A user experiences These Sleepless Nights at the 2019 Venice Film Festival.
THE NEXT AMENDMENT
Edward Saatchi was the co-founder of Oculus Story Studio from 2013-2017. There his studio won an emmy for the VR narrative, Henry. His new company, Fable, recently won another for Wolves in the Walls, based on Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean’s children's book, and featuring an AI powered virtual being named Lucy.
Saatchi lives in San Francisco in the Bay Area, where over 35,000 people are homeless, making it the third largest homeless population in the country, following New York and South Florida. 70% of these homeless people are unsheltered and living on the streets. Saatchi decided to commission a new XR experience, These Sleepless Nights, and to create The Next Amendment, in order to raise a million dollars to fund policy research projects and housing efforts related to “the right to shelter,” and "housing first." Directed by Gano Arora, These Sleepless Nights premieres today at the Venice Film Festival.
Saatchi has been very inspired by the Housing First movement. "Housing First" means instead of providing housing as an incentive (for sobriety, mental stability, positive social behavior), the state provides housing first, which provides the stability to help with other problems as well as centralized access to social care.
A good example project that Saatchi wants to raise money for is Oakland’s Tuff Shed project which houses homeless people in "community cabins." Instead of the dangers on the street, homeless people are given a baseline stability of a small insulated cabin where they can store their belongings, sleep, and come and go as they please. In total these are small communities of up to 50 people; with 2 meals a day, showers and electricity. Since beginning the project, Oakland is investing millions more as it sees good signs in transition from homelessness.
The Next Amendment commissioned Gabo Arora (The Last Goodbye) to create These Sleepless Nights. By interviewing people at all sides of the eviction process - movers, judges, the evicted - the piece dramatically illustrates the nature of the homeless problem and its possible solutions. These Sleepless Nights is based on Matthew Desmond’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Evicted, one President Obama and Bill Gates’ top books of 2017. The XR experience is a mixed reality documentary that uses a Magic Leap AR HMD to allow visitors to listen, connect and engage in new ways with those on the frontline of America’s complex homeless crisis. Composer Philip Glass contributed a haunting score.
Following its debut in Venice, These Sleepless Nights will be adapted into a location-based smartphone AR experience which anyone can experience using an iPhone, first in San Francisco and then Washington, DC. The app will allow people to view the piece and immediately donate to right to shelter projects.
Users' hands within the experience help them navigate through the story.
THE NEXT AMENDMENT
“Housing first and a right to shelter just means lifting the lowest level to which we can fall - and it is achievable. The most important element is (through trials in small cities and towns, through policy papers on how this could be done cost effectively, through fundraising) to build confidence that a solution is possible” says Saatchi.
In These Sleepless Nights, making use of augmented reality and spatial computing, one is able to navigate their own journey through these stories and conduct their own experience which Saachi hopes will connect with donors. Arora says These Sleepless Nights tries to bring nuance and a new perspective on the eviction crisis - a national situation we can no longer keep sleeping through.”
Those who wish to get involved should email firstname.lastname@example.org.