Former university students produce virtual reality film series on police-minority relations

MORNING SHOW

URBANA-CHAMPAIGN, Ill.(WCIA) — What if you could put yourself into someone else’s shoes, virtually?

Some former UIUC students created an award-winning, virtual reality film series, shedding a light on relations between police and minorities.

The filmmakers got their start within the walls of the UI computer science building when they first started working on the movie two years ago.

They recently graduated, but now the final product is finished, and the team is marking some big accomplishments off the checklist.

Called The Drive, the movie won awards and recognition at six film festivals, including Indie Film Night and France’s 360 Film Festival.

It’s a 3-part series told through the eyes of a black mother, her son, and a white police officer.

“[It’s] unfortunate, but also surreal that [the movie is] very timely right now, especially with the nation wanting to have these conversations,”says Jewel Ifeguni with YouMatter Studios.

A virtual reality (VR) movie means you can drag the scenery around as it plays for a 360-view.

Ifeguni says she based the stories on real-life experiences. The team also worked with U of I police officers to capture their viewpoints.

“I realized there’s so many other perspectives we don’t cover,” she says. “In order for us to really not only drive the conversation, but [also] translate it into action, we need to be able to be empathetic toward all perspectives…push[ing] us toward action, and hopefully affecting policy change.”

The production team says watching with your phone inside a VR viewer platform is the best way to get the full experience. It’s not necessary to watch, but you can build or buy a cardboard one for $10 or less.

The Drive releases to the public Friday, August 14th on YouTube.

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