After putting the finishing touches on chapters two and three of the “Jailbirds” motion capture VR experience earlier this year, writer/director Thomas Villepoux will next adapt his story of freedom and confinement into a feature film, Variety has learned.
Currently in development, the upcoming feature “Jailbirds” will nearly triple the runtime of a near-completed short that Villepoux and producer Griselda Gentile will premiere at the Cannes Film Market next month. Deploying the same motion capture techniques that Villepoux has honed on its three VR pieces, the two iterations of the “Jailbird” saga will delve even deeper into the work of Belgian cartoonist Philippe Foerster, whose work in the band’s cult magazine comic “Icy Fluid” inspired the recently completed VR series.
“Artistically speaking, the project already exists,” says Griselda Gentile, who produced the various iterations through her Be Revolutions banner. “We’ve already done the creative work on the character designs and the sets. Now we’re just working on [building out] The narrator.”
“We will follow the path that has worked very well so far,” continues Gentile. “The first episode of ‘Jailbirds’ was a hit very quickly, and that allowed us to fund episodes two and three. Then we’ll release the short in a more traditional animated format, and we’ll use those 30 minutes to find funding for the 90-minute feature.
Presented in competition at NewImages and Tribeca in 2021, the VR experience “Jailbirds: Bwa Kayiman” followed two inmates, locked in a dark and sad prison and dominated by a malevolent guard. “Though the light-hearted Booker (Elliot Delage) suffers all the cruelties of the director, the burly Felix (Barry Johnson) lives in unexpected serenity, allowing his imagination to literally carry parts of himself far beyond the walls. from jail.” Variety written at the time.
After a successful launch of the festival, France Télévision and specialist distributor Astrea signed on as financial backers, enabling Villepoux to deliver the next two acts of the series in record time, land Spanish star Victoria Abril for the last chapter and to present the following pieces as world premieres. at SXSW in Austin last month. Abril, winner of Goya, will also return for the next short film.
“Working, as we did, with a real-time game engine allowed me to practically complete the [virtual] camera around my shoulder,” Villepoux says of his process. “I could shoot scenes in this virtual world like on a real set. And once we locked down the motion capture elements and assets, we could shoot the short film into something close to real time.
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