Neural Path Director's Statement
The main concept of this film was to take under the radar virtual world building techniques in a narrative story. For quite some time, I've been meaning to tell the story of a female drug dealer and since there are two sides to every story, I figured that if I structured the story where sides were split 180 degrees between two characters then those perspectives using your gaze would serve as a decisive agency with interactive narrative in 360. When thinking about the technicalities of the film I wanted the viewer to be comfortable throughout the whole experience, meaning I didn't want them to get sick and be taken out of the story completely. When stereoscopic was brought up by my executive producer I said to keep it monoscopic for this reason.
In the opening scene, I wanted to explore the parameters of the interior of the car. Satoshi Kon's "Ohayo", a 1 minute short film that depicts a girl who experiences a disconnect in the process of waking up by having a translucent version of herself follow her was the inspiration to use translucent alter egos in the back seat of the car. Once the robbery ensues we see MK's alter ego screaming in frustration as her actual self drives after Tobias who's alter ego remains to stay as a fire starter. When thinking about how to shoot the next kidnapping scene I thought about doing a point of view shot from Tobias' perspective, but I then realized that I would run into stabilization issues where people could possibly get sick and be taken out of the story experience, so to avoid this I kept the viewer in third person and shot it from an external perspective.
In the warehouse I wanted to keep the viewer in 3rd person but add this extra layer to the viewers participation by having them experience a bit of what Tobias is experiencing in his drugged state. I placed a sacred geometric totem on the ceiling to set an ambiance that lets the user know this space is a surreal reality and a good utilization of the space to convey a sense of place esoterically. Instead of a revenge story based on anger and pain, I wanted this redemption to serve as a sort of surreal experience, dark but not scary. I wanted this revelation to take you down a rabbit hole of psychedelia oozing with symbolic meaning. When we get into the writing of it all the library books are a reflection of the destruction of them in the first scene, a destruction of knowledge essentially. Duality is the theme for this all and to question Tobias about the conscious and subconscious mind brings this into that theme. The dream incorporation is a dream stemmed from the events earlier in the day. To shed the veil of ignorance by achieving a state of nirvana through a rebirth of this trip. Ending this scene with another line of duality with past and future, which also reflects and foreshadows Janus, the god and what he represents. Then we continue to this transition shot that was created in a program named by this god.
In this day and age not many are in talks about the next evolution of the internet in virtual reality. With the help of my friend Alusion we created a scene in JanusVR, a VR Internet, using HTML and added some interesting elements. I wanted there to be an element of artificially intelligent world building and we made neural networks with Picasso's Girl Before A Mirror and laced them with our characters. I chose this painting because it has a theme of duality I wanted communicated and resonating with the piece.. Tobias in this scene is actually a Google Tango three dimensional scan, so his two 3D models are run through this neural network to make him look like a painting. The environment was also a Tango scan of the set from the prior scene. In this next scene I wanted to continue with this theme of duality by creating a visual depiction of Janus the animistic god of doorways, beginnings and endings. Continuing with the next scene in this trip and the duality theme, I had a horizontal and a vertical representation of snakes moving in an infinity symbol like an ouroboros, which symbolizes the cyclic nature of the universe, life out of death. The horizontal infinity when spun becomes smaller in form until it becomes nothingness while the vertical infinity when spun becomes narrows and lengthens infinitely. Another element of duality here and I put the the horizontal representation of nothingness/death behind Tobias and the vertical representation of infinity/life behind MK. The last line of dialogue "tabula rasa" is the blank state experienced before waking up from this trip a sort of a rebirth from this experience. When you reach the last scene a bit of a totem remains that MK begins to laugh about. The idea of ending the film by waking up from a dream was inspired by how I began this film. My friend Charles from 4th grade whom I hadn't seen in 9 years sends me a Facebook message saying he had a dream about me. As I'm reading his description of the dream, I come to the ending where apparently I said "Contact me on Facebook we'll be really good friends." So, in my sate of being tripped out we arrange to meet up in person and catch up. When we met and caught up, I told him that I wanted to make virtual reality shorts. He then proceeded to say that he would fund me for this first project and this is the dream where this all started and how this film ends.
By: Michaella Vu