Case Study: Remain at Home

The emotional topic of immigration and having to leave one's home gains a different intensity through the Virtual Reality live action images.

Director and producer Gero A.E. Egger began working in the film industry in 2003. He has his own film production company called GO! Pictures KG which is currently focusing on producing short and feature 360°/VR experiences for the European and International Film Festival market. Remain at Home is a film dealing with people who have to leave their homes because of war.

“Hopefully the film evokes empathy and people can imagine that leaving home, especially because of war, is not fun, not at all!”

The message

“For me the story of Remain at Home has a very important connection to modern society issues. We can see the rising hatred against minorities in Western countries. The general public is projecting more and more personal fears onto minority groups like refugees and immigrants. I can understand those fears but we have to remember that we are all human beings. Hopefully the film evokes empathy and people can imagine that leaving home, especially because of war, is not fun, not at all! It might actually happen to anyone at anytime in any country. These are the reasons why I carried the idea for at least one year and then finally wrote the first draft of the script in only one day.”

Attending to the actor's feelings

“After discussing the script with friends and colleagues I cut it short at some points. The final draft was not formed until I started working with the actors who are actual refugees from Syria. That was a very valuable cultural exchange. In particular they helped me to refine the dialogue. At this point I would like to highlight one thing. At first I scripted the main character Mahmud to wear a rifle. To increase the impact on viewers my intention was to use a Western cliché how a young Syrian man might look like. But Omar, who played the role of Mahmud, told me that he feels very uncomfortable with that. I tried to explain the eye-catching effect to him. Although he understood he told me that only fighters have access to weaponry, that he doesn’t want to harm anyone and therefore has an aversion against any weapons, that even the possibility of being forced to wear or use a gun was a main reason for him to leave his home country. I could feel for him and therefore scripted out the rifle. Finally the script we worked with was the 8th or 9th revision and we had to use a German, an English and an Arabic version.”

The complexities of VR worlds

“I discussed everything in detail with the different departments weeks prior to the shoot because in a 360º environment it is even more important to work exactly according to the plan on set. For Remain at Home it helped us as a team that we were used to force ourselves to limit issues by considering as many things as possible before shooting (e.g. camera system, plates, blocking), though thinking in VR worlds makes it more complex. As the whole VR production workflow is still new, every department has to rethink their habits of making a film. We, as the film production company ‘GO! Pictures KG’, have been gaining traditional filmmaking experience for over 10 years now and started working on shooting possibilities for cinematic VR about three years ago. With our first 360° fiction film Remain at Home we wanted to showcase how we imagine cinematic live action imagery in VR. With further projects we are looking forward to introducing our understanding of cuts, close ups, interactive storytelling etc.”

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