The movie Bang Bang Baby by first-time director Jeffrey St. Jules premieres in Canada this week and is being promoted by a creepy meta wraparound movie produced by Canadian VR startup DimensionGate. Together, the two projects show how the mediums of film and VR can be used to effectively complement one another.
Bang Bang Baby is a musical about a woman living in a sleepy 1960’s town who dreams of escaping onto the stage and screen when she hears the local chemical factory is leaking purple gas. This is the trailer:
Now, viewing the below video in your browser on a PC or Mac or using the Youtube app on your phone you can get a sense of how the wraparound movie would look in Google Cardboard or in another VR headset. It’s the trailer shown inside a theater with a character from the movie taking a seat beside you to thoroughly creep you out.
When I came across these projects the first video I saw was the wraparound one. I didn’t immediately realize it was a 360 experience on my phone until I heard the creepy guy whispering to me a couple times. That’s when I rotated the video to see him talking directly to me. I see him pointing to the screen saying “don’t watch me, watch that” at the same time the trailer ramps up its weirdness. Thoughts started to rush through my head. “Do I listen to him? What is happening on the screen? What’s that weird sound? If I don’t listen to him is he going to hurt me?” None of this was experienced in a head-mounted display but it was still a compelling experience that got inside my head and made me more curious about the film.
Overall, it’s a notable use of Youtube as universal platform. The videos are a great proof-of concept for how film and VR can be used to complement one another. With a bit of creativity and relatively little money or time invested filmmakers can reach a global audience across all devices, from phone to desktop to head-mounted display.