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The Underground Sistine Chapel: The world’s first crypto-funded film

An upcoming documentary is breaking with film industry norms in several areas, particularly funding. Backed by a cryptocurrency sponsorship, The Underground Sistine Chapel follows French street artist Pascal ‘PBoy’ Boyart as he works to transform an abandoned foundry in a poor neighbourhood outside Paris into what he calls ‘a modern Sistine Chapel’. As the film approaches its release date, it is supplementing funding by selling NFTs related to the film and to PBoy’s ambitious project, including digital scene cards, directors cuts, and early access tickets to the film. 

The subject of the film, PBoy is familiar with the idea of playing with artistic boundaries, and the cryptocurrency sponsorship seems especially fitting. He was the first painter to attach a Bitcoin QR code to his street murals in order to solicit donations without the use of an agent. The documentary is also produced by the self-described first decentralised film production company, Samourai Coop, which is dedicated to, as the film’s press release states, making art “accessible to all, without the interference or barriers created by middlemen and large agencies.”

The documentary itself takes a populist approach as well; it makes the unexpected choice of using a former employee of the foundry’s owner as an introductory tour guide, presenting the foundry itself and the residents of the area before launching into the art project which is the central subject, continuing to include local people and the project’s impact on their lives in the documentary. 

The film will be offered free on select internet communities. Samourai Coop founder and director, Antoine Breuil, hopes this approach to filmmaking will become more common in the future. He comments: “We have a huge panel of possibilities to advance towards bigger and bigger productions, with only the support of our communities. It’s really mind-blowing and inspires us a lot, and we’re energised to keep producing wild films with this mindset.”

Breuil is also co-director of the film, with fellow novice director Yohann Grignou. The collection of Underground Sistine Chapel NFTs continues to be offered on Minty.Art in anticipation of the film’s release on June 27 on YouTube.