May 2016 – I am standing in the line to enter Cannes’ Palais de Festivals where one of world’s most renowned filmfestivals is being held for the 69th time. As the security is scanning my bag, they ask me to remove ‘that weird looking object’ from my bag. As I pull out my Virtual Reality Headset, the security laughs and allows me to pass.

Almost a year ago I finished my latest film ‘Zero’, in this short Sci-Fi Suspense piece I forced myself to make the most out of the low budget and short time-format. As part of my yearly routine, I submitted the film as part of Cannes’ Court Métrage (mostly known in English as the Short Film Corner), and I was happy to learn that Zero was one of the 1500 selected films. The Court Métrage is a meeting place on Cannes where young filmmakers get the opportunity to see each other’s films on provided computer screens. Unfortunately I don’t feel that that’s how films are meant to be seen. We need a screen. A big screen.

The short-film ‘Zero’ – which was screened using a VR-headset on the Cannes Filmfestival

This is why I decided to experiment with Virtual Screenings using a Samsung Gear VR headset in combination with Oculus’s virtual Cinema. By allowing people to see my short film on a big virtual screen, they have the experience of actually sitting in the cinema. Little did I know that this experiment would help my film gain this much more attention.

Together with my production company’s colleague and the main actor I choose a spot in the Palais where people could see us use the VR. And under a minute after testing the Headset, people started lining up. The fact that people were able to see a film in VR gained so much attention that people had to wait in line, up to half an hour. Screening our film this way has been a dream as the attention about the VR worked in our favour as everyone wanted to see our film.

It was magical to be able to speak personally with every viewer. After finishing the film the viewer often sticked around to either share their opinion with me (the director) or see the other viewers’ reaction. And this is what I find the most appealing about our experiment. The amount of personal contact you are getting with the audience is great, as I was able learn a lot from their stories and opinions. It was like having a short Q&A with all the visitors.

Do I advise everyone to bring VR-Headsets to every filmfestival instead of arranging real screenings? No.

Do I advise everyone to bring VR-Headsets to every filmfestival instead of arranging real screenings? No. I believe nothing beats the actual big screen. Nevertheless in our situation we gained a lot of attention, showed our film to a lot of viewers and got to meet some great people. And that is precisely why I showed my normal 2D short film as a VR-experience on Cannes 2016.

Lastly I would like to give another special thanks to the lovely cast and crew of Zero for making this film a reality.

Zero's project page