Director Tom Sands reveals he received ‘sinister’ social media threats

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A UK film company behind a satirical comedy about the creator of Bitcoin received a series of sinister threats from crypto hackers who tried to halt production of the movie.

Decrypted features the kidnap and torture of Bitcoin inventor, Satoshi Nakamoto, by US government agents who want to destroy cryptocurrencies.

Substantial Films, and actor Akie Kotabe who plays Satoshi, were targeted and received a series of threatening and unsettling messages on social media and via the company’s website during the making of the film.

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Trouble: A UK film company behind Decrypted, a satirical comedy about the creator of Bitcoin received a series of sinister threats from crypto hackers (pictured L-R: writer Mick Sands, director Tom Sands and producer Phil Harris)

Trouble: A UK film company behind Decrypted, a satirical comedy about the creator of Bitcoin received a series of sinister threats from crypto hackers (pictured L-R: writer Mick Sands, director Tom Sands and producer Phil Harris)

Director and producer Tom Sands said: ‘As an independent film-maker, it is exceptionally hard to get a film made at the best of times, not least during a pandemic. 

‘Getting these messages a couple of months after we were forced to pause production due to Covid-19 did rattle me and add to my worries.

‘They threatened to close down production unless we told the story in a very specific way, which is completely outrageous, especially as we were trying to make a film that is supportive of the crypto community. 

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Victims: Substantial Films, and actor Akie Kotabe (pictured) who plays Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto, were targeted and received a series of threatening and unsettling messages on social media and via the company’s website

Victims: Substantial Films, and actor Akie Kotabe (pictured) who plays Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto, were targeted and received a series of threatening and unsettling messages on social media and via the company’s website

‘I would never let anyone else prescribe the stories for our films or interfere in the film-making process in any way.’

American actor Akie Kotabe said he was deeply concerned after receiving a series of messages via his Instagram account after it was announced he’d been selected to play Satoshi.

He said: ‘I was shocked and surprised by the messages, and it made me realize what strong opinions are out there regarding crypto.

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Unnerved: 'Getting these messages a couple of months after we were forced to pause production due to Covid-19 did rattle me and add to my worries,' said director Sands (pictured with Akie Kotabe)

Unnerved: ‘Getting these messages a couple of months after we were forced to pause production due to Covid-19 did rattle me and add to my worries,’ said director Sands (pictured with Akie Kotabe)

‘It was clearly a very worrying situation but we discussed this between us and decided to make the film as we wanted to make it.’

One of the messages to Akie read: ‘You better hope I like this f****** movie. It’s illegal for me to say what I’m going to do to you all but I think you understand exactly what I mean.’

Another message sent via the Substantial Films website said: ‘You do not have permission to create or use the likeness of Satoshi Nakamoto. We may be silent but we are in no way out of the picture and will do what it takes to protect our brand.’

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Drama: Decrypted features the kidnap and torture of Bitcoin inventor, Satoshi Nakamoto, by US government agents who want to destroy cryptocurrencies

Drama: Decrypted features the kidnap and torture of Bitcoin inventor, Satoshi Nakamoto, by US government agents who want to destroy cryptocurrencies

The movie, which is released on digital platforms including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV and Google Play, on Monday (1st November) has been well received by the crypto community. 

Decrypted tells the story of the botched kidnap and interrogation of Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor of blockchain and Bitcoin, by a team of NSA (National Security Agency) agents operating from a safe house in Kensington, West London.

The agents are desperate to break blockchain’s cryptographic codes and sabotage the rise of Bitcoin.

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Not happy: 'They threatened to close down production unless we told the story in a very specific way, which is completely outrageous,' added Sands (picured)

Not happy: ‘They threatened to close down production unless we told the story in a very specific way, which is completely outrageous,’ added Sands (picured)

The planned operation falls apart hilariously when the NSA agents, some MI5 agents watching them, and a local resident are all spiked with a truth drug which leads to some profound and amusing discussions about race, gender and sexuality.

Sparks fly when respective prejudices clash leading to a brilliantly unexpected finale.

The film was shot in London and South East England, but was closed down due to the pandemic in March last year with only 70% of the movie completed.

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Shooting resumed in September, and the last scene was shot just before the next lockdown. 

Popular: The movie, which is released on digital platforms including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV and Google Play, on Monday (1st November) has been well received by the crypto community

Popular: The movie, which is released on digital platforms including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV and Google Play, on Monday (1st November) has been well received by the crypto community

Decrypted is the fifth film from father-son writer-director team Mick Sands and Tom Sands, and producer Phil Harris. The team’s previous work includes Rupert, Rupert & Rupert, nominee for Best Comedy at the National Film Awards 2020.

Mick Sands, writer/producer, said: ‘The idea that the US government is very interested in controlling, if not destroying, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies seemed like a new and exciting set-up for a film. 

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‘Since the blockchain is essentially about honesty and transparency, I thought it would be fun to explore those themes through the characters.’

Tom Sands commented: ‘Mick and I discussed the story at an early stage. I wanted to strip it down and have it play out in a claustrophobic environment, where the location acted as a pressure cooker and everything supported the performances of the amazing cast we were working with.’

Phil Harris, producer/editor, added: ‘I really hope the crypto community gets behind this film because it champions cryptocurrency, and promotes honesty and transparency. 

‘I have seen an emerging blockchain revolution within the film industry, which I hope will help disrupt the current outdated, bloated and often dishonest status quo. 

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‘I want us to be a part of this new and transparent movement and will be looking to form partnerships with these emerging blockchain companies.’ 

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