As part of Tribeca Film Festival’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, the prestigious festival has made a historic pivot to debut select films online. Making its world premiere among these offerings is Lutaw, a virtual reality film now playing in the free-to-access Cinema360 immersive program presented in partnership with Oculus (April 17-26).
Lutaw takes viewers into the world of Geramy — a scrappy, budding inventor, who is trying to find a better way to commute to school. Based in the Philippines, this story highlights the students that swim between the small islands in order to travel to the nearest elementary or high schools in their remote areas. The plot is inspired by the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation, which has provided over 4,600 yellow boats to school children to better access education across the Philippines, an archipelago composed of 7,107 islands.
The VR short was created with partners through the Oculus VR for Good Creator’s Lab program with Yellow Boat of Hope. As COVID-19 brought stay-at-home orders to the crew, the project was completed through remote collaboration with team members at Flight School Studio, Chibot VR, Oculus and Yellow Boat contributing from locations around the globe.
The film is directed by Samantha Quick and produced by Michaela Holland with animation by DJ Babylon and Juan Gabriel Fernandez. Spatial audio was created by Matt Hauser and Dan Teicher of Immersive Music and Sound, with additional compositions from Filipino composer Teresa Barrozo. Lutaw also features the painterly and vibrant work of Taiwanese art director Ruby Wang of Flight School Studio.
“It has been an honor to help Lutaw’s creative team and Yellow Boat bring this beautiful story to audiences,” said Wang, who has previously created lush visuals and inventive concepts for innovative game and VR projects such as Island Time VR, St. Jude Hall of Heroes and Dream Academy. “The art style is inspired by the beautiful and courageous people in the Philippines, helping children get to school safely.”
The short’s helmer, Samantha Quick, is an immersive director and creative technologist working in interactive media. She is one of the most prolific VR content creators working, with over 100 bylines in The New York Times; she has also created work for Al Jazeera, Sotheby’s and Doug Liman.
Producer Michaela Holland is an Emmy, Webby and Sheffield Doc/Fest award-winning immersive storyteller — a creative director, producer and project manager who combines experimental content with traditional mediums. Her work has been featured by TIME, Forbes, The Guardian and more.