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RecoVRy | Our First Virtual Reality Story Is In Production

recoVRy | our first virtual reality story is in production

Changing Minds is moving closer to completing its first virtual reality story as part of the recoVRy project in collaboration with Titan Ideas.

From 30 August to 4 September Mockingbird was in production on location at Changing Minds (and other mental health services premises) and producer Tatiana Hotere says the production team enjoyed the challenge.

The original Mockingbird has been translated from a one-hour play into an eight minute theatrical, screen script. Written and performed by Lisa Brickell, the screenplay is built around the real experiences of four generations of women from the same family. The four characters, of mixed cultural backgrounds, live in 1910, 1940, 1969 and 2001, and share their journey of post-partum depression and psychosis as well as the discrimination they faced.

“The VR camera tests are looking good and we’re excited to be using cutting edge technology to give audiences a realistic insight on what post-partum depression can be like for women,” Tatiana says.

“It’s a little difficult to visualise, but through VR, their stories are presented similarly to live theatre within a gaming platform. We use directional sound, dark-comic performance techniques and original music to fully engage and interact with the VR participant.”

The different characters within this film help to highlight the similarities and differences, as well as the good and bad, of pre, post and peri-natal mental healthcare over more than a century. They demonstrate why the future of mental health care relies on the continued development of women and family-centred care for optimal health outcomes. The film also shows how the lack or presence of a supportive community influences, negatively or positively, the individual’s chances of recovery.

Once this initial recoVRy story is complete, the team will share it in workshops and at public events to build awareness and experience of what it was like for women admitted into mental health facilities with a diagnosis of psychosis or mania.

The second VR story, which is still in the development stage, is a documentary style production focussing on the real experiences of “Hemi”, with emphasis on his personal spiritual perspective and a kaupapa Māori approach to healing and living with psychosis.Taimi Allan, CEO of Changing Minds, says it’s important to Changing Minds, and project sponsor Like Minds, Like Mine, that these first two virtual reality stories are tested for their impact, hence the two different approaches (theatre and documentary).

“We are interested in finding out not only which story people enjoy more, but whether it is the theatre or documentary style which makes a tangible difference to people positively changing their attitudes and behaviour,” Taimi says.

“We are also interested in the audience’s response to the VR technology itself, as in a world where everyone is time poor and novelty obsessed, we need to explore new ways of creating engaging education.

“This is such an exciting opportunity for us and we are thrilled that we can now use new technology and creative arts to raise awareness about mental health issues in a humane, entertaining  and positive way.

Changing Minds is very grateful to the lived experience heroes of these stories, project funders  Like Minds, Like Mine [a programme managed by the Health Promotion Agency, Te Hiringa Hauora], and technology partners, Titan Ideas – all of whom have made possible for us to bring our concept to  fruition.

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