CREDIT: PHILIPP GUELLAND/EPA-EFE/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK
Hugo Weaving, who previously starred in technology trend-setting film “The Matrix,” will head the cast of full-length virtual reality feature “Lone Wolf.” He is joined by “Hotel Mumbai” actress Tilda Cobham-Hervey.
The Australian film is to be directed by Jonathan Ogilvie (“The Tender Hook,” “Jet Set,” “Emulsion”) as a modern-day adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s 1907 novel “The Secret Agent.” Exploring themes of fanaticism and terrorism, the story involves a cluster of anarchists, one of whom is also a police informant, who receive a proposal to attack the Sydney Opera House. Weaving plays a police minister involved in the conspiracy, with Cobham-Hervey as one of the cell members.
The film is set to go into production later this year after completing funding of its $2 million budget. Executive producer is Lee Hubber. An Australian theatrical release in 2019 is set through distributor Label. International sales are to be handled by Level K, a Danish sales firm which has previously represented other Australian film titles.
“This is an incredibly timely story. A film shot entirely as surveillance in objective and POV mode — the character of Stevie incessantly films everything on his phone — plays on our conflicted collective concerns regarding surveillance, i.e. the loss of personal privacy vs. the sense of security in having someone watch over us,” said Ogilvie.
He intends to deliver a 2D and a full-length VR version, allowing the film to claim the title of the world’s first VRfeature movie. The production will use a cluster of lenses to deliver the VR effect, which will create a 3D 200-degree viewing environment that can be accessed through generic smartphone-mounted headsets.
Ogilvie says that Anthony Kierann, GM of festivals and Australian cinema programs at exhibition chain Event Cinemas, has expressed interest in showing both 2D and VR versions of the film. He envisages creating pop-up events in a theatrical environment. Ogilvie and Hubber are also in discussions with Lens Immersive with a view of online VR distribution in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong and mainland China.
With the backing of arts and disability organisation Accessible Arts the production is committed to casting an actor with a disability in the role of Stevie. “Casting a non-disabled actor in a disabled role may have won Oscars in past but in the quest for diversity and authenticity on screen it is time to identify this practice for what it is — the equivalent of performing in ‘black-face,'” Ogilvie said.