Capture the Truth of the Space: Joe Hunting on We Met in Virtual Reality | Interviews

In an interview with RogerEbert.com, Hunting talked about his film’s influences, such as “Paris is burning,” the use of Vance Joy’s “Riptide” and the soothing connection that VR offers.

There are quite a few stories and people you have spoken to. How did you decide who to focus on in this world?

The decision to choose the subjects had many different inspirations, but the key for me was looking for voices that could connect with people. Not only in the VR audience, people who have tried VR and know what that technology is, but also people who have never tried it before and could relate to these people and relate to their stories. And I felt the subjects that are in the documentary: Jenny, IsYourBoidragon heart, Dust Bunny, Toaster and others – they all had a story and a voice that all audiences could connect with. That was really the key to my decision. But I interviewed different people around VR chat and immersed myself in about eight different communities. So it is definitely a journey of patience and finding the right people. And I feel very grateful that the community allowed me to do that.

What kind of reluctance, if any, was there among subjects to participate? I would think that on a platform that affords some anonymity, this might have been a bit difficult?

I wouldn’t say it was difficult. Not to pat myself on the back, but for me, my approach to the film was always, as you would approach a live action documentary, to always be very transparent with everyone involved in the film: What I was doing and how I was going to represent their stories in the documentary. So when we met subjects and had the intimate conversations that we see in the film, we were always on a level, the same level of anonymity and trust and understanding of where this footage can go and how it will be used. I think it was extremely important in this scenario. Maybe more so than if you were doing a live action piece. Because it’s harder to understand where this filmmaker is coming from—Who is this instructor? And where are my words going?

Because you know, I’m not there and traveling to them, showing up with my real face and showing them the footage after we’ve shot it and showing them the rest of the crew. It’s just me as an avatar. So that was really important to me, ethically. Fortunately, I didn’t receive any pushback because of it. And I think that also comes with transparency and honesty. But I can say that most of the subjects, if I had asked them to do this documentary and have done what we did in real life, most of them would have said “no”. It’s the fact that it was in VR that made them feel comfortable and allowed them to share their stories openly.

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