brett-leonardLawnmower Man director Brett Leonard is working on a project called Hollywood Rooftop, which is going to be shot both as an immersive 360 video as well as a 2D film. It’s an experiment to discover some of the unique cinematic storytelling affordances for each medium, and he’s developing an Immersive CinemaVX manifesto that is modeled off of some of the Dogma 95 principles that will set up a framework to not these emergent technologies get in the way of the core principles of the drama, character, emotion, and story.

Leonard also has a lot of ideas for how virtual reality can take a lot of inspiration from indigenous ritual ceremonies in order to create a context such that you can discover yourself and others. He says that storytelling is in our DNA, and that immersive VR & AR are catalyzing a transition into creating story worlds that allow people to uncouple from a linear timeline. He says that ritual experiences in VR may be able to help us achieve an “in-the-moment epiphany” within a group experience where the abstractions of VR could actually paradoxically help us bring us back to the potency of the presence of a moment and to “true reality.”

He’s currently experimenting with how knowing onself could be reflected back to you in a VR experience by symbolically translating emotional peak experiences in his Hollywood Rooftop experience, which the 360-video is going to be shot within the context of an immersive 360 dome. So it will be an immersive experience that’s shot within another series of immersive content that will be an outward reflection of the inner dynamics that is explored within the story of Hollywood Rooftop.

I had a chance to catch up with Leonard at the VRTO Conference in Toronto on June 16, 2018 to talk about his 2D vs 3D cinematic language experiment. We also explore his thoughts on how indigenous ritual ceremonies have been informing how he thinks about the potential of group VR experiences could be used to explore the unfettered human imagination, become a catalyst and evolutionary accelerator that enables true connectivity across cultures and boundaries, which could lead to a new era of human experience focused on love, connection and awakening.

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