What distinguishes a screenplay from a novel is its inherent need to be visualized and realized. And for the first time, I was being given this opportunity last summer in the Netherlands. If you want to know the process behind writing the short 360° experience “Wake Up” (TNO), keep on reading.
Certainly, screenplays can have emotional and psychological impact without visualization and realization – and as a beginner, it is important to just write. It is rather rare that your first script will be converted into movie format straight-away.
The first (short) script I ever wrote, from start to finish (in German), was called “Spinner”. It is about a heartbroken young man who is feeling bothered by a buzzing sound, and whose brother mysteriously disappeared. He is being visited by Fly (a man in a fly costume), who poses him a riddle that could solve the mystery. But is Fly his helper, or actually leading him to his demise? This script went through a lot of re-writes, and I had hoped to shoot it, but there was not enough time, no crew, no equipment, so I let it be. Afterwards, I started writing another German (short) script called “Jagdliebe”, about a hunter who finds out that his girl is on a date with another man, so as they take a walk, he goes on to hunt them down. Once again, this story idea did not get realized either.
Eventually, I got the VR movie internship at the Dutch Research Organisation TNO in the summer of 2018. I had around one month or so of time to come up with a script for a 360° short video that was supposed to be interactive and branch into different endings. This was quite a challenge, but one that I welcomed. The opportunity to finally be able to realize a script of mine was a dream come true. 🙂
The goal was to create a script that could be realized within the means at my disposal, which were a Insta360Pro, and around extra 1,000-2,000€ (which is around $1,500-3,000). I could choose whichever genre or storyline I wanted, as long as I could meet those parameters. I was quite delighted over that fact.
After some research and exploration of current VR videos, I decided that it would be best to go with (slightly campy) Horror and a gothic aesthetic. (Most narrative VR Videos nowadays are Horror.) Also, I figured it would be best if the video was overall static, because nowadays, movement within a VR video can create motion sickness too easily.
Based on those parameters, my interest in sleep paralysis, and loosely employing the formulas of the Riddle and Escape plots, I created the script for “Wake Up”: You wake up in your bed, but you cannot move! A Succubus (female demon) appears. You either outsmart her Tarot card came and wake up, or you die in your sleep! How can you survive if all you have is your gaze?! (Sleep paralysis survival story)”
The unique challenge in 360° VR is accounting for all the possible angels and viewpoints the viewer/player can focus on. Due to that, I “color-coded” my script, created a flow chart and 360° view diagram, as you could see above.
Admittedly, the end product looks and sounds a bit different. That’s because of the production and post-production process…
For that, stay tuned! 😉