Virtual Revolution – Gaming Takes the Big Screen

The line between reality and virtual reality shrinks with every passing day. Although science fiction has addressed computer games many times in the past, recent inventions in the gaming world and the public’s growing acceptance of “extreme” gaming lifestyles has sparked new

After his short film “Cassandra” won dozens of awards and appeared in over 80 festivals, director Guy-Roger Duvert began work on Virtual Revolution, a cyberpunk mystery thriller involving realities more and less virtual. True to genre, the story wrestles with the idea of a corporate aristocracy. Corporations have little to do with the making of the film, however, since the team has launched an IndieGoGo campaign.

The director took time to answer a few questions for us, allowing a sneak peek into the world of Virtual Revolution.

Me: While Virtual Revolution is predominantly marketed as a cyber punk thriller, there will be post apocalyptic and fantasy elements in the film as well. How do these elements develop the film’s primary setting and story?

page-13Guy-Roger Duvert: 60% of the film is set in Neo Paris, France, in 2047. We follow Nash, a shadow agent working for a multinational company, and whose mission is to track down and eliminate terrorists who threaten the system. During his investigations, he visits many places, from the very rich and futuristic parts of the city to its dirtiest slums. But he also actually has to connect himself into some virtual worlds, in order to reach and infiltrate the terrorists. During the movie, we see two of these virtual worlds: one is a purely heroic fantasy world, a bit like World of Warcraft or Everquest, and another one is a futuristic post apocalyptic context (imagine if Tatooine had known a war for 100 years, with only humans. The result would be close from the world we describe). So, visually, we will have some very distinct universes, but it will always stay linked to the main plot. Also, technology will never stay far away. For instance, in the fantasy world, users/players regularly have access to their online mails, on holographic interfaces.

page-16Me: What challenges or benefits do you face launching a new project after a successful short film like “Cassandra?”

Guy-Roger Duvert: The main benefit is that “Cassandra” gives us credibility when we meet potential investors for our new project. They consider that if we got 50 awards for “Cassandra,” it must mean we know a little bit what we’re doing. That being said, I have to admit I was expecting more. A few decided to get on board for Virtual Revolution, but most prefer to wait and watch, thinking that a short doesn’t prove the capacity to make a feature. I can understand the argument, but still, I didn’t think it would take so much time for us to find investors. So, the main challenge for us is the financing.

Besides that, the rest is a lot of work, but also a lot of fun, and not that much of a problem. We’re using basically the same team that worked on “Cassandra,” that we even improved by adding new elements. Most of us have already worked together. So, we are in known grounds. It is really exciting to see the first locations secured, the first costumes made, the first props created. Like for “Cassandra,” we put a lot of efforts and attention to make sure we make the world believable. So, we are creating our own companies logo, our own sodas, alcohols… We also had many meetings to make decisions about our hypothesis about the future. For instance, does paper still exist ? (We decided that yes, as low resources people will still use it for communication. For instance to advertise a party or a small shop in the neighborhood). People who live in the huge towers we’ll see in the movie… How do they get their food ?…etc.

So, to sum up, the main challenge is the financing. The rest is just a lot of work and a lot of organization. And at the end, also a lot of fun.

Me: The world of Virtual Revolution features a society built around the entertainment industry. How do your experiences and insights as part of this world’s entertainment industry illuminate this topic?

page-11Guy-Roger Duvert: I didn’t take inspiration as much from my experiences from the entertainment industry, as from the ones I’ve had as a gamer. The society described in Virtual Revolution is indeed built around the entertainment industry in general, but more specifically it is built around virtual worlds, which should be descendants of video games more than movies. Basically, these virtual worlds will be like the 5th or 6th generation of what World of Warcraft is today. The whole movie was actually inspired by an article read in 2005, about one of these MMORPG games, called Everquest, 2. 25 % of the players admitted giving more importance to their virtual life in game than to their real one. And we are talking about an archaic game, with a 2D screen and basic interface (keyboard, mouse). When virtual reality will feel as real as reality, this number will increase dramatically. That is what is described in the film.

Me: Science fiction forecasts the best and worst futures of today’s technology. This project draws obvious parallels with recent advancements in virtual reality gaming, like the Oculus Rift and the Virtuix Omni gaming treadmill. Virtual Revolution addresses the risks of such pursuits. Are there any recent advances you think could lead to a positive future?

page-19Guy-Roger Duvert: Actually, this is the very question asked by the film. Yes, letting virtual reality take over our lives is now a real threat to our civilization. But, at the same time, is it a bad thing? Reality isn’t a great place for everyone. Most people have lousy jobs (if they have any), they get no recognition, they have problems of lack of money, or problems of health, or they just starve. What can all these people expect from reality today? Most of them accept their situation, hoping it will be better for their children. Very noble but dramatic sacrifice. Or they lose all hopes. All these people could have amazing lives inside virtual worlds!

The main argument against this is: “Yes, but it’s not real.” But what is the definition of real? All our sensations are electrical signals sent to our brains. In virtual worlds, the electrical signals would be the same. So, the sensations would be as real as reality. When you laugh or when you cry in front of a movie, your emotion is real. So, this is the main topic of the film. It questions our definition of what is it to be a human being. Of what defines us as human beings.

Me: How can fans support the film in addition to contributing to the IndieGoGo campaign?

Guy-Roger Duvert: Well, the wealthiest ones can definitely contact us directly if they want to invest in the film. 😉 Besides that, the more people talk about the project, the more they share our FB page, our Indiegogo page, or articles like this one, the more they support our adventure!page-15

M. Leigh Hood is a rare beast of the Cincinnati wilderness typically preoccupied with writing, nerding, and filming The Spittoon List. For more articles and stories by M. Leigh Hood, look HERE.

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