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‘Wonder Buffalo’ filmmakers Receive ETC@USC Innovation Technology Award

Project epitomizes experimentation with new technology in film production

The Entertainment Technology Center at the University of Southern California has picked filmmaker Christine Berg and her writing partner Simon Shterenberg to receive its 2016 Innovative Technology award for their Cloud Project Initiative on behalf of “Wonder Buffalo,“ their film/alternate reality/virtual reality project.

The script for “Wonder Buffalo” was developed by the duo at the Writers Guild Foundation’s Veterans Writing Program, which pairs military veterans with WGA film and television writers.

A live-action coming of age story, “Wonder Buffalo” follows an overweight first-generation Thai American teen who dreads her duties as a daughter. She runs away from home to attend a local cosplay event at her favorite comic book store. Along the way, in her imagination she battles monsters, superheroes, and annoying school bullies, ultimately preparing her for a battle against her most powerful nemesis—her mother.

Supporters for the project include Disney/ABC Television Group, Warner Bros., NAGRA Kudelski Group, Technicolor, Equinix, Sony Electronics, Amazon Web Services, the Creative Visions Foundation, The World Building Institute, and USC School of Cinematic Arts.

The project leans on alternate reality, virtual reality, and various technology platforms – including the open-source Cinema Content Creation Cloud (C4) – to tell its story.

“[We are} excited take part in the production of ‘Wonder Buffalo,’ says André Kudelski, chairman and CEO, NAGRA Kudelski Group. “We look forward to the innovations in entertainment technology and security that will result from this project.”

“The ‘Wonder Buffalo’ project with ETC offers a unique opportunity to push the boundaries of how entertainment is created and consumed,” adds Sandra Carvalho, Technicolor’s Chief Marketing Officer. “We are looking forward to engaging with the creative technology community to further explore how HDR and immersive media can empower storytellers.”

Erik Weaver, executive producer, is project director of the Cloud Project and head of the cloud track at NAB. Drew Diamond, producer of “Wonder Buffalo,” produced the previous ETC film, “The Suitcase”.

Production designer and USC Professor Alex McDowell (“Fight Club”), in conjunction with the World Building Media Lab, will oversee the AR/VR and mixed media for the project. His VR experience, “The Leviathan Project,” premiered as an official selection at Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier exhibit earlier this year. Technical Director Joshua Kolden, visual effects artist for “Fight Club” and previs supervisor for “The Day After Tomorrow,” is leading the C4 efforts for the project.

Composer Robert Lydecker (“Sleepy Hollow”) will join the team to score. Jami Rudofsky (“Gilmore Girls”) will be casting director.

Says the project’s writer/director Christine Berg, “It’s quite an honor to be a part of this process, and to see my story come to life with such wonderful advocates.”

McDowell adds, “the production demands of new mixed reality media offer a timely opportunity to re-evaluate and stimulate our traditional production processes as they flow kicking and screaming into the 21st century. USC Cinematic Arts is uniquely positioned to revolutionize how productions can integrate shared-assets from linear narrative through immersive media, and to illustrate how stories can exist across multiple platforms.”

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