I was approached by award winning Advertising Agency Don’t Panic with the creative brief to make a 360 interactive Virtual Reality film :
‘Let’s show whatever choice a family trapped by urban warfare makes; there is no escape from the horror of war.’
Primarily dedicated towards humanitarian issues, The International Committee of the Red Cross wanted to create a film to raise awareness of what an average family may face on a daily basis living in a war zone; with the aim of increasing donations to the middle eastern refugee crisis.
The interactive 360 film, created in partnership with Google, tells the story of a family during a typical evening spent at home. The familiarity of the family’s domestic living room setting is disrupted by armed militia surrounding their home and firing ammunition into their living room.
The viewer is given the choice within the narrative in the moment that the family are under siege, and influences the actions the family are to take next - thus effecting the outcome of the film. The question is - are you going to make the right choice?
Filming an interactive immersive experience in stereoscopic
Shot on a Google Jump Camera in stereoscopic, the VR film was the first of it’s kind to use an edit or a ‘blend’ in the 360 footage.
After an explosion of glass through the window, and the Dad is hit in the shoulder by a flying bullet, there is a freeze frame moment where the viewer is confronted with two different options and choices for the family to take in order to survive the siege.
The importance of Casting
I spent 4 weeks in Beirut holding casting workshops.
The film was shot in 3 parts, and in each part, we filmed with the locked off Google Jump camera. I directed the performance and choreographed this around the camera. No close ups or edits were to be used, the action was directed as a piece of theatre.
Capturing the Dad falling under the impact of the bullet that flies through the window was a technical as well as a performance challenge. I had many conversations with The Red Cross, and watched many YouTube videos on the impacts bullets make when entering the body, and how people fall when being hit. I was able to work with Actor Ziad to recreate an authentic fall from being hit in the shoulder by an automatic bullet wound. His performance and fall was directed towards the viewer (the camera), but also maintained a realism in line with the laws of physics.
The chemistry between the family members had to be natural and believable.
The sibling love and compassion between the little 5 year old Ray and his 8 year old sister Anya had to be authentic, and their performance around their reactions to being under gun fire had to be natural and un-staged as possible.
“Avril did an amazing job with the casting for The Right Choice. I was shocked at her tenacity and determination to get the perfect cast. She spent over a month in Beirut and auditioned over a hundred children and potential parents, and to my mind the performances are one of the main triumphs of the experience. She is undoubtedly one of the best performance directors in the VR sector in the world.”
Richard Guy Executive Producer, VISUALISE