So, here is fifteen minutes of test footage for Joanna VR which you can (hopefully) watch either in your browser or on your phone. Give it a look and let me know what you think. Don’t forget, the Movie Deathmatch kicks off on Monday 23rd of November (Yes I got the date wrong originally, thanks to Nat for pointing that out).
This is, as the title should indicate, a big important post. Don’t worry. It’s not a “we need to talk” post, or an “I just spoke to the Doctor” post. It’s a cool one. An exciting one. It’s also one that is a little difficult to know where to begin. Firstly, you need to know about a person and you need to know about a thing. The person is this guy:
That guy is Doctor Abraham Campbell (Abey to his friends). Abey is a computer scientist currently lecturing in University College Dublin’s Chinese school in Beijing (UCD has a big campus) and probably Ireland’s foremost mind in the field of virtual reality. He’s also a buddy of mine. That’s the person. The thing is this:
In case you haven’t heard of it, that’s the Oculus Rift, the first real, high-quality, no-fooling, virtual-reality headset that is going to be commercially available for sale in early 2016. Now, there’s no way of knowing whether Virtual Reality is going to be just a weird little technological gimmick or a game changer like the smartphone. But we’re going to find out. Soon. This is happening. Abey, who incidentally is the smartest human I know by a significant margin, is betting on the latter. His goal, as he’s told me before, is that one day he’ll be able to hand a headset to someone in Sub-Saharan Africa that will contain an entire third level education. He’s also working on a holographic version of himself that he can broadcast to China so that he doesn’t have to leave home to teach his classes and yeah, I’m just going to play the music now.
So, why am I telling you all this? Well, because there’s no point in buying a SNES if there’s no Super Mario to play on it. The platform needs media.
Last year, the readers of this blog helped to fund Joanna, my play about a vigilante who savagely murders rapists as an avatar of the breakdown of civilized society caused by the betrayal of the social contract inherent in the justice system’s complete impotence in dealing with the crime of rape (It’s a comedy). One of the people who saw that play was Abey, and he approached me with an extremely exciting idea. Short version:
We’re turning Joanna into the world’s first full-length, mature virtual reality film.
This is potentially historic. This could, quite literally, be The Jazz Singer of the Virtual Reality era.
This could, quite literally, be the Steamboat Willy of the Virtual Reality era.
Throughout the summer Abey, myself, our extremely talented cast and crew and our director Jeda De Brí have been shooting tests scenes and experimenting with how this whole thing works. I’ll be doing follow up posts where I talk about the challenges of filming in 360 degrees and what we’ve learnt but the short version is this; we are now ready to create something that is thrilling, terrifying, and totally unlike anything else you’ve ever seen. And what’s more, you won’t need an Oculus Rift to view it (although that will certainly give you the best experience). With a decent smartphone and headset you will be able to experience Joanna for yourself. How do you get a headset? I’m getting to it (told you this was a long post). Below you can see our Kickstarter video. The Kickstarter page hasn’t gone live yet so you guys are actually the first outside of the production to see this. (Oh, and there’s some guy we hired to stand in for me because Abey thought that anti-rodent prejudice might affect our ability to raise money and like a coward I listened).
Abey, Jeda, myself and our associated henchpersons have set up a Kickstarter page so that you can give us your money to fund this exciting endeavour. For as the Bible says, is money not the root of all evil? Better off without it, I say, we’ll take care of it for ya. And, as is customary, we will be offering rewards for donations. These are cumulative, with a new reward added to each level which I’ve put in bold. They are as follows:
$1– A thank you, sincere and genuinely felt.
$5– Your name in the credits.
$10- Now we’re talkin’. You get to download your own copy of the movie. (FYI you’ll need a smartphone with a four inch display that can play mp4s.) Plus your name in the credits.
$25-All of the above plus a limited edition Joanna Google Cardboard viewer for a better viewing experience.
Summit like this.
$40- A digital download of the movie, the Google Cardboard viewer, your name in the credits and a movie poster signed by the cast, director and author.
$60- A digital download of the movie, the Google Cardboard viewer, your name in the credits and a movie poster signed by the cast, director and author and a signed Joanna screenplay.
$75- Now we start getting fancy. You get the movie, your name in the credits and a movie poster signed by the cast, director and author and a signed Joanna screenplay. And you get a snazzy as bejaysus plastic limited edition Joanna VR viewer.
Snazzy. As. Bejaysus.
$100- A digital download of the movie, your name in the credits, signed movie poster, signed Joanna screenplay, snazzy as bejaysus plastic limited edition Joanna VR viewer and a Joanna T-Shirt.
$150- A digital download of the movie, your name in the credits, signed movie poster, signed Joanna screenplay, snazzy as bejaysus plastic limited edition Joanna VR viewer, Joanna T-Shirt and an assessment of your script by our director Jeda DeBrí and our author Neil Sharpson (currently under contract with the Abbey Theatre, Dublin). They’re very constructive and super nice (usually).
$250– Everything on the $150 level plus get out your fanciest duds ‘cos you’re comin’ to the wrap party in Dublin!
$300- Get those fancy duds out a second time because you’re coming to the premiere! Plus, digital download of the movie, your name in the credits, signed movie poster, signed Joanna screenplay, snazzy as bejaysus plastic limited edition Joanna VR viewer, Joanna T-Shirt, an assessment of your script by our director Jeda DeBrí and our author Neil Sharpson and you’re coming to the wrap party.
$500– You get to be part of the Beta, testing footage on Oculus Rift. You’ll get behind the scenes footage and see the film two weeks before it’s released to the public. Plus, you get everything at the $300 level.
$1000- As you are clearly someone we want to be pals with, how about you come on set and watch us film? Filming will take place in late January/Early February. Come, meet the cast and crew and let us answer any of your questions about VR technology and filming. And of course, you will also get to be part of the Beta, an invite to the wrap party, an invite to the premiere, a digital download of the movie, your name in the credits (probably in big flashing lights), a signed movie poster, a signed screenplay, snazzy as bejaysus plastic limited edition Joanna VR viewer, Joanna T-Shirt , an assessment of your script by our director Jeda DeBrí and our author Neil Sharpson and a partridge in a pear tree*
*Subject to very limited availability.
So yes. I’m asking you for money. And as usual, that can only mean one thing:
On November 23 when the Kickstarter page goes up, I will post the 12 movies and TV series that have been selected to compete this year, along with a guide as to how voting will work this year so be sure to check in for that.
So. Yeah. I know it’s all a lot to take in. Also, please share this far and wide. Know somebody who’s interested in VR? This is a really inexpensive way to get their hands on some cutting edge tech, so let them know. Know someone who’s big into gritty female-led drama? This might be for them. Please help us get the word out make this as big as it can be. Any questions, let me know.