Alien Rescue is a live virtual reality experience where you play a role in an interactive movie that will be part of the Fall 2022 festival. Viewers participate and enhance the living environment and the show has already built a cult following. FIVARS had a chance to speak with director Jason Moore.
What lead to the creation of this piece?
Alien Rescue is part of the MetaMovie Project: an ongoing series of experiments and performances, guided by research and aimed at discovering best practices for narrative-driven live virtual reality performances. Immersion, presence, agency, emotional experiences and suspension of disbelief are some of the core ideas I explore.
Our performances are designed for story-loving audiences of all ages and backgrounds (16 and up), with the intent of allowing audiences to have the maximum amount of agency possible in a live, fiction, ‘shared storytelling’ experience.
My goals are to give audiences the sense of being seen, feeling present, and having a belief that the world of the story around them is alive, breathing, real. My aim is to push the boundaries of what can be done using immersive VR technologies by combining aspects of many different storytelling forms, from cinema to live theater, video games to role-playing, in order to create a fresh, original form of immersive storytelling.
What was the production process for you and your team? What did you learn?
Over the period of two years, our team built worlds, designed avatars, wrote and rehearsed the material and eventually refined the process for our shared storytelling experience of Alien Rescue. As we offer so much audience agency, rehearsals with test “Heroes” were an important part of our process, helping us understand audience behavior so we can best adapt our show to the whims and desires of our Heroes.
Along the way, we learned that audiences love the freedom that agency allows them, but that they need personal coaching and support to move out of their day-to-day way of experiencing their world and into a very new way of experiencing a story in which they are the star and center of attention.
How did you become an immersive media content creator and why?
I have been a filmmaker and visual storyteller for many years, and I’ve always wanted to immerse my audiences as deeply as possible. I started experimenting with Virtual Reality in 2016 and realized that using live actors could engage an audience in a deeper way than traditional CGI characters using pre-recorded dialog trees. I started the MetaMovie project in 2017 and have been experimenting with live fiction storytelling in the Metaverse ever since. It has been such a liberating and exhilarating process that I’ve sold my traditional film gear and am “all in” on making work in immersive VR.
What is the VR/AR industry like in your region?
I live in New York city and VR is thriving here. We have many VR studios, large and small, there are workshops and booster labs, and I even teach VR at the college where I am a professor. VR is thriving here.
What do you have planned for the future?
I will continue running Alien Rescue as long as audiences keep buying tickets! With each new show, we try new mechanics and approaches, as our mission is experimental at its heart. We are constantly learning and refining our work. I plan on creating another original MetaMovie soon.
What would you like to share with fellow content creators and/or the industry?
I encourage anyone who is curious about the power of VR for storytelling to dive right in! I think you’ll see that there are many creative possibilities in this field, and we are really just at the very beginning. The VR community is small and supportive, so just reach out to anyone for advice or feedback!
Do you think VR festivals like FIVARS are important?
What I really love about FIVARS is that the festival is only about immersive work. Most festivals are film festivals with a VR division, but FIVARS is VR at its core, which I am really excited about.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Everyone from Alien Rescue is thrilled to be a part of FIVARS 2022, a festival that puts VR right at the front and center. We can’t wait to see the incredible work, meet other creators, and most importantly, share our live performance with FIVARS audiences!