Last week we were presenting updates on The Choice at the Vancouver International Film Festival - VIFF Immersed Volumetric Market. This event was organized together with the Kaleidoscope Fund.
This year's event brought back some of the projects that were pitching at VIFF 2019 so they could share how much progress they did since 2019. We shared our progress too, and it was truly enlightening to realize how much work we have done! Those recent months were truly busy for us, we've been doing amazing progress.
Below you can read a little bit deeper about what has changed and how we've progressed.
In early 2020 Jay W. Moore has joined as, just in time to help us through this very crazy and stressful trip to Austin, Texas. Do you remember? We were supposed to be there for almost 2 weeks and film a whole set of interviews. And then the COVID-19 pandemic started unfolding, and we found ourselves far from home, with the flights being canceled asap, and we had literally 2 days to leave the country. And we still needed to film some interviews... And we did! It was truly awesome, and the two interviews we have captured are extremely powerful, each for very different reasons.
Moving forward - in spring 2020 our team got even bigger, this is when Becca Little and Hannah Estes have joined us to work on the VR app development. I will not dive into the technical details here, let me just tell you: it's a true blessing to have them on board!
In May we received 2 grants from the Kaleidoscope community, winning in the Creative Challenge and the Femme Futures categories. This was amazing! And with that, we received a lot, a lot of wonderful messages from people stating how important The Choice is, and how powerful is what we aim to achieve using the VR technology to enhancing empathy. Thank you!
With these grants, we also got some truly great consultants: Asad J. Malik, Darragh Dandurand, and Paul Mezier. So now with every new edit or some milestone we achieve - we call them and hear their feedback and advice on our next steps. It's truly great to have their expertise.
The next step was... Well, there were a couple of next steps. Tom, Becca, and Hannah have been working on what I call with some umbrella-term: "app dev". Later on, we will have some blog posts explaining what their process has been. It's more technical, so we will probably put it on our company's blog here: Tribe Of Pan.
For me, I could finally start editing the interviews. I started with a story about medical abortion, an abortion performed for health-related reasons. Not many of us expect to hear stories like that when thinking about abortion. The pregnancy was planned, and the couple was waiting to have a baby -- picking names, toys, making the baby-room ready. They were even preparing for the baby shower. And then they were literally hit with some information about fetal abnormalities. Not one, multiple.
Very emotional, very powerful story. And a wonderful interviewee. But I will not reveal too much yet, I want you all to hear this story when it will be ready for you to watch.
With working on this interview, we also dived into creating a branching narrative. The Choice will invite the audience to have a conversation with women who had an abortion. To create this feeling of talking to someone, we are creating some dialogue elements: you will see some questions, select one of them, and the storyteller will then answer.
We have also started working on illustrations. The Choice takes place in a dark void -- so the distractions are blocked, you are not thinking about the outside world. We want the audience to focus their attention on the storyteller.
So why the illustrations? Let me quote Zoe Roellin, our VR artist:
"I have been brought on board to create illustrations that appear in the black space around the interviewees, both visualizing specific scenes from their stories and conveying the complex emotions they faced on their journey. In creating those illustrations, I am seeking a delicate balance between illustrating the stories told without overshadowing the words of the interviewees by using a flowing, sometimes abstract style. My intention is to build a strong sense of atmosphere and create scenes evocative enough to invite the viewer to take in those images but also think past them, and use their own imagination to connect with the stories told."
Zoe has already started working on the concept, and it is truly beautiful. I will introduce Zoe in a separate post soon so you can learn more about who she is and how she approaches VR storytelling with her illustrations.
That's all with the catching up. Since those 2 weeks when I gave the presentation -- we have done even bigger progress! Wow! Truly a great time for us! So many things happening! I am truly excited!
But I will tell you more - next time ;)