Pioneering Women Are Leading the Way in VR Filmmaking
By Dayna Evans
The message from this year’s Oscar and Golden Globe nominations is clear: Even in 2020, the traditional filmmaking world is still run by and made for men. While in some cases, it seems women’s contributions to film are finally being supported, and a supposedly safer, more diverse Hollywood is emerging, not a single female director was nominated for either prestigious award.
The outcry was swift, but many women creators are choosing to abandon traditional filmmaking altogether to be part of shaping a new industry — the emerging field of virtual reality (VR) films.
“Because of the formative nature of the industry, it still offers opportunity for women,” says Shari Frilot, chief curator at Sundance’s New Frontier program. “It hasn’t been clamped down by gatekeepers and middle men.”
Filmmakers, directors, artists, activists, and journalists who are women are getting to exercise their talent and creativity in a field where there are no established players or power structures. At this year’s Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, nearly one-third of the projects featured as part of the New Frontier program for technological innovation in film — which includes VR — were directed or led by women.
“The field is coming of age in a time where we’re thinking about gender equity, racial equity, geographic representation, and LGBTQ rights,” says Joanna Popper, HP’s global head of virtual reality for location based entertainment. “An HP core value is creating technology that’s representative of our society, so it’s important that we work with and support representative voices.”
Meet eight influential female filmmakers who are laying the groundwork for a new filmmaking culture in VR, where viewers virtually step into the films for a truly immersive experience. Half of the women below created or exhibited their VR films on HP VR technology or with other HP support. Their projects span from the investigative to the abstract; the playful to the serious — but all of them as impactful and distinctive as their creators.