Vidgame animation vet Ricard Gras makes movie bow

LYON, France — Zentropa has moved into toon production in Spain, backing “Vlogger,” the film debut of Ricard Gras, a pioneer in vidgame animation and the creation of virtual worlds.

Luis de la Madrid’s Cine de Garaje co-produces out of Spain. Trust Nordisk will handle international distribution.

Set up at Barcelona-based Zentropa Intl. Spain, run by David Matamoros, “Vlogger” combines live action and virtual worlds in a thriller about a young woman from the Middle East, now living in Barcelona, who learns her twin brother plans to become a suicide bomber. With just two days to find him, she begins exploring virtual worlds using an avatar.

Gras is directing from his own screenplay.

“This is a pure R&D project,” Matamoros said.

It’s driven by two concerns, he continued: “To move people with film backgrounds closer to the world of video games, and also suggest how a policy of terror is affecting the global economy.”

Micro-budgeted, “Vlogger” has drawn down a new technology production grant, the first of its kind, from Spain’s Icaa film institute.

Already in production, it will be ready for delivery by late May. Having fully-financed “Vlogger,” Matamoros will now explore different business models such as alternative distribution. Options include the Filmin VOD service for Spain, Twitter and YouTube, targeting a core 15-25 demo and a secondary audience of 25-45s.

Catalan-born but based in the U.K., Gras launched digital media production company Inter-Activa in 2000.

It soon became known for early machinima — animation made with vidgame technology — a technique to be employed in “Vlogger.”

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