Posts published in 2014

Oculus and Storytelling

There is a myth surrounding one of the Lumière brothers’ first films in 1896 of a train arriving into a station. The astonished audience, not accustomed to watching a moving picture, ran to the back of the room in terror at the oncoming train.

Whether or not this tale is true, it highlights the profound way in which a new art form can interact with the primordial human psyche. Rarely do we see radically new formats emerge, but we recognize them when we see them. As one of the earliest users of the Oculus DK1, it was apparent when I first put on my Rift that I was quite literally looking at the future. Storytelling in virtual reality is still in its infancy, but it represents an exciting new medium of artistic expression. It is a revolutionary departure from the moving pictures of today.

While these developments will naturally take time, the acquisition of Oculus by Facebook is exciting news for VR storytellers. It is a historic day, and I’m proud to be a part of the incredible Oculus team. I look forward to playing a part in realizing this next great sea change in storytelling.

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A Lesson

This week, we are releasing the final cut of Divided Families to the wild via a preview screening at New York’s Korea Society.

This has been an incredible multi-year journey for the 115 people who have worked directly on this project, the dozens of divided families we interviewed and the hundreds who have contributed to our fundraisers and Kickstarter. This moment could not be more timely. North Korea is increasingly in the global psyche, whether in the form of perennial nuclear threats or bizarre rants from faded athletes.

Life moves quickly along, and certain markers give one the chance to reflect on lessons learned over the years. Here is one related to Divided Families.

I once heard the founder of a multi-billion dollar startup say that in colleagues, character matters more than intelligence or any other factor. This made sense at the time, but I don’t think I fully appreciated it until working with people as fundamentally good as the folks at Divided Families. While I have found that money is often not the primary motivator for some of the best people, at least at a startup, one has equity and its promises to help convince someone it may be worthwhile investing their talents. But given the spotty financial performance of most independent films, financial incentives are rarely a large part of the recruiting equation.

In that light, the high level of talent and integrity in the Divided Families team is remarkable. The shared vision to help Korean divided families who have been separated for over half a century has fueled our drive for years. While there have been many bumps (and learning lessons) along the way, I’m proud to have contributed my part to bring this film into reality.

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