the festival grounds and chasing the music and just enjoying myself and just meditating and connecting with my sense and the universe and what not, I met Joe and he told me about cryptocurrency, he told me about the blockchain, he told me about ICO’s and it blew my mind and I was like, “that is really cool, I wrote a movie” I was just humbled by his mind and then he started explaining in-depth what it really meant, that cryptocurrency wasn’t about money, it wasn’t about technology, it was about freedom. It was about decentralization. It was about democracy. Now it’s a huge buzz and everyone wants cryptocurrency because everyone loves money but it’s bigger then that. Its the idea that we can finance independent artists. Because if we can decentralize the economy we can democratize the arts. And instead of seeing the sequel of a prequel of something you’ve already seen a million times or whatever blockbuster, Hollywood movie and going to the movie theater and just feeling washed over by this sense that I have already lived this and this is not awakening me, it’s numbing me, you can truly empower change-makers, you can empower people with crazy, wild, new stories. The problem is, we could be missing out on the next Mozart because he doesn’t have the money to put into his art and that is terrifying.
I understand that Hollywood is a business, it is an industry and it works off of an algorithm of storytelling that they know is powerful and that is totally fine but independent filmmakers need to be able to access funds to make their stories come true.