Clever Fox Media is creating a live-action VR anthology film series titled, Broadcast. The studio was formed by TV and film stalwarts Julia Howe and Dekker Dreyer. The company focuses on 360 video and has created branded content for Disney in addition to its own original productions. Each of Broadcast’s initial five episodes will run three to five minutes and will feature a unique and self-contained story exploring the darker side of VR in a manner similar to the BBC’s Black Mirror.
“Every episode we focus on a negative aspect of where VR could be in the future,” Dreyer said over the phone. “We love VR, but we also know it is going to bring some of these bigger social questions to light. Today we are seeing people burning out on social media. The real world persona is more tied to how you traverse the digital space than ever. How is this going to look once VR continues to rise?”
According to Dreyer, Broadcast’s initial five episodes are planned to premier in one binge-appropriate release on Samsung Gear VR in late June or early July. They will also be exploring releases on other major headsets such as the Oculus Rift and PSVR when those devices launch later this year. Dreyer released the descriptions of the first two thought-provoking episodes exclusively to UploadVR.
Episode 1: The premiere episode of Broadcast explores the life of a father in a dystopian future where currency comes from the amount of interactions you can generate online. The episode will explore the darker side of our Internet-facing culture as you witness the disturbing lengths people will go to in order to increase their wealth through online approval.
Episode 2: This episode will tackle reality programs in a VR enabled future. What if you could pay by the minute to occupy the life of a celebrity through VR? And what would happen if a glitch in the system kept you from leaving after your session expires? You might see more than you ever wanted to.
The real kicker is that these VR-centric stories will be explored and interpreted while you are inside a VR headset. According to Dreyer, Broadcast will explore different camera angles, characters and perspectives for you as the viewer to experience. The episodes are expected to fall into a TV-14 category and avoid showing anything overly gratuitous while, “pushing that line as far as we can,” Dreyer said. Dreyer believes three to five minutes is the optimal viewing time for VR films at this point in the emerging medium’s lifespan.
“Shorter experiences are better [for VR films] right now. They are going to get longer, but I’ve discovered that there is sort of a drop-off in immersion and detachment after that 5-minute mark. During something like a 12-minute film I’ve seen that people start to get a little anxious. Even though they’re immersed in this world they get an anxiety of sorts where the real world starts to leak back in and they start thinking ‘what time is it’ and ‘are my friends still there?’ People start to get antsy,” Dreyer said.
Clever Fox already put out two films on the Gear VR and other headsets. Both the survival story Last Man Standing and the horror film Coyote are available now through the distribution platform Littlstar.
Broadcast’s first trailer will be released in March and will bring with it the concrete release dates for the entire series.