On the Sarasota Opera House stage last week, where Sarasota Film Festival President Mark Famiglio’s annual swank dinner was well under way, John Henry Summerour entertained a diverse group of writers and actors with a hilarious performance, his lanky limbs moving in every direction at once. Who knew he had this in him? That afternoon I had the opportunity to meet this award winning filmmaker and Saschka Unseld, a pioneer in virtual reality filmmaking, alumni of the prestigious Nantucket Screenwriters Colony, to talk about their residency at the Hermitage Artists Retreat in Manasota Key, Florida, in a newly formed partnership with the Sarasota Screenwriting Colony for developing film projects and virtual reality storytelling.
Saschka said, “I come from the world of short films, animation mostly. The genre I am working in right now is virtual reality (VR), which is mostly short form narrative so that’s where the fit came in for the jury.”
John explained the unusual program: “We had two weeks at Hermitage culminating in the work at the festival, but then we get more time later to develop our current projects, or new ones. With space and time, nature, surrounded by inspiration, I used my time to lay out the beginning stages of a new script.”
For Saschka, “ The Nantucket Screenwriters Colony started a new program for writing for VR, and asked me to come in as an adviser. I developed a VR script based on my mother’s stories. She lives in Hamburg.”
As to the experience of being removed from the busy world, he noted, “There was a boredom to it, not the usual, I have a million other things I need to do. Then I started writing out of boredom, and realized, even if I didn’t have another deadline coming up, I would do this anyhow. It made the writing really beautiful, less of an exhausting chore. More of, this is what we do.”
John added: “When we get wrapped up in work, it is hard to remember the joy. With all this time and space, we can create because we love it. It is nice to remember this all begins with passion.”