Mr. Chang arrives to his “Spiritual Temple,” a place that represents one’s destiny. To solve his marital crisis and financial problems, he summons his guardian – The Thunder God. They attempt to tidy his life, which turns out to be a big mistake… with hilarious consequences.
Taiwan • VR360 • 10 min • Fantasy Comedy • Color • 2017
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
John Hsu is interested in digital culture, social technology, comedy and sci-fi films, with a fun and satirical sense of humor. His first VR comedy short, Your Spiritual Temple Sucks, was officially selected by Sundance Film Festival New Frontier 2018. Working with a humorous approach to social commentary in mind, he has been creating work that resonates with the cyber generation. In 2018, he started working on a feature film, an adaptation of an internationally distributed Taiwanese Indie Game, Detention, which won him the Best New Director and Best Adapted Screenplay of Golden Horse Award.
What if by changing your spiritual temple, you can change you life? Are we going to live happily ever after? With the natural fit between this traditional Taoist ritual and VR, I want to explore this out-of-body experience, with tons of jokes.
Q1: What is a Spiritual Temple, and can you explain more about the Taoist Ritual to our international audiences?
A: There’s a traditional Taoist Ritual in Taiwan called “Guan Luo Yin” which means “Observe The Afterworld”. In the ritual, you go to an actual temple and get blindfolded with a piece of red cloth. The master of the temple then puts you into a trance, like hypnosis, and takes you to the afterworld to see your dead relatives or visit your “spiritual temple” – a place that reflects your destiny in real life. (Ex. If the lamp inside the spiritual temple is too small or too dark, it means your fate is getting dark too; if your bed in the bedroom is messy, it means your relationship is having a problem.) You can ask the master to summon your patron saint and change the outlook and interior of your spiritual temple, to improve your quality of life in the living world.
Q2: How did you first become involved in VR? What made you decide making Your Spiritual Temple Suck with VR?
A: I am one of the early adopters of consumer VR devices since 2016. Being fascinated by how powerful and effective VR is to take audiences to any place created by storytellers or game developers, I jumped right in when I finally got a chance to play with VR narrative, and the result is “Your Spiritual Temple Sucks” .
Thematically, since the nature of this blindfolding ritual (See Q1) is very similar to the nature of VR, that gave me the idea to make a VR film about this ritual, in a comedic way.
Q3: What was your experience shooting a VR short film and working with the cast and crew to bring this immersive experience.
A: It was a lot more complicated, yet super fun. The language of VR is very different with traditional film narrative. Besides the fact that you can no longer block a scene, the distance between audience and actors are much closer than cinema or theater, so the intensity of performance and expression need to be adjusted too. To reach a certain level of emotion, our team experimented with a lot of different methods, either to help the audience get more immersed, or simply as a funny distraction.
Q4: What’s the technical difficulty during the entire production, and how did you over come it?
It was relatively unhindered during shooting, but then it got more complicated in post-production. Color-grading and VFX took a lot of time because 1. the 360 omni-direction environment and 2. we needed to examine the result inside the HMD. And since we shot the film in 8K, it took even more time in post- production. Also dealing with the sound format for spatial audio can be tricky too. Luckily most of these problems were solved by doing a series of try and errors, and we have a great team to work with.
Q5: What’s your next project, and will you be making more VR films?
I’m working on my first feature “Detention” right now. It’s a psycho-horror adaptation from a well-known Taiwanese video game with the same title, and the production will start in 2018. Besides, there are also 2 projects in early stages I’m working on. One of them is called “Rest In La Paz” which is a fantasy comedy about the afterworld and the other one is “Meta”, a trans-media narrative project about the future world that’s heavily connected with MR (mixed reality) technology.
And yes, after “Spiritual Temple” there are still a lot of ideas I want to play with, using VR, so I’ll definitely make more VR films / experiences in the future.
Produced by Serendipity Films
CO-PRODUCED BY FUNIQUE VR STUDIO
Producer Estela Valdivieso Chen
Co-Producer Pu Yuan Cheng
Director of Photography Wayne Lo
Production Designer Liao Huei-li
Stylist Esther Yang
Technical Team Funique VR Studio
Audio Post Production Aacross Studio
Original Score Composed and Produced by Owen Wang
Taiwan • VR360 • 10 min
Fantasy Comedy • Color • 2017
Shooting Format Stereoscopic 3DVR, 8K per eye
Screening Format Available in 4K and 6K Stereoscopic 3DVR
Headset Available with Samsung Gear VR, HTC Vive and Acer MR.