Venice Film Festival - 

David Hansen, filmmaker : "I used a good tool to be transported back in time"

Interview Lica Cecato - September 15 th
"Jesus VR, The Story of Christ", is the first feature film to be presented in complete wraparound 360-degree virtual reality. David Hansen produced and directed the film. Our correspondent in the International Venice Film Festival met him.

David Hansen- photo D.R.

MicMag : How did you choose to direct and produce this  film about Jesus, a feature-length 360-degree movie ?

David Hansen : I was introduced to the virtual reality and it became very evident that it could be a good tool to be transported back in time. When I thought about where do I want to go back and meet a historical character,  it’s Jesus, more often than not. I remember when I was young, I read the Bible. I grew up a catholic, and I imagined being there at some critical events in his life.  You would go to church and hear stories they will tell you, and as a kid, you idealized how would it have been like. This is the first time that we are giving the viewer that experience and I think we succeed.

MicMag : What about this dichotomy between the newest technique and one of the oldest subjects?

David Hansen : It's a magic blend between the newest technique and the oldest story I could remember.  I believe every time people discover a new device in history, there is an attraction to tell a story about the Bible, maybe it’s the greatest story ever told as it doesn’t get old, and I hope you will find this telling different. I really think it brings out more empathy and compassion for the viewer watching something like this. It's very immediate, you are present, you are there.

MicMag : Are you satisfied with the answer you are getting from people? Is there a curiosity to know why the oldest subject and the newest technique? There is no conflict between the newest and the oldest in the story?

David Hansen : Well, I don’t think there is a conflict. I do think if Jesus knew there was a new way to get out his message to millions of people,he'd have used it right now.  I think there is no better time in history to listen to Christ's words. If it’s a new technical invention that is going to get it out,  so be it.

MicMag : Is there a religious point of view or it is more of a wish for peace to the world, something like this?

David Hansen : I’m not sure. Ultimately, we didn’t stray away from the Bible, the Gospels, they are pretty much as they were written. It was not really an interpretation of the story, there was more in my mind. I think it’s as close as we can get right now to that experience. Obviously some people will have a very big spiritual experience watching it, and some people who might not have an interest in Christ, but I still think they are going to get something from it.

MicMag :  Is you main character, the Christ, Italian, Canadian?

David Hansen : I’ll tell you an interesting story. He is actually Australian, but he lives in London. It’s funny! I watched a million auditions and probably in five seconds I knew he [Tim Fellingham ] was going to be Christ. I felt he believed in the words and the rest there was something special about him. I asked him a couple of weeks before we went into the production if he had any tattoos that we would have to cover up, and he had in Aramaic “To Honour God” and that’s true, and he happens to be a carpenter.

MicMag : Did you have any difficulties, filming in another country, like Italy, in a small Southern town like Matera, which is very traditional?

David Hansen : I didn’t have a lot of difficulties in Italy everyone was warm and giving, receptive, and Matera is a magical place, nothing I could have ever dreamed of, it just seems like a magical place. It’s the perfect place to get in touch with this story and it’s a spiritual place.

MicMag : How is this going to be distributed? Will you need the special glasses all the time? Do you have a sponsor for the glasses?

David Hansen : The glasses are not a problem, Google cardboard is a 10 USD item, as long as you get a smartphone, you can get into virtual reality very inexpensively. The price to enter it is very low. There’s two billion people with smartphones. You will be downloading it, but I think there are other forms to do it. This is year, by Christmas,  it will be ready for downloading into your smartphone and everybody will be able to see it in the Samsung gear or a Google cardboard or Oculos, any platform, so it’s pretty wide.

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