New Virtual Reality Content Studio Launched with Major Filmmakers
Even though there’s a ton of buzz around virtual reality, in order for it to succeed, it will need a lot of unique content.
Gary Hustwit, filmmaker, said, “It’s kind of a chicken and egg thing. You’ve got to have enough players out there and headsets out there for people to be able to watch VR and for people to understand what it is. At the same time, you’ve got to have content that gets them to try it and also hooks them.”
Hustwit is also the CEO of a new company called Scenic. Scenic is a company that’s focused on producing non-fiction VR content through original VR documentaries and series created by several filmmakers that are independent.
The directors on board with Scenic all have great experience with documentaries. Here is the list of directors: Jessica Edwards (Mavis!), Amir Bar-Lev (The Tillman Story, Happy Valley) , Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You, Detropia), Dawn Porter (Trapped, Gideon’s Army), filmmaker/artist Lucy Raven, Liz Garbus (What Happened, Miss Simone?, The Farm: Angola, USA), Sam Green (The Weather Underground, The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller) and Marshall Curry (Street Fight, Point and Shoot).
They’re planning on making VR films on a variety of different topics. Scenic is hoping to launch 40 or more films in their first year and they’re constantly trying to expand as they currently are seeking more nonfiction filmmakers to become a part of their team.
Hustwit said, “VR is kind of dominated by gaming and CGI stuff. I think there is a real potential for documentary film to be made with this technology. But again, it’s about getting a lot of filmmakers to try it out and wrap their minds around it and figure out how it fits into their creative process.”
Dawn Porter is one of Scenic’s storytellers. She said, “Like many people, I have had a real curiosity about VR, but the prospect of learning the technical specs was daunting with so much other work on my plate,” she said. “Working with this skilled team removes tech insecurity from the equation, while also allowing all of us to collaborate. That’s what I’m most excited about, collaborating with such a creative group and as a result, pushing myself and my storytelling.”
Documentary filmmaking in virtual reality is more powerful than typical documentaries as it enables people to immerse themselves inside of the experience rather than just watching it in a simple, normal way. Hustwit said, “Until we as creators use the technology and experiment with it and try to make something great with it, we’ll never know if it’s going to be truly a transformative medium.”
If you want to watch their films, you will be able to watch them on their website, app or through one of their distributors via Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift or the other platforms that are created for virtual reality. Hustwit acknowledged that filmmaking for virtual reality is still pretty new, “We’re looking a year or two years ahead and anticipating what the original content needs are going to be for this to truly be a mass media.”