Los Angeles Flow Artists spin fire as a means to make deeper connections with themselves and the world around them. Flowing With Fire is an emotionally moving, inspiring, and beautifully wrought 360 video experience that will galvanize or restore your faith in the medium. It was directed by Michael Gabriele, and Morgan Jenkins. FIVARS had a chance to speak with director Michael Gabriele about the origins, and production of the work, and how he came to medium:
What lead to the creation of this piece?
Flow arts is fascinating because it’s so much more personal than just a choreographed dance. The artist is expressing a part of themselves that cannot be explained through words. Furthermore, flowing with fire is both a mesmerizing and dangerous activity.
I wanted a more immersive way to showcase the beauty of flow arts featuring fire. I thought, wouldn’t it be amazing to experience a performance with fire surrounding you? I really wanted to give the audience a personal experience, as if they were getting a private performance in any stunning spots near and around Los Angeles.
Some use flow arts as a way to deal with grief. One artist in particular lost her mother and flow arts has helped her cope. Another artist has gained confidence through her flow. By dancing with such a dangerous element, she has excelled in her professional life, learning how to be a more effective leader. Some use it for meditation, they can tune out all the stress and clear their mind. Some flow to express joy and celebrate life. And finally, all the artists have commented on how positive and uplifting the flow community has been. It’s not a community that’s competitive. There’s no right or wrong way to flow. Each artist’s flow is different, unique and personal to themselves.
What was the production process for you and your team? What did you learn?
We shot on the Insta 360 Pro2. I did a bunch of tests at first trying to see how the fire looked in motion and what positions worked best to showcase the fire without distortion. Once I figured that out I worked with my co-director Morgan Jenkins to come up with talent, locations and choreography.
How did you become an immersive media content creator and why?
I started my directing career in the ad community of Chicago directing commercials. While I’m still directing commercials most of the time, I have branched out into narrative content. Earlier this year I discovered a VR headset for the first time and I was amazed and excited by this incredible immersive storytelling tool. For my first project, I teamed up with Morgan Jenkins to direct “Flowing With Fire”. Morgan, who was pregnant while we shot “Flowing With Fire” choreographed the group dance and found the ladies for the film.
As a director who’s worked on many projects, this new storytelling tool offers a more immersive experience unlike no other. By using immersive media I could share stories.
What do you have planned for the future?
I’m about to release another 360 mini-doc about a race team, and I have another one in development about a Drill and Drum Team out of Compton. My next exploration is narrative work in the 360 space. I’m also currently developing my first feature.
What would you like to share with fellow content creators and/or the industry?
I’m always looking for new opportunities to make more interactive content and connect with fellow artists. Send me a note and let’s connect!
Do you think VR festivals like FIVARS are important?
Most definitely. I’m glad that interactive media can be showcased, celebrating voices from around the world.