Sundance opened our eyes to a variety of VR videos during the week long festival. With over 30 VR experiences showcased, we saw everything from a weird fart short from Funny or Die, the quirky experience Waves with Reggie Watts, and the beautiful imagined worlds of Allumette.
Most of the VR shorts were entertaining and light-hearted, but there was one more serious VR experience that made attendees really think hard. Specular Theory’s Morris May teamed up with director Rose Troche again this year to show Perspective; Chapter 2: The Misdemeanor.
Perspective; Chapter 2: The Misdemeanor is the second in a series of controversial live-action VR experiences that places viewers in the perspective of both parties. In “The Misdemeanor,” two young men are stopped by a police officer when a simple misdemeanor spirals out of control.
Last year, the duo caused quite a stir with their buzzworthy Perspective; Chapter 1: The Party that chronicles a college campus frat party sexual assault – from both the victim and the assailant’s perspective.
The timely and relevant piece of “The Misdemeanor” comes at time when social injustice is a hot button topic. You can feel the tension build throughout the VR cinematic experience as each party in The Misdemeanor accuses the other of wrongdoing, rapidly turning aggressive with no-one able to stop the chain of events. As the viewer, you are placed in the action from both the perspective of the accused subject as well as the police officer – each point-of-view giving you a different perspective of the situation.
It is the power of experiencing two drastically different POVs that made “The Party” such a hit – now “The Misdemeanor” equally lives up to the series’ intention of pushing viewers outside their comfort zone and forcing a raw emotional response.
Perspective; Chapter 1: The Party became a strong cinematic tool that toured college campuses nationwide, helping to ignite a dialog about the often quieted sexual assaults on campuses. The hope for “The Misdemeanor” is to reach audiences well beyond Sundance attendees, hopefully making it to a Gear VR near you – and maybe a local police station as well.