Interactive

INTERACTIVE

My interactive cinema project, HERadventure, is a sci-fi project that I directed and co-created with my daughter HaJ. It features a reluctant female superhero from the planet Xamtha whose name is HER. She accidentally falls to Earth and ends up discovering the truth about an evil Dark Force that is eating away at her planet. My students at Spelman College were the inspiration behind the making of the work. Rarely do we see sci-fi movies featuring women of color, let alone one that becomes a superhero! www.heradventure.com

What makes the movie interactive is that midway through you as the viewer can join forces with Her to fight the Dark Force. The movie highlights social issues that impact the lives of women and girls globally. HERadventure aims to empower them through game play.

Photographed primarily in a green screen space, there are over 350 visual effects in the movie and almost 100 people were hired to help make it. Movies with lots of visual effects are expensive and difficult to produce with limited funds.  Most Hollywood visual effects movies cost over $200 million. HERadventure was made for $100,000 with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

All of the technical work however is serving the needs of the story, which highlight social issues that impact the lives of women and girls globally: bullying because of sexual orientation, gender discrimination, date rape, domestic violence and sex trafficking.

I even took things in the physical environment and incorporated them into the digital environment.

 

The idea of interactive storytelling is something that I’ve been exploring since the late 90s.

EXAMPLES
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  • With film historian Vinicius Navarro navigating my project on the digital media tabletop
  • Flying Over Purgatory 1 – an interactive installation with films
  • CrazyQuilt Sightings, an interactive film on the tabletop about survivors of Hurricane Katrina
  • Flying Over Purgatory 2, an interactive theater production with film about truth and reconciliation
  • HER, an interactive sci-fi story on the tabletop with film
Finally in 2002, I had a chance to create an interactive multi-media stage play based on my feature film script Fly Over Purgatory. I adapted the script for theater. It starred the legendary actor Ruby Dee.  It is a memory piece set in Philadelphia in the Civil Rights era of the 1960s and in post-Apartheid South Africa in the 1990s. There is a cast of characters across the two continents, including a ghost, and several languages are spoken. The stage play incorporates rear screen projection for memory scenes allowing for the illusion of onstage characters interacting with projected images as well as the projected images responding.  Behind the stage technicians were working with a computer to help create the illusion. While in graduate school at Georgia Tech, I explored the idea of interactive storytelling further.  I began by adapting part of Flying Over Purgatory within a large female sculpture, which I designed to include two monitors. In front of the sculpture is a hand wired with a modified RFID reader.  Objects that belong to people in the story are placed around the sculpture.  If you put an object in her hand, the video story related to the object is displays on the monitors. The project Crazy Quilt Sighting was an interactive story about a Hurricane Katrina survivor. It was designed for interaction on a digital media tabletop. As you placed different objects on the tabletop video stories appeared. Designing stories for the interactive digital media tabletop expanded how I was beginning to rethink filmmaking.  Engaging with the stories through touch or by moving physical objects was bringing the notion of the tangible back into my digital world. I created a prototype called Making Beauty. For this project I built my first portable digital media tabletop. 

The production was an interactive biography about my mother and inspired my TEDxPeachtreetalk.