Classic Storytelling and Cute Bunnies Team Up to Melt Hearts
In the DreamWorks meets Kafka bout of cinematic brilliance, you look down and realize that you’re no longer you and you are now a puffy and pawed rabbit with the sole purpose of thwarting an alien invasion. We have seen bunnies take on Ets before with Bugs Bunny and his shenanigans but audiences before now have just been passive onlookers along the way. Never before have audiences been invited into the storytelling itself. With this new VR film “Invasion” from Baobab Studios, you are dead center in the plot and the personas.
As Baobab Studios’ CEO Maureen Fan put it, “other than during Halloween, when [else] can you be a bunny?”
This title was directed by Eric Darnell, known for screenwriting and directing the Madagascar film franchise and in six minutes of run time he was able to achieve what holds true of other bold visions and creates a film that manages to feel wholly familiar and yet entirely fresh at the same time.
Touting itself as one of the few companies that creates character driven cinematic experiences, Baobab studios plans to achieve universal appeal by treating story as its main course and not the technology that will tell it. As fan explains, “unlike other VR content…we believe story comes first and VR is just another toy box used to create stories.”
Darnell reiterates Fan, saying, “If storytelling is what you are doing then storytelling better be priority one—the same way it is with cinema, theater and literature.”
This particular tale came to Darnell as he was watching the original War of the Worlds again:
“We have these super-powerful, super-advanced creatures from another world who should have no trouble taking us out. And yet, despite all their advanced know-how, they forget to take microorganisms into account. So I decided to write a story where the aliens are really massive bumblers—and forget to take into the account the ‘power’ of Earth’s cute white bunnies.”
Framing the virtual world we find ourselves is actor Ethan Hawke who was brought up in Grover’s Mill, New Jersey, the same place where H.G Wells’s cosmic conquistadors land and who gives his commanding voice to the project as a narrator.
“My job is to inspire viewers to make the choices I want them to make,” says Darnell. “At my best, I inspire the viewers to look where I want them to look when I want them to look somewhere specific. And when they do, I give them something interesting to focus on and surround that point of interest with other elements that the viewer will naturally compose into the shot that I want them to compose. If I do my job well, ideally, 100 percent of the viewers have the same experience.”
The full version of “Invasion” will be released in May and it will come with additional episodes slated to launch later this year so we will find out soon enough if you can put on your bunny suit.