DeadCenter film festival explores VR film tech

The DeadCenter film festival held an immersive, interactive film display in a quiet, low-lit room full of white Virtual Reality headsets. The soft clicks of handheld controllers and quiet conversation filled the round room as photographer Jessey Kollie snapped pictures of the event.

VR headsets line a table, each in their own caddies holding a different film experience. (JESSEY KOLLIE/THE VISTA)

Founded in 2001 in Oklahoma City, the festival holds world premieres and film experiences for five days in June every year. The name comes from the location, with founders marking Oklahoma City as the “deadcenter” of the United States. 

Lance McDaniel, who served as executive director of the festival for ten years, explained a film “called Soul paint. And that is where you create a version of yourself in 3d paint and then you explore it,” he said. 

The VR films bring an immersive experience and a world that participants can fully step into. Last year, the film ‘Body of Mine’ won the Best Virtual Reality Film Award. ‘Body of Mine’ explored themes of gender transition, comfort, and trans identity, showcasing the unique capabilities of a VR experience. 

Juan Trujillo supervises the exhibit while a participant views a film. (JESSEY KOLLIE/THE VISTA)

“What’s cool about it is that it puts you right into it,” said Juan Trujillo, a volunteer helping with VR films.  

For people thinking about volunteering, Trujillo said, “give it a try. And, you know, after you try it, you’ll figure it out. If you like one aspect of it, maybe not everything, there’s, I feel like there’s something here for everyone.”

He said he got involved in order to learn more about the film industry. “I just, I wanted to see how the film industry was working with VR stuff,” he said.

Trujillo emphasized that there is a place for everyone, no matter their level of knowledge about film. “It’s been nice,” he said.

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