“Nicholas is a director and producer with multiple awards under his belt. Find out more about him here to better understand his position.”
Hi Nicholas! I know we have worked together in the past but would you briefly describe yourself to those who might not know you?
My name is Nicholas Gyeney, I am a writer, director and producer who grew up here in Seattle. I graduated from the University of Southern California’s film program after receiving a full scholarship. My goal is to create ambitious independent films here in Seattle like the latest film released Beta Test which currently holds the record for the longest single-take fight scene.
– I will say it is very awesome to have worked on a film with Linden Ashby “Johnny Cage from Mortal Kombat” because of the fact that you bring large format films to Seattle. But we are here to talk about another subject.
360 Theatrical Storytelling for VR and AR. Here to stay or too soon to call?
I thought about this a lot when I was developing Beta Test. Should I have the main character Max playing this game via VR or on screen? I did a lot of research about history and the cycles of film and entertainment technology. What I took away was that I feel that VR is amazing technology that will be integral to society but it will never replace the standard method which is the monitor.
With the advent of television people wondered if the radio would go away. Radio is still powerful today; they exist together. I think VR will exist with film and radio but I don’t think it will replace either form.
That also reminds me of the invention of photography. Traditional fine artist started cropping the compositions of oil paintings to reflect a rawness or presence in the art just like a photograph still. This was met with a huge uproar but later has become somewhat of a standard or norm.
Right, there will be an adjustment period. Even when 3D films came out everything would be 3D but it eventually died down. Now there are fewer 3D movies because the community dictates what it wants. They enjoyed a 3D experience for certain types of film – imagine if Good Will Hunting was 3D? It doesn’t need to be. 2D film is a moving painting. The confinement makes it a tangible piece of art. Once you break that dimensional barrier it spills into something else like a theme park attraction, at least to me.
So make sure to keep the content in the appropriate medium?
“With VR I felt that the escape is a little bit different”
James Cameron, Spielberg or Peter Jackson push the boundaries. So I’m sure there will be feature films made in VR but I don’t think audiences will accept that as the new standard. It might be overwhelming and amazing but 2 hours of 360 degree action would cause anxiety attacks in people. But then again they said this about movies when they first started. The classic “train pulling into the station”, which I believe was the first movie ever shown, made people freak out and leave the theater. At least those viewers had the ability to exit or escape the content. With VR I felt that the escape is a little bit different wherein you have to consciously remove yourself from it and remove the device.
These are great pain points for people to tackle and keep in mind. Speaking of pain points and boundaries since you’re sort of “LAN line to Hollywood” here in Seattle are you hearing any chatter on what their perspective is on 360 and VR content?
I know of several companies that are dabbling with it. There is a business element to consider when comparing long form/large format entertainment to VR theaters that doesn’t make too much sense to me. All of a sudden you have a group of people with helmets on?
Like the silent raves and clubs that are emerging ?
Yes, you are removing and in essence destroying the cinematic experience. In one way you are expanding it but in another way you are ruining it. I think a lot of filmmakers will be upset in VR because it’s a very isolating thing at the moment.
I do agree that film has a very romantic experience side of it where you can listen and react together with the people around you.
“That’s not what cinema was intended to be. It’s supposed to be a shared experience.”
It reminds me a lot of the Back to the Future Ride and Universal Studios where you and three others are in a car going through an experience but when you look up around you there are 100 other cars filled with people – but you are not sharing that experience, your experience is with yourself. That’s not what cinema was intended to be. It’s supposed to be a shared experience. Home video viewing is totally different but again if you’re with your partner on the couch how romantic is it to be wearing separate devices together?
There are things to consider beyond the advent of technology. You have to consider the impact on society and on business. In essence you would be removing theatrical distribution – that would cause a catastrophe. This is a large part of why we haven’t converted solely to solar energy. Because it would destroy the oil industry. The way that theatrical filming is view
Ultimately there will be long form content developed for VR but it’s going to exist as an experience not a film. They will co-exist. You will enjoy VR as an at-home experience but you will leave to watch a film in a theater, or watch one on your TV at home.
So because you are directing and producing on set it’s safe to say you put a lot of thought and consideration into the framing of each shot. With 360 content in a “sense” we are taking the camera away from the director and giving it to the viewer – giving them the ability to focus on what they decide.
“what’s the point of us being there?”
Correct, That also removes the artistic control of the filmmaker. That also betrays the film makers. At that point what’s the point of us being there? We make these movies because we have something to say, we have something we want to show you. If we are just there holding a camera and you’re the one creating your own experience, that’s not film. That’s a theme park ride. I think it will be a very cool experience, just not “film”. They are very different worlds.
So what are some barriers that our readers and community can work towards to get you and other film makers a prompt to re evaluate the industry possibilities?
I don’t think it will be to hard to get Hollywood more involved. It will just be a new avenue. It’s like if James Cameron was to direct a commercial for COMCAST.
That’s not his new career, he’s just doing it on the side. Filmmakers will undoubtedly dabble with VR and create content for VR, Spielberg I’m sure will make some crazy things for VR, James Cameron, Peter Jackson Etc.. but those won’t be listed in their filmography. those will be projects for VR. I just don’t see the two worlds becoming one.
Thanks for your sharing your perspective Nicholas. It’s very helpful for our community to understand both side of a major topic to know what to work towards or what to continue doing.
Last question and closing thoughts. What did you think of Eric Neuman when you met him today?
“If his opinions are different than mine he’s wrong”
Seems like a very nice guy. Definitely a guy you want to share some beers with. He seems to be very passionate about his side of the aisle. I have no idea on what his opinions are about film and VR. If his opinions are different than mine he’s wrong…..Just kidding.
Who knows, Maybe audiences will totally change their minds but if you look at history it doesn’t show us that these new technologies will replace the standard. The standard will always be there.
Nicholas is working on 3 new films. Beta Test is now available for purchase
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