Collisions is Fledgling’s latest grantee within our Special Initiative on Emerging Forms of Documentary Storytelling. As we’ve shared, we have been thinking carefully about virtual reality as a storytelling form – where it is now and how it will evolve as technology advances and artists and filmmakers continue to embrace and test its potential.
Collisions is a project that seeks to immerse us in a world and a story that we otherwise may not have access to. It is a virtual reality journey to the land of indigenous elder Nyarri Morgan and the Martu tribe in the remote Western Australian Pilbara desert. Nyarri’s first contact with western culture came in the 1950’s via a dramatic collision between his traditional world view and the cutting edge of Western science and technology. Reflecting on this event, Nyarri offers his perspective on the Martu way to care for the planet for future generations.
As our first grant to a VR project, it met several criteria that are important to us. First, the story and approach that the director and producers shared resonated deeply and we were confident in their ability to deliver. They also had a strong team in place that included Producer Nicole Newnham as well as artist and Director Lynette Wallsworth, who was connected to the Martu community, having been invited by them to collaborate on a project in 2012. Also on board was award-winning Executive Producer Cori Shepard Stern, innovative technology partners, and a strong team focused on impact. Particularly impressive was the inclusion of Associate Producer Ngalangka Nola Taylor, a Martu artist and storyteller, whose husband Nyarri is featured in the film, and Curtis Taylor, Nyarri’s nephew who worked with the director.
Another element we consider is the social impact potential. One of the big questions for us around VR projects, particularly those social impact goals, is how they will reach the key audiences important to their impact goals. Collisions stood out in this respect. It was focused on shifting the consciousness of world leaders around land rights, resource management and climate change. With partnerships in place with the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland as well as with Landesa, we were convinced that it was poised to prompt meaningful discussion and action around these issues. And, the premiere at the World Economic Forum allowed them to reach and engage a very powerful and important audience who have the capacity to influence how we address these issues.
Finally, the project offered a terrific opportunity for us to learn and help support a committed and bold vision for how immersive storytelling can be used. We are thrilled by the response to the project and early reviews and look forward to sharing more over the coming weeks and months.