Zcash Mini-Documentary & Educational Series

Long-form Proposal

Click here for long-form, detailed proposal.

Description of Problem or Opportunity

The general public does not know about Zcash, zero-knowledge proofs, the Zcash community, or how Zcash and its underlying technology applies to their lives. Beyond the problem of a lack of awareness, there is a steep learning curve for those that are interested in educating themselves about Zcash, which limits Zcash’s goal of being accessible to all. Finally, although information and discussion regarding Zcash development has a high level of transparency on the forums, this is not a translatable or approachable form of media for the wider public and casual Zcash users.

Proposed Solution

To overcome the lack of awareness about Zcash, help new and existing users better understand Zcash current and future uses, and increase transparency in the Zcash development process, we propose a multi-tiered informational video campaign.

Tier 0: A single 10-15 minute documentary that serves to introduce the wider public to Zcash. We aim to incorporate Masterclass level quality interviews (with prominent Zcash community members) with stylized minimalistic animation to inform and excite the general public about Zcash.

Tier 1: An educational series 6 videos in length (~10 min. per video) that focuses on various aspects of Zcash such as internet privacy, blockchain, zero-knowledge proofs, governance, etc. In the format of Nerdwriter1’s content, these videos aim to deep dive into interesting topics.

Tier 2 and 3: To be discussed if Tier 0/1 completed and well-received. Please see long-form proposal.

Solution Format

mp4 files

Technical approach

We are a top-to-bottom production house (development, production, and post-production), creating cinema quality content at a handheld price. We believe storytelling is the most powerful way to motivate change, so we strive to be a part of the community that inspires a sustainable future and more socially conscious society.

How big of a problem would it be to not solve this problem?

We believe that without easily understandable introductions to Zcash, it may not reach large scale adoption.

Execution risks

An important execution risk is the dependency on interviewees to agree to be interviewed to obtain enough video content for the different Tiers of our campaign.

Unintended Consequences Downsides

By putting different people front and center in our videos (especially Tier 0 and 1), we risk unintended downsides if anyone featured were to have something extremely negative in their history or future come to light.

Evaluation plan

We will solicit feedback from interested community members (e.g., ZOMG board) during the scripting and post-production phases of the different Tiers to help evaluate and improve our work. Once finalized videos are distributed, evaluation metrics include: community feedback, engagement numbers for posted videos (i.e., likes, shares, views), etc.

Schedule and Milestones

Month 1

-Development for Tier 0 & 1 videos.

Month 2

-Production for Tier 0 & 1 videos.

Month 3

-Post-production for Tier 0 video

Month 4-6

-Post-production for Tier 1 videos

…and beyond

-Submit proposal for Tier 2/3 videos

Budget and Payout Timeline

As established by the various film production unions, labor works on a 10-hour-day rate and pay typically ranges from ~$500-3,000/day for each laborer depending on role and experience. As believers in ZEC, our team have all agreed to work for the minimum $500/day for all laborers (except animation at $700/day) - discounted prices are noted on quotes below. Specific payouts are outlined in the Milestones section.

Tier 0 - Please see proposal on Zfnd website (hyperlink limit reached)

Tier 1 - Please see proposal on Zfnd website (hyperlink limit reached)

Applicant background

37 Laines - Production Company

37 Laines is an award winning film production company run by Natasha Mynhier and Jeff Hammerton. Out of our offices in Santa Monica, CA and Denver, CO, 37 Laines produces high quality creative work for clients across the US, including branded content, commercials, short films, music videos, digital content, web-series, live events, and documentaries.

David Boyer - Project organizer, Writer

David is a scientist currently studying neurodegenerative diseases at UCLA, where he recently received his PhD. He has experience in managing technically demanding projects involving multiple interdisciplinary partners, as well as coordinating and executing long-term research grants. David has co-authored 20+ academic articles and is practiced in relaying detailed scientific information to general audiences.

Note to Community Forum:

Hi everyone, this is our first foray into proposing to create something for Zcash (or a cryptocurrency in general for that matter). We are very glad to have the opportunity to apply our creative energy to a movement as transformative as Zcash. The idea for this project started when listening to the ZOMG panel at Zcon2Lite and hearing @ml_sudo emphasize the need for media to explore the concepts behind why Zcash exists (similarly, we saw that Zcash-related media was called out in the Whitepaper).

We debated what form that media should take by considering what would be most freely accessible and impactful at the present moment and came up with the format we propose here. We agree with @ml_sudo that something of the magnitude of Inconvenient Truth, Game Changers, or The Social Dilemma (documentaries that stirred awareness in the public about an important topic) will be a helpful mission in the long term to stir enthusiasm. However, we believe what we are proposing will allow feature-quality content to be made and freely released as soon as possible and also serve as a stepping stone to the creation of feature-length documentaries by acting as both pitch and source materials.

We structured our proposal to be incremental in its Milestones and funding so to build trust with the community over the course of ~6 months. We also tried to build a layered proposal whereby footage from different Tiers can be reused for multiple styles of videos, thereby getting the most mileage out of any work that might get funded. And as mentioned above, the videos we propose to make here can be used as a fundraising mechanism for potential future projects.

Lastly, for transparency’s sake, the two forum accounts associated with this proposal are this one and @David_Heisenberg. Look forward to hearing from people what you think!

P.S. Some of the links are missing from our post since we were only able to post two links as new users. Please see proposal on Zfnd website (linked at top).

6 Likes

Wow, this is fantastic; and the timing might just be perfect as Zcash will undergo a major transformation later this year with the upgrade to Halo 2. Maybe the crew could document the journey.

4 Likes

I’m thrilled to see a quality proposal by a top-to-bottom production house. There are multiple anti-Zcash narratives in the social media spaces of crypto-land that dissuade new users/investors from looking at the project. I hope that this project can change the narrative on some of these.

One of the biggest narratives that is highly pervasive, even by people who are paid to research and analyze crypto projects, is that “Unless there is end to end encryption here, z to z address, then there really is not any privacy at all”. Zcash Price Analysis - 30th June 2021 - YouTube

I see this narrative and iterations of it repeatedly on social media. I always counter this narrative with the fact that it has been previously stated that if you store funds in and send money from a shielded address then you can retain the privacy of your own wallet and maintain a private identity if you do not send funds to a KYC/AML transparent address (i.e. donating to Signal like here: https://twitter.com/allyourbank/status/1410348033888317441?s=20

I don’t think we need to pointedly respond to this instance/outlet/analyst, but I would love to see effort given to explaining how privacy can be retained in a partially shielded TX if one needs/wants to do so.

If anyone cares to watch the same Youtube video above there are multiple other issues I have with it. Timestamps and my notes/disagreements with it are below:

2:06 - “It’s privacy capable. You have to jump through some hoops.” If you consider logging in to your mobile app store and downloading a mobile app “jumping through hoops” then what are you even doing here??

2:13 - 3:22 - He talks about the state of funding in the environment which I think is not completely accurate. My take is the biggest slice of it is going to community elected grant committee known as Zcash Open Major Grants (8%). The next chunk of 7% goes to the non-profit parent of the Electric Coin Company, the Bootstrap Project, and then the Bootstrap Project uses that funding to fund the ECC. (Note that ECC was donated to the Bootstrap Project.) Finally, 5% of the 20% distribution goes to the Zcash Foundation. Funding is a significant investment counterpoint for some so I think it’s important to highlight the facts.

4:40 - Talking about this blog post from Chainalysis
“They [Chainalysis] have compliance support for Dash and Zcash. That means the privacy capabilities are basically null and void because they can trace virtually everything on these coins… they go on to state because there’s very little end to end encryption you can’t actually stay private in Zcash” This is false. If you store your funds in and spend from the Zcash shielded pool then your anonymity set is that of hundreds of thousands of prior shielded transactions. Further, Chainalysis does not state that they have any capability to reveal shielded addresses, ledger history of shielded addresses, or transaction values of any fully shielded transactions. They allude to things like being able to track all transparent transactions (obviously), being able to analyze inputs into a shielded pool (because the transparent sending address and transaction value is known), being able to analyze outputs from a shielded pool (because the transparent recipient and the transaction value is known), and being able to analyze transactions of any kind that use non-standard transaction fee amounts (I believe the current standard TX fee amount is 0.00001 ZEC). They demonstrate no evidence to suggest privacy compromise of an individual that stores funds in and spends from a shielded pool. They demonstrate no evidence to suggest the privacy compromise of a shielded address recipient that receives funds via the shielded pool, stores them, and then later spends them. So to say that the privacy capabilities are “null and void” or “they’ve basically cracked it” is disingenuous and misinformed. See also for Zcash privacy set info: Zcash Metrics - Electric Coin Company

7:00 - Points to an old 2018 article from the Zcash Foundation about moving towards privacy by default but makes no mention of recent blog posts about what the ECC and community are doing with regard to unified addresses and auto-shielding which will undoubtedly boost shielded address use. From the ECC blog post: “While all partners are strongly encouraged to support Zcash unified addresses, some may continue to only offer support for Zcash transparent addresses. After the activation of NU5, all stand-alone addresses (transparent, Sapling and Sprout) will be considered legacy addresses. While unified addresses will be completely compatible with some legacy addresses (transparent and Sapling), ECC will prioritize partnerships with exchanges and wallet providers that support UAs and shield Zcash by default.” Unified addresses in Zcash explained - Electric Coin Company
He says “making Zcash a side chain might be the best bet.” Laughable.

Like I said, I don’t think we need to pointedly respond to this instance/outlet/analyst, but this is what the community is getting from analysts that are paid to research crypto projects. We need to be loud and proud about what Zcash is, the improvements that NU5 brings in terms of scalability and efforts to bolster shielded adoption, and be clear about the history of and current sources of funding. I hope that some of these examples can help guide this grant proposal to make content that counters these statements and begin shifting the narrative that weighs us down in social spaces.

4 Likes

Feedback from a Reddit commenter:

As a new comer, I’ve seen a lot of misinformation about zcash especially when you search it on Google or when you read posts on Monero subreddit. I was very discouraged from investing in it until I’ve done more research and found out that zcash is not really that bad at all. I think we need a video that clarifies some of the misconceptions and misinformation.

3 Likes

Here’s another comment from the Redditor about their hesitations with investing in Zcash:

I can think of many examples. First, many Monero investors believe that using the shielded address in zcash will only make you stand out since the majority of zcash transactions are done by transparent addresses. Monero is private by default whereas zcash has optional privacy.
Second, there are some rumors that zcash is closed source.
Third, another rumor is that zcash works closely with governments such as the US, Israeli, and Russian. I am not even joking.
Fourth, another rumor is that zcash foundations get 20 percent of the mining profit.
Fifth, there is also a rumor that only a few Israeli professors are able to understand how zcash algorithm works. So, who knows if they’ve installed a back door? I think they are baseless rumors but those are some of the rumors I’ve heard from Monero investors.

And here’s a discussion that I feel could be better explained to a less-technical audience/captured in an educational video. What is the significance/purpose/what benefits does this bring to Zcash? How do these circuits work at a very basic level (without equations)? etc. Some of the responses were helpful but tweets get lost/forgotten and contain broken dialogue. It’s not the best avenue for education.

Note @yolo_puts comments to Daira’s GitHub reference.

2 Likes

Glad you like it! Bringing the NU5 upgrade and everything that goes along with it into the short documentary would be an awesome touch. It could be something that we weave in throughout the video and then show at the end when the upgrade goes live. Try to portray it as something similar to a Mars rover landing or something. Where all the code just “has to be right” and liken it to changing the engine on a flying plane, etc. All the things that would make a good story for a general audience!

We could work on how to include it during the Milestone 1 phase (writing, planning, pre-production) and get back to the community on what people think.

1 Like

We are so glad you like the proposal. Also, all these things are excellent to keep in mind when writing the Tier 0 and Tier 1 videos. We agree we don’t need to reference the specific rumors and respond to them one by one, but by knowing the general misconceptions that are out there, we can make sure to include the truth about certain things in the videos. The different instances you point out are exactly the types of things we need the community’s feedback for since we are relative newcomers ourselves!

Luckily, there is a whole host of people (most everyone) who have a blank slate when it comes to Zcash. This is the audience we hope to reach most for our Tier 0 video - people’s whose first impression of Zcash (or even cryptocurrencies in general) will be the short documentary. In it, we can provide them high quality information from the people behind Zcash in an entertaining and understandable way. There may be certain people whose minds we can’t change (people with a conflict of interest, such as investors in other privacy coins) but for the new person, like the one you mentioned above from Reddit, we can provide a great introduction to Zcash. Also, the Tier 1 videos could then get into some educational content where we simplify and explain certain fundamentals of Zcash, like the circuit design you mentioned.

And yes, we concur that Twitter is good for fast and quick information, while making a video or writing a story takes time. But well produced stories have staying power and would go a long way in serving as a reference for Zcash in the foreseeable future. Plus they would save so much time for newcomers combing through Reddit threads, tweets, etc. and even more time for people trying to counteract false claims about Zcash.

I completely agree here.

I’m also excited to see an “entertaining” twist applied to learning some of these deep technical characteristics of Zcash :slight_smile: I liked str4d’s slapping the roof analogy and could see some similar entertainment playing out in videos - it’s fun to laugh a little while learning.

Thanks for the response and I’m hopeful that others will chime in with their thoughts and ZOMG will fund this soon!

2 Likes

I’m excited about the quality of video that you’re obviously capable of!

A lot of the value here will be around the narrative creation and writing/story-telling. Do you have favorite examples from your portfolio we should look at for examples along those lines? I looked here, but those that i clicked into (just a few) leaned towards commercials: 37 LAINES - Work

6 Likes

Also, here’s a crazy idea. How about turning this into a pitch for a Netflix series? You have the savvy, we have the stories. Hmm.

Just spit balling, and in my personal capacity.

7 Likes

Hi @ml_sudo!

It’s a good point that much of the work we put on our website are commercials. We’ve made a point of doing lots of commercials over recent years since they are a great way to get fast and diverse experiences. Commercials are also a reliable source of income to maintain our team. However, the careers of both of our founders actually began in documentaries. Natasha won her first project creating a short doc for MD Anderson Cancer Center sharing the details of how their Oncology Expert Advisor would be implemented into patient care. And Jeff Hammerton’s first feature project was as the cinematographer, sound mixer, and producer for the documentary Enormous: The Gorge Story which (after many grueling years in post at Live Nation and doing a year of festival touring) finally came out in theaters this month! We have also produced many free short documentaries as donations to local businesses in the LA community that we support such as Holbox Restaurant. These skills/experiences along with the success of our 30 min fiction short film about a young autistic boy, In A Beat (written/directed by Natasha and shot by Jeff), landed us in meetings with Ridley Scott’s production company and in co-production with Storied Media Group on a feature adventure ski documentary that we are leading the direction on and that will be shot next year.

At this time, we believe we have the writing, directing, producing, and cinematography skills to carry out the different videos in our proposal. We have learned a lot since our first documentaries, and in combination with the fascinating story that Zcash is, we have high hopes for what could be made. And if this counts for anything, we’d love to make the videos about Zcash we proposed (we already have an idea for a working title for the short doc… Future Proof: Building Zcash).

In regard to your second point: with the connections that we have developed through our careers, we think we can absolutely pitch this content to Netflix, HBO, or other streaming services. However, we think that by making the short documentary and educational series we proposed first, we can accomplish two goals at once: (i) the short doc and education series can be made and released without any paywall so that anyone can learn about Zcash, (ii) the footage and videos we make would go a long way in serving as pitch materials for a longer documentary to larger streaming services.

5 Likes

I really like this proposal and the pedigree of the team, will be happy to see this get funded

5 Likes

i really hope it gets funded :love_letter:

3 Likes