Camila Russo Discusses 'The Infinite Machine' And Its Upcoming Movie Adaptation

Hannah Scherwatzky / ONE37pm / Camila Russo

In conversation with ONE37pm, acclaimed journalist, author and founder Camila Russo opens up about her role as an executive producer on the 'Infinite Machine' movie, talks heroes and challengers, and reveals her inclusive message for Pope Francis.

As mainstream society and popular culture begins to truly immerse itself into the perplexing and lucrative world of Web3 and NFTs, traditional industry moguls have sought expertise in their onboarding from thought-leaders native to the space. 

Few others support this transition better than Camila Russo, self-titled Chiefess of The Defiant — a leading publication centered around the decentralized finance (DeFi) industry — and critically acclaimed author of the ‘The Infinite Machine: How an Army of Crypto-hackers Is Building the Next Internet with Ethereum’.

Camila Russo

Russo and the Beginnings of 'Infinite Machine'

Born in Chile, and having spent over a decade working as a journalist for El Mercurio and Bloomberg across Buenos Aires, New York and Madrid, Russo traverses the cryptocurrency landscape with sincerity and an admirable intent to promote diversity, inclusion and equal opportunities. 

Polite and candid in character, her spirit is perhaps most quaintly summarized by her creation of the phrase, "We all gonna make a movie (WAGMAM) Ethereans!"  

Recounting her initial affiliation to the story of Ethereum and Vitalik Buterin, Russo began the conversation by sharing her favorite moment from the book writing process.

“My favorite part about writing the book was all the interviews I got to do - speaking firsthand to Vitalik, the other Ethereum co-founders, and also the community at large. It was very fun to follow the Ethereum crowd around their hackathons and conferences, and very much immerse myself in that community.” 

In the spring of 2018 when Russo began research for the project, there were already a number of bestselling books on the shelf documenting the successes of Bitcoin — 'Digital Gold' by Nathaniel Popper and 'Cryptocurrency' by Abraham K. White come to mind — but nothing inherently focused on Ethereum. 

“I was looking for the most important story to tell, that hadn't been written yet”, Russo said. “And for me, it was clear that it was Ethereum.” 

‘The Infinite Machine: How an Army of Crypto-hackers Is Building the Next Internet with Ethereum’ was published in July 2020, and received generous acclaim within the industry for its revelatory account of Ethereum’s genesis and maturation.

The Book's Progression To Feature Film

In signing a book deal with Harper Collins, Russo revealed that she retained full intellectual property rights to pursue the work's progression into a feature film. And in April this year, exercised such rights by selling to Versus Entertainment, who subsequently signed an agreement with Ridley Scott’s Scott Free to co-produce the movie.

Russo is the Executive Producer for the film, giving her creative license to oversee and propose ideas for the script and production process. The funds for the film will be raised from through its accompanying NFT collection.

“I've been involved in the production side of the movie, which is not really common for authors […] so at least that gives me a bit more influence on what happens in the film. Shyam [Madiraju] is working on writing the script, and I will have an opportunity to actually read it and provide feedback.”

Screenwriters are often highly regarded for taking a large period of time, such as a World War, and choosing to portray individual stories or battles whose values and emotions encapsulate the entire experience. In researching the chronology of Ethereum, Russo identified whether she encountered any specific events that equally epitomized its history.

“I think one interesting narrative arc that reflects Ethereum’s values well was the whole tension between the founders that wanted Ethereum to be a non-profit foundation, versus the founders that wanted Ethereum to be a for-profit company. Of course, Vitalik ended up making that call and decided that Ethereum would be a non-profit foundation.

And I think that's very much at the core of Ethereum’s values and ethos - this open protocol that is flexible and that anyone can come and build on […] That moment really defined Ethereum's history and future, so I think that that's going to be a very key narrative arc.” 

In the 2010 biopic 'The Social Network,' screenwriter Aaron Sorkin adapted Ben Mezrich’s book 'The Accidental Billionaires' to depict Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss as antagonistic characters in the feud for intellectual property rights of Facebook. 

Acknowledging the Greek dramatism of casting heroes against villains, Russo answered the question of whether those individuals who initially supported a profit model for Ethereum - Charles Hoskinson and Amir Chetrit, among others - could be portrayed as adversary characters in the film, similar to that of the Winklevoss brothers in 'The Social Network.'

It’s all pretty much conjecture on my part because I haven't seen the script, so I'm not sure of what direction the writer is going to take. But, you know, just knowing how movies are usually structured, they do kind of have a hero and an antagonist.

- Camila Russo

"So I'd imagine, even in movies where you do have just one central figure, you do need someone else on the other side to provide some sort of counterweight or challenge to the hero that they need to overcome.” 

Russo was politely reluctant to characterize the profit clan as villains— more comfortable with the term ’challenger’. She did though assess that 'The Social Network' is a fair comparison to the 'Infinite Machine' because of their dual glorification of the monumental shifts in innovation, economic fortunes, and pursuit of entrepreneurialism - in this case with Vitalik Buterin. 

Goals for 'Infinite Machine'

Speaking on her expectations for the 'Infinite Machine' film’s success and cultural impact, she stated: 

“My main goal would be for the 'Infinite Machine' movie to be analogous to the Social Network in what that was for the social media Web2 era. I really hope that it becomes that for web3 and crypto. I think it encapsulates the movement, and kind of brings it to life […] a dramatized but true story”, she concluded. 

At the time of The Social Network’s release in Oct 2010, Facebook was a blossoming network of 608 million monthly active users. In comparison, Ethereum’s highest figure came in May 2020 at 20.43 million, down to 14.9 million as of last month. 

With these statistics in mind, and with the awareness that this space has only just ascended from its nascent foundations, when the film is released in circa 2024, Russo predicted whether Ethereum could have as much cultural significance and societal impact as Facebook did during its era. 

That's a great question. I think it's very, very hard to answer [...] I hope so, I think it’d be amazing.” 

She reflected upon the exponential growth in user numbers and cultural attention throughout the last market cycle, especially with the emergence of NFTs and adoption of wallets such as MetaMask, before remarking:

“I think if we get a new wave of interest in the next two years, there's a chance that by the time the movie is out, crypto, Web3, and Ethereum has a comparable social relevance to social media [in 2010]."

Meeting Pope Francis

Two weeks ago, Russo was invited to the Pontifical Urbaniana University in the Vatican City to commemorate the launch of Scholas Occurrentes — an international non-profit established by Pope Francis with a focus on enhancing female education across emerging nations. 

Acting as an advisor to the Scholas NFT project, in collaboration with Democracy Earth and the Universal Basic Income token, Russo also gifted Pope Francis with a inscripted copy of her book. 

Expressing her honour and gratitude for the opportunity of attendance, she recalled a small portion of her conversation: 

“I said that I believe that crypto can be a tool for good and that it's in-line with your message of openness and inclusivity. I also told him I'm from Chile and that I lived in Argentina where he's from [...] and then I showed him the inscription and he smiled and thanked me.” 

Culminating the interview by discussing The Defiant celebrating its third anniversary this month, Russo shared that one-year’s progress has been made on the development of an investor-focused DeFi data platform, intended to complement the publications content. 

“The vision for The Defiant going forward is that we’re going from a Web2 media company to Web3 native information platform”, she said, before continuing onto affirm that “the second step will be to start to decentralize parts of The Defiant and use Web3 tools as part of the organization itself.”

Did you like this article?
Thumbs Up
Thumbs Down