This SXSW heist thriller is the “Ocean’s Eleven” of cryptocurrency
This SXSW heist thriller is the “Ocean’s Eleven” of cryptocurrency

The big picture

  • Collider’s Perri Nemiroff sits down with the team behind the scenes
    Cold wallet
    at SXSW 2024
  • Co-writer/director Cutter Hodearn and stars Josh Brenner and Tony Cavalero discuss the true inspirations behind their cryptocurrency heist film.
  • Cold wallet
    presented by
    Ocean’s Eleven
    Redditors’ Steven Soderbergh follows a group of Redditors seeking revenge after losing everything in a cryptocurrency scam.

At SXSW 2024 Cold walletpresented by Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s Eleven), world premiere to audiences in Austin. This heist thriller from a director and co-writer Cutter Hoodies (Fishing without nets) staked its place among bigger titles like Flawless and The Fall Guy with a crypto spin and heart pounding A+ performances from the cast.

Starring Raul Castillo (Cassandro), Melony Diaz (charmed), Tony Cavalero (The righteous gems), and Josh Brenner (Silicon Valley), Hodierne pitches Cold wallet as a “cryptocurrency thriller that follows a group of Redditors. They’re getting revenge on a financial influencer who screwed them over in a cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme.” In today’s always-online world, a theft like this seems like a ripe idea waiting to be plucked from the ether.

While promoting the film at the festival, Hodiern, Brenner, and Cavallero stopped by Collider’s interview studio to chat with our Perry Nemirov about the early stages of development, what exactly is a “cold wallet” and much more.

What is a cryptocurrency heist thriller?

Cryptocurrency can be a nebulous concept, and the term “cold wallet” isn’t everyday jargon for many people, but Hodierne understands that. While crypto rabbit holes can lead to some fascinating, if macabre, stories (more on those later), the filmmaker has an easy way to look at it. “A cryptocurrency exchange is a bank,” he explains, “and a cold storage device is a bit like a mattress. Like keeping your money under your mattress.

So how he and the co-author John Heaby (Fishing without nets) land on a feature film based on this premise? Hodierne says:

The film actually originated as an idea around doxxing.
We were developing a film around doxxing, where someone’s address is released on the internet, sometimes for nefarious reasons. A friend of mine named Justin Staple said, “Why don’t you make it a cryptocurrency thriller?” So John [Hibey] and I developed a script around that premise.
I was pretty into the meme culture around AMC and GameStop and Dogecoin and I was just riding that line between the humor that you would see on these message boards but also the dark reality of what some people are experiencing
. I love when comedy can mix with something dark and mean. It’s kind of my favorite thing.

But are crypto heists realistic?

Tony Cavalero as Dom in a shot from Cold Wallet.
Image by vanishing angle

Maybe a Reservoir dogs-esque thriller often doesn’t play out the same way in real life, but Cold wallet obviously not purely fictional. In searching for their roles, cast members shared some of the more unbelievable — but true — stories they came across. Cavalero shared an anecdote from Lenox, Massachusetts, where they were filming on location, and Brenner informed us that there are “a ton” of shocking stories that, with a little Hollywood magic, could lead a trio of Redditors into a calculated revenge scheme.

Brenner, who is better known for his more comedic roles, shared some of his inspirations when preparing to play the scheming “financial influencer” for the film:

“I watched a lot of documentaries to get my bearings around all this stuff.
We watched

Do not trust anybody [
The Hunt for the Crypto King
] and the Elizabeth Holmes stuff, and frankly, the Fyre Fest documentary.

All these characters who are actually just seekers. There is a new one called
on Netflix. Totally worth the watch. The main character is like an absolute psychopath. He says: “When I was a kid, I knew I just wanted to be a criminal. I always knew I wanted to be a criminal.

He adds that:

“The story that stayed with me is that this guy, they actually did something that happens in the movie where they make all this money under false pretenses for a product that doesn’t actually exist. This guy contacts him, gets a DM from one of their investors saying, “I’m having a problem with my transaction. Can you help me?’ He intends to send his transaction ID, but he sends his username and password to this guy who runs this company and makes literally $100 million off of people. The man says, “I couldn’t help myself. I just logged into his account and transferred all this crap to me. this is like,
you are so heartless that you already get all the money and still say to yourself, “I’ll steal some more.”

“Cold Wallet” is the “Oceans Eleven” of cryptocurrency

Raul Castillo as Billy, sitting in front of a computer and looking concerned in Cold Wallet.
Image by vanishing angle

With a new frontier to exchange funds and people always looking to take advantage, the stage is set for Hodierne’s sophomore year. The heist thriller is a tried and true genre with successes such as Michael Mann‘c HeatSoderbergh Ocean’s Elevenand countless others. Cold wallet is just that, but with a reward that isn’t as tangible. Of this, the director says, “Crypto obviously plays a critical role in this, but the technicalities of crypto are not what the story relies on.” Instead, without shiny gold bars or secure vaults of cash, Castillo, Diaz, Brenner and Cavalero convey the film, stepping into roles that Hodierne says were “slightly new” to each of them.

“The story relies on the great instincts of these actors and all the tension created by the heist genre to begin with. I think it just makes the movie a little fresh and relevant to put it in this world, which is a new, strange currency…
It’s basically a heist movie that’s really fun, and crypto is sort of the MacGuffin, I guess
… These devices are ultimately just a key to access a bag of money. Really, again, it just comes down to, “How do we create all this tension and excitement around their desires and the motivations of the characters?” At the end of the day, we never really see it. These are all digital numbers. So, I guess in that sense,
it relies on the heart of the film and the heart of the characters to make this important, to make this off-screen, unknown digital element have some meaning

Cold wallet has yet to set an official release date, so check out Perri’s full interview in the video at the top of this article for even more on what Soderbergh called “a smart, edgy, off-center take on the vigilante genre.”

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