Kowloon Forest is a unique VR movie that follows five strangers as they try to find intimacy in the backdrop of a changing Hong Kong skyline. It is an 8-minute film where you tag along five unlikely characters who are navigating their way around a Hong Kong in flux. The trailer for this virtual reality movie premiered in late April.
The VR film was set in Hong Kong and is focused on one of the struggles of modern intimacy. The difficulty of finding intimacy and companionship in a city of density with millions of people but where loneliness often seems to pervade is a common theme in modern metropolises. The film leverages on virtual reality to go into the small personal spaces of the characters in the film. Kowloon Forest will premiere on July 5 at the Osage Gallery in Hong Kong.
The film is an antithesis of most of the virtual reality films today that immerse users into wide expansive environments with towering structures and sweeping vistas. Instead, the Kowloon Forest uses scale to immerse the viewer into very small virtual worlds where you will get the experience of being very close and intimate with the characters in VR.
Kowloon Forest will take you into a typical Hong Kong intimate space inside the squashed apartments along with the dense city streets of Hong Kong where you will find yourself in very close proximity to the film’s five key characters. The film director Alexey Marfin has said that he hopes the film will create a new kind of intimacy in virtual reality.
It’s an exploration of the theme of intimacy within a megacity. At the core of Kowloon Forest is about making the viewer feel a certain way within certain spaces. The VR film evokes films that are associated with certain spaces, in this case, a concrete jungle. This makes Kowloon Forest a fairly experiential film which works perfectly in virtual reality rendering.
The first trailer of the film is already available. The Kowloon Forest film promises to provide users with a blend of intimate character studies that is powered by very compelling monologues.
The idea in each scene of the VR movie was to use virtual reality to enter the private world of each of the characters and position the viewer very close-uncomfortably so- to their personal spaces. The “invisible” viewer in the VR film is barely inches from the character and is infringing on their personal space. In real-life, this could be quite invasive but in VR, you have the privilege of observing this from very close-quarters.
Another interesting aspect about the characters in Kowloon Forest is that they are not quite alone and are interacting with other significant others. In fact, the VR film will immerse you right in the middle of monologues or dialogues that they are having with others. There are sequences in the film where a woman is sitting alone in her apartment and staring at her reflection in the mirror or one where you are immersed between a man having a dinner and a streamer on a laptop that is eating next to him.
In the first scene, a woman is taking offer her makeup and the VR rendering immerses you right in the small space between her and her reflection in the mirror. The creators of the VR film used this particular scene to test, choreograph and refine the experience to ensure it was working as envisioned.
The creators wrestled with the 360-degree format for quite sometime to bring out the compelling virtual reality storytelling. The VR film premieres on July 5 in the Osage Gallery in Hong Kong. It will subsequently be showing from July 6 to 28.