An immersive experience is an intimate and personal one for the people who go to them. Being part of the story, right in the center of the action, makes it more impactful. The emotional connections are stronger because you are right there, experiencing them with the characters. The twists and turns hit harder, because you can feel their emotional impact on the people around you. And the sets are exquisite, helping you surround yourself in the world that was created specifically for just that moment.
But what happens when the world changes, and immersive performances are no longer possible? What happens when a shift in performance art needs to be made, and made suddenly, in order for the show to go on? Well, if you are E3W Productions, the answer is to fall back on your filmmaking roots and turn their immersive experience WHERE THE OTHERS ARE into a filmed one, so people all over the world can enjoy.
Having now seen both the immersive experience and the filmed version, I can tell you right off the bat that the show is still incredible; it’s got a fantastic story that sucks you in, the cast (the one I didn’t see in person!) is really incredible, and you can get lost in every single detail of the frame. I won’t lie, I was a bit nervous before watching the film, because I was unsure how they were going to pull it off. However, all doubts melted away as the running time began, because this filmed version of the show not only captured the emotional heart of the story but enhanced it.
Sure, some of the heavier toned scenes pack a bit more of a punch when they are playing out right in front of you, and you can feel the tension coming off the actors in waves, but the filmed version of does an excellent job of replicating them as best they can. And some of the physical and audio effects that thrilled me while seeing the show are enhanced even more with the assistance of digital editing.
I watched it with my better half, who did not have the pleasure of seeing the immersive version, and when the credits started to roll, I asked her what she thought. While sad she was unable to see it in person for herself, she thought this filmed version was just as good. She eagerly asked me the other portions of the story that we, as a linear experience, did not get to see, but she hardly missed them while watching.
All in all, WHERE THE OTHERS ARE is definitely worthy of your time, especially if you did not get a chance to see the show in person. It will scratch that immersive itch you have, and it’s a fantastic opportunity for you to see an E3W Productions show if you have not had the pleasure yet.
You can watch it for yourself right now (and I highly suggest you do so) at: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/wheretheothersare
After viewing the film, I had some questions, and thankfully Aaron from E3W Productions was gracious enough to answer them for me.
HorrorBuzz: What was one of the biggest challenges you faced to translate it from immersive show to filmed experience?
E3W: One of the biggest challenges was definitely time. We closed our show after a Thursday night performance, and we knew that if we were going to try to film it we had to do it that weekend. We had only a day or so to source microphones, shot list the entire thing, do camera/lighting tests, and make decisions on reworking sections for film. Then BAM, we were in the RV with a camera and after 3 nights of filming we shut the doors and walked away for good, not really knowing if we had what we needed. Thankfully, our actors Emily and Daniel absolutely KILLED it, and Austin was able to work his editing magic to piece it all together.
Another challenge was the role of the audience. In the live immersive show the audience was right there in the RV with Maggie and Ben, sitting directly next to them, being directly talked to. It was an extremely intimate and powerful experience to be in such tight quarters with this couple as the drama of the night unfolded. We wanted to do our best to emulate that feeling of intimacy on film, to make the audience feel like they were a part of the story even though they weren’t physically there. It was definitely a run and gun experience, but we feel that were able to capture some of the claustrophobic familiarity that was intrinsic to the show. It’s not the medium we intended to tell the story in, but it’s an exciting twist and the closest you can get to actually being in the RV with them. We’re really pleased with how the experience translated to film.
HorrorBuzz: How did you decide what scenes to include and what to exclude?
E3W: We kept pretty much everything from the show for the filmed version. The only places where we cut content were the two one-on-one moments where Maggie and Ben take the audience out of the RV and into the surreal other space. In the live show, one audience member would go with Ben and one would go with Maggie, each experiencing a unique scene that only they would see. We contemplated including all 4 of these unique scenes in the filmed version but opted to only include half of them to keep the final runtime just under an hour, the same length as the live show. We kept the two scenes where Ben and Maggie left the RV because we wanted to break up the flow of the film and let the audience have some breathing time outside the confines of the trailer. Also, those exterior spaces are some of our more heavily production designed sets, and we wanted to make sure to capture them on film!
HorrorBuzz: Were there things you were able to accomplish on film that you would otherwise be unable to do in a live action setting?
E3W: We definitely feel like this show is more powerful when you’re right there in the RV with Maggie and Ben, and we also feel that there is a distinctly ‘immersive-theatre’ vibe to how it was written and produced. This isn’t a typical film, nor was it ever intended to play as such. But as a document of what we were doing in that RV it’s very exciting, and there are several things we were able to accomplish on film that we feel enhance parts of the experience.
We were careful in our shot-listing to plan moments where the actors addressed the audience directly, but also planned moments where the POV fell away into a more traditional film coverage to allow pivotal sequences to play out with a cinematic intensity that isn’t an option in live theatre. The experience of sitting on Maggie’s bed in the back of the trailer with her is unbeatable in terms of intimacy, but with film we were able to get significantly closer to the actors’ faces, even in moments where the audience was positioned further away during the live show.
We were also able to add some visual and auditory effects that weren’t present in the live version. There’s some vocal distortion that our amazing sound mixer C.J. Drumeller added to Ben’s voice towards the end of the show that really enhance the supernatural tone of the climax. And there’s a dance sequence in the middle of the show that we were able to shoot and edit more like a music video. Austin added some simple but striking visual effects to this sequence, and we were able to lean into the surreal, dreamy quality of this moment in a way that was much harder when performing live. This is one sequence we feel actually works better in the film version, which was an exciting discovery to make while on this journey.
HorrorBuzz: Is this something you’d consider doing for future shows (for prosperity and such)?
E3W: Yes! We come from a film background, and we’ve always wanted to jump back into that world. Immersive theatre is where our heart is for now, and it’s a medium we feel much more free and excited to create in. But working on adapting this show to film has been an absolute pleasure. While we are sad that more people were not able to see it the way we had intended, we are so happy to have this experience live on in a more permanent way, and we’re excited by the prospect of reaching a wider audience than we ever would’ve been able to reach otherwise. And considering we were able to film it all in only 3 nights, we definitely will be planning to capture all our future immersive shows in this way!
HorrorBuzz: Final question from us should be an easy one: why are you guys so awesome?
E3W: LOL awww, well we’re glad you think so! We’re just doing our best to adapt to this strange new world and keep on creating under these wild circumstances. We’re excited to share our work with the world, and we hope everyone enjoys. But mostly, we can’t wait to see everyone in person again – in a creepy RV or haunted house or other strange immersive scenario – hopefully sooner than later.
WHERE THE OTHERS ARE is available now for your viewing pleasure. Watch it for yourself at: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/wheretheothersare