Big Rock Creative, the outfit that brought Burning Man (i.e. BRCvr – the official virtual Burning Man event) to AltspaceVR last year, is giving us a little something between burns. The company has announced a day-long film festival to take place on Saturday, February 5, from anywhere with internet.
Big Rock Creative co-founder Doug Jacobson told ARPost about how the event came together and what attendees have to look forward to.
Introducing the BRCvr Film Festival
The BRCvr Film Festival is “a first of its kind.” The free film festival will feature the showing of three documentaries each in its own immersive environment specifically created to bring viewers into the world of the film.
“We looked through the large history of Burning Man-related documentaries and chose these three because they had a mix of topics that highlight a variety of Burning Man topics,” said Jacobson. “Veteran Burners will be excited about the settings we’ve created. VR participants will appreciate the truly immersive elements that invite you to have an active viewing experience.”
Jacobson specified the experience of “VR participants” because the film festival will be accessible via AltspaceVR but also via Zoom. If you’ve watched live VR events on 2D platforms, you may be familiar with 2D viewers only being able to communicate with VR attendees via moderated chat text. BRCvr marketing director Andrew Barrett came up with something better.
“Technically, you can participate in VR headsets, 3D and 2D browsers, all in AltspaceVR, as well as on desktop, tablet, and mobile on Zoom,” said Jacobson. “[Barrett] had assembled a team that developed a method for audio and visual to exist in real time between Zoom and Altspace… Zoom participants will be able to see and speak with VR avatars, and vice versa.”
The Films and Schedule
The structure of the film festival is laid out in three segments: each film will be shown, followed by a moderated Q&A period with relevant artists, and then a DJ’ed afterparty. The film showings, in Pacific Standard Time, are 10 AM, 2 PM, and 7 PM.
First off, Burning Man: Art on Fire, a film By Gerald Fox, “follows the unpredictable journey of the artists who defy reason to bring their massive installations and sculptures to the punishing Nevada desert.”
Next, Larry, A Burning Man Story, a documentary by Profiles In Dust, presents an in-depth look into the life and legacy of Burning Man event co-creator, Larry Harvey.
Finally, TV Free Burning Man presents the story of how TV executive producer and long-time burner, Justin Gunn, painstakingly covered the festival in groundbreaking ways between 2006 and 2008.
“BRCvr was created to bring together Burners and the Burner-Curious from around the world,” Big Rock Creative co-founder, Athena Demos, said in a release shared with ARPost. “We are so excited to share this film festival experience with everyone, however they choose to participate.”
What Inspired a Burning Man Film Festival?
On the last day of 2021’s AltspaceVR Burning Man event, event organizers held an impromptu showing of one of the documentaries which was energetically attended by a packed house. The event inspired Jacobson and Demos to organize a specific day to celebrate the experience through film.
“We realized there was an opportunity and demand for more Burning Man related screenings,” event organizers said in the email. “The more we work on it each day, the more we realize that this film festival is a great way to bridge the gap between what really goes on in the desert and its connection to the virtual community.”
Planning for the event began in December of 2021 and event organizers feel that their experience with bringing the festival to VR (and hosting smaller parties and events in between) has prepared them for the festival.
How to Attend
The film festival is free and links are available at the event website linked above, but attendees are encouraged to register via a Google Form. Finally, in the interview, Jacobson expressed gratitude to the BRCvr community – an organization of volunteers dedicated to making the Burning Man experience as inclusive as possible through immersive technology.