For every movie made, dozens of pictures remain missing forever. A VR series gives directors a chance to tell the story they were never able to bring to the screen. Here is one, with Abel Ferrara.
We’ve started this series here at ProVideo Coalition with the film Catherine Hardwicke never shot. The director tried to make an adaptation of The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey, a cult book of the 70s American counterculture and a precursor of eco-activism. The project never got the support it needed, and the filmmaker accepted that she was never going to be able to tell the story. Then, Virtual Reality came to the rescue…
Now, the story repeats itself, as we pick what is, in fact, the first documentary from this series: Birds of Prey, from director Abel Ferrara. Produced by France’s Atlas V, Arte France, and Albyon Studio, and Britain’s BBC, this episode – Episode 1, in fact – reveals why the story of Birds of Prey never made it to the screen and explains why the director had to give up. Then, again, Virtual Reality came to the rescue…
Not an episode for all ages
Again, the focus of the documentary is the 70’s, a story that would have been the political thriller of Abel Ferrara’s dreams…until it all fell apart. The long-time independent American filmmaker, the neo-noir, provocative director behind movies like Ms. 45 (1981) and Bad Lieutenant (1992), takes us with him on a journey through the heart of his unfinished story based in the 70’s New York City: Birds of Prey.
Although part of the same series, and with the same goal – to take us to the heart of the story brought to life thanks to VR – the approach here is somehow different from the one in Catherine Hardwicke’s documentary, as it reflects the darker tone of the story, in what is a good example of the versatility of VR to tell stories. We are taken into the Birds of Prey story through the custom-designed animations based on Ferrara’s original films’ preproduction material. The director is shot with volumetric cameras and incrusted into the VR experience. He narrates key points of the storyline, why the movie was important for him and why it collapsed.
It’s a show designed for film lovers from all over the world… but it’s not an episode for all ages, as the developers note: this VR episode contains scenes of violent street fights and police violence with guns. This episode also evokes violent protests (fire, weapons, sticks).
A good reason to buy a VR headset
Abel Ferrara’s Birds of Prey is the opening act from the series Missing Pictures and it really is a Virtual Reality experience you should try. The immersion, both visually and in terms of audio is staggering. This 8 minute documentary series gives to some of the greatest directors a chance to tell the story they were never able to bring to the screen. Each artist talks us through the outline of one of his or her unfinished movie, and discloses the reasons why it had to be given up.
The series offers unique encounters with great directors and an overview of films whose production was baffled by a succession of misadventures. It makes the invisible visible by paying a tribute to these unborn works. The documentary Abel Ferrara’s Birds of Prey, which has made it to a series of film festivals around the world, is free, a good reason, among many others, to buy a VR headset and discover this other way to explore the world of movies.
The VR documentary, compatible with Steam VR, needs a Windows 10 computer with 8GB RAM and an Intel Core i5-7600K with a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080. And it’s all FREE and available for different VR headsets – and not just Meta’s – through platforms as Steam of Viveport. It’s also available on YouTube.