Ideas are important, right? Where do they come from and, more importantly, where do they go when we get interrupted by our daily lives? What can we do to get them back?
These are the questions behind Remembering, a short film starring and produced by Academy Award winner Brie Larson and directed by her partner, Emmy-winning director Elijah Allan-Blitz. The Disney+ film explores the themes of imagination and discovery with an extra-added kick of augmented reality (AR).
Starting today, you can hop onto Disney+ and watch Remembering on your TV screen, like any other film you might stream on the platform. With this film, however, you can also pull out your iPad or iPhone, download a quick app, and then hold it up to your TV to unveil a wider world of imagination that spills off the TV screen and into your living room. A waterfall overflows the TV set, a glowing pixie-like character flies around the room, and trees and foliage burst off the screen.
As Larson told Lifewire in a round-table discussion at the Disney Studios in Burbank, California, "This breaks the rectangle."
Ideas in a World of Imagination
The basic story here is that a writer, played by Larson, has an idea, represented by a glowing gold spark. Right when she's about to get it down on paper, the phone rings—the idea is lost. Luckily, it's found by the writer's inner child, played by newcomer Dusty Peak, who then takes the lost idea (and us viewers) through a tour of the world of imagination.
This inner child then shows off the vistas of this world, full of whimsical, magical sights like flying dolphins made of glowing clouds and floating butterflies made of light. That's when you can pick up your iOS device and see the scene expand into the room.
Remembering as an Act of Gratitude
This project began for the two during the pandemic when they felt a need to be creative. Allan-Blitz, having worked in VR before (he won an Emmy for his VR film, "The Messy Truth"), came up with the film's concept quickly. "Maybe twenty minutes," Larson laughed. "Ok, maybe more like an hour."
Larson was giving various kids in her neighborhood art lessons when she met the other human star of the film, Dusty Peak, the child that guides Larson's lost idea through the world of imagination. Allan-Blitz says that Larson came home one day and said, "You have to put this child in a movie." And so they did (and she steals the show).
This breaks the rectangle.
The movie ends on a note of gratitude, said Larson, a feeling of thankfulness for the return of the lost idea and a reconnection to her character's inner child.
Just the Beginning
The movie was created inside Disney's Volume, the same technology used in The Mandalorian for sweeping vistas and virtual sets that actors can see and respond to. The tech team created the visual assets in Unity, a graphics development platform used for high-end video games and, more and more these days, movies and TV shows. The AR tech also involved Unity assets, said Jackson Rogow, Producer of Content & Experiences at Walt Disney Studios. And? It's really only the start.
For Remembering, the future could be an expanded series or even a feature film. For the technology itself, other studios and directors can start seeing the potential and perhaps integrating it into their own projects.
"This could be the bridge to a whole new way of telling stories," said Allan-Blitz. The technology of film itself, from silent to "talkies" to color film—are all new technologies that drive innovation in storytelling.
Interactivity Built In
Imagine a whole new way to view content like this, said Larson. Not only will it change how we watch on our televisions at home, but imagine a movie theater with AR-powered feature films. Better yet, she said, think of how we might go beyond consuming and actually interact with stories like this.
"You could stand and have a bird land on your hand," she said.
Creating stories as an actor, said Larson, is how she processes the world. "I organize life through this stuff," she said. It's also a way to not feel so alone with her feelings, a way to validate her experience.
This interactive tech is perfect for kids, of course. They're less likely to worry about what they should or should not do. "Adults worry if they're going to break something," Larson said, "but kids are like, 'Yeah, that's what the world looks like. That's the right amount of butterflies.'"
If nothing else, you'll be able to connect with Larson's character's experience in Remembering as you explore the world of imagination and a lost idea, one that perhaps—with the right device in front of you—will expand and light up your own living room with the power of imagination (and some AR-tech).