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December 09th, 2018 | by Mathieu Gayet

”I want to move forward and dive into the interactivity” - Alexandre Perez (SEANCE 129, SERGEANT JAMES)

Going immersive

Alexandre Perez - I’m a young filmmaker and XR creator based in Paris. After graduating from the ESEC Film School Paris in 2013, and a professional background in several production companies, I embarked on a career in writing and directing. It starts with award-winning shorts and two collaborations with the radio France Inter’s web department.

A. P. - I never imagined making the leap from the world of cinema to the burgeoning world of immersive experiences. And yet the transformation happened three years ago when I first discovered virtual reality, tentatively slipping on a headset to experience a journey into the unknown. It was a eureka moment. I suddenly understood what it was that attracted me to this new medium: the intimate and direct link to individual viewers.

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A. P. - I went on to discover other early virtual reality works and then wrote the script for Sergeant James, my first VR film, which tells the story of the relationship between a small boy and a hidden presence under his bed embodied by the viewer. This year, I made another VR film called Séance 129 about a famous speech given by Georges Clemenceau in the french parliament at the end of WWI.

Traveling through time: a challenge?

A. P. - I think the main challenge was to create an interesting and faithful VR experience about a historical and political speech. The viewer is in a position that allows him / her to be him / herself. A perfect time traveler.

A. P. - It’s all based on a fantasy : we try to restore a past reality and immerse the viewer inside of it. In Séance 129, with Joffrey (my co-author), we wanted to be as respectful as possible basing our script on the official speech and also on newspapers painting different aspects of the moment. We also made a full scan of the 2018 french parliament and the VFX team transformed it in order to bring the viewer back in 1918. But... to be honest, it’s still a distant dream. It’s impossible. I think that our film is about this feeling. I like to see our camera trying to go there, until the last part of the film where the viewer is almost in 1918. But not totally. Just a feeling of 1918.

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Leading the viewer

A. P. - Storytelling, hardware/software, point of view... Everything is connected. But the direct relationship with the viewer is, maybe, my first leitmotiv.

A. P. - I underwent my second transformation. I want to move forward and dive into the interactivity. I’m working on two immersive project in early-development. One of them is called Néphélé. It’s a both VR and AR real-time interactive animation experience with game mechanics where the viewer is a giant made of clouds that helps a tiny little girl to climb a scale model mountain. I already have the support from the CNC and i had the chance to go to Los Angeles last month to talk about it at DevLab18. Presented by RYOT, Oculus, and Kaleidoscope, DevLab18 was a program that brought together VR and AR artists to incubate new projects and explore novel ideas in Los Angeles last month. We had workshops and meetings with wonderful speakers. It was the perfect starter for our little Néphélé...

I do not give up cinema (never). I’m also writing two new short films.

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