It was standing room only at the keynote presentation for the Busan Intl. Film Festival’s Virtual Reality conference, demonstrating the keen interest the world media industry has in this new platform. The keynote was delivered by Jerome Blanquet, creator of the narrative VR experience “Alteration,” starring Bill Skarsgard, Pom Klementieff, Lizzie Brocheré and Amira Casar, that has taken audiences at the Tribeca and Venice festivals by storm earlier this year, and won the special jury prize at the Paris Virtual Film Festival.
Produced by French outfit Okio Studio, “Alteration” is set in the future and centers around a man who volunteers for an experiment to study dreams and is subjected to the intrusion of Elsa, a form of artificial intelligence aiming to digitize his subconscious. “Alteration” world premiered at Tribeca.
“To me, VR is like a dream, you can walk, you can fly, you can do anything,” said Blanquet in his opening remarks. During his keynote, Blanquet walked the audience through the process of creating a VR experience.
Blanquet studied art history and then became a designer and editor before directing several shorts. “Alteration” is his first VR project. From a hardware point of view, it is possible to monetize VR via consumer sales of headsets, like Samsung Gear VR and the Facebook Oculus Go, both at an affordable consumer price point. But it is a different story for content creators. Speaking to Variety ahead of the conference, Blanquet said, “Though some attempts have been made, at the moment there is no financial model in place. It is difficult for content creators.” “Alteration,” for example, was made possible by a grant from Oculus, France’s Arte and CNC, and the Audi talent awards, among many others.
In 2016, more than $2.6 million was invested in VR, but the content largely remains free. Blanquet feels that with time, consumers will pay for subscriptions, like they do for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and other SVOD services.
Blanquet also acknowledged that VR will become a big player in the porn industry. “In embracing new technologies, the porn industry has always been a pioneer, like 3D for example, especially, the natural point of view the technology provides.”
The hardest part of creating a VR experience is the writing, Blanquet said. Coming up with the mise en scene must necessarily embrace several worlds, especially theater and gaming.
As with all successful narratives, in any format, it boils down to the foundation — the script.