Get Your Bard On (HFF15 Dispatch #3)

on Tuesday, Jun. 23rd

Our coverage of the 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival continues.

Somehow my Fringe this year has become increasingly haunted by The Bard of Avon.

This is not a difficult proposition. Fringe theatre festivals are often hotbeds of reinterpretations of Shakespeare. For starters the plays are in the pubic domain, so you don’t have the good folks at Samuel French breathing down your neck. Since just about everyone knows the broad details of Shakespeare’s work it’s possible to riff on Will while leaving out the details. Which is perfect for the hour-or-so length of Fringe shows.

Yet the crop of Shakespearean inspired works at the 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival doesn’t limit itself to anything approaching a conventional reimagining. I’ve already discussed Rogue Artists Ensemble’s Shakespeare(ish) in a previous piece, and written about Capital W’s Hamlet-Mobile. Since then I’ve had more time inside the Hamlet-Mobile van, and I’ve taken in two more shows that draw inspiration from the English language’s most famous poet.


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E3: Perpetual Tomorrowland

on Friday, Jun. 19th

The thing you have to remember about the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo which takes place in Los Angels every year is that it’s a time machine. Oh, I know that it is set up as a trade show—the main stage for the multi-billion dollar video game industry—where buyers from major retailers go to get a handle on what will be on their store shelves for the next few holiday seasons.

But that’s not where all the heat gets generated, and it’s far from the messaging that gets blasted out onto every blog, Twitch channel, and mainstream news source.

No, E3 is all about the future, and an increasingly in-the-future one at that.


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Promo Image: Annie Lesser

‘Getting To Know You’ – An Intimate Immersive Experience at the Hollywood Fringe

on Thursday, Jun. 18th

The 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival is in full swing.

Let me start off these notes with some qualifications: Getting To Know You isn’t a highly polished immersion machine. It’s a show at the Hollywood Fringe, and as such it shares some of the quirks of the best Fringe shows: experimental in nature and held together as much with sheer will and charisma as anything else.

There’s work to be done before I’d hold up Annie Lesser’s work as an exemplar of the intimate-interactive subgenre of immersive theatre, but this is Lesser’s first immersive rodeo and for a freshman on the immersive scene the writer shows incredible promise. It doesn’t hurt that the intimate-interactive subgenre—which puts the “one on one” style experience front and center—is my favorite. Every experiment with this form gets my undivided attention.

In a moment here I’ll get into a moderate analysis of the work, but if you’re looking for a recommendation the following will have to suffice. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys interacting with actors in scenes then Getting To Know You is going to be up your alley. That’s the sum total of the interactivity in the piece: audience members sit in a chair and are visited by the performers in a kind of round robin. The actors have a conversation with each audience member, a small slice of their life, tied around a thematic fear. (more…)

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Promo Pic via Capital W

Look for the Van! Hamlet-Mobile @ The Hollywood Fringe (#HFF15)

on Monday, Jun. 15th

Continuing our coverage of the 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival.

When I head that Lauren Ludwig and Monica Miklas, two of the producers of the perennial Fringe favorite Lost Moon Radio were taking a year off from that show to produce something else I was intrigued. When I found out that it was a series of pop-up performances based on Hamlet centered around a van?

I was ecstatic.


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Ralph Echemendia

Spoiler Alert: Hollywood Isn’t Taking Cyber Security Seriously (LA Film Fest)

on Monday, Jun. 15th

Tonight at the Los Angeles Film Festival, squeezed in between movies and red carpet events, a symposium on Cyber Security is being held at the Grammy Museum. It’s a topic that should be on everyone’s mind, and one that you’d think that Hollywood, in light of the infamous hack of Sony Pictures last year would be taking incredibly seriously.

Not so says security expert Ralph Echemendia, who will be presenting at the symposium and talking on the round table that follows. I spoke with Echemendia last week about how the big studios deal with what’s known as Operational Security (OpSec), and what he had to say shocked, but I can’t say completely surprised me.


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7th annual

A Night At The Hollywood Fringe (HFF15 Dispatch #2)

on Saturday, Jun. 13th

The 2015 Hollywood Fringe is in full swing.

Sometimes the best show you’re going to see on a given night at the Fringe is the one you didn’t plan on.

A little background the regulars can skip: the Hollywood Fringe Festival is the annual, un-curated, theatre festival that takes place in and around Hollywood’s Theatre Row. Performers and troops from around the Southland, across the country, and even from overseas make their way here to spend three weeks in June making and seeing theatre. It’s quite the party. Occasionally we even dip into the sublime.


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Promo Photo: Hamlet-Mobile (Capital W)

Ladies & Gentlemen: Start Your (Hollywood) Fringing

on Friday, Jun. 12th

The Hollywood Fringe Festival has begun.

For the past five years every June in Hollywood—the actual neighborhood of Hollywood, not the metaphorical condition called Hollywood—has meant one thing: Fringe. The Hollywood Fringe Festival, to be precise, which already lays claim to be ing the largest Fringe theatre festival west of the Mississippi.

This past weekend saw the beginning of the previews for Fringe, and I took in a couple of shows. As always I’m on the lookout for more experimental theatre, the kind of work that transcends traditional formats and speaks to the mash-up era that we live in. Since that kind of work is hard to advertise without either sound like a madman or a hype machine it is difficult to suss out the wondrously strange from those who need masks to fit in with the real freaks.

Fringe Festivals are at their best when they work as incubators of fresh talent and ideas, and the Hollywood Fringe has become a vital part of the Southland’s artistic ecosystem in a short time. The success of the festival is proof that there is a thirst in LA for broad spectrum of live performance.

My own hunger, however, grows more particular every year.


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L.I.V.E. Center concept art by Syd Mead for Landmark Entertainment Group

The Next Great Theme Park? Your Face

on Monday, Jun. 8th

(Bonus fun: the concept art that is running with this article? It’s by Syd Mead, the guy who designed Blade Runner.)

As we’ve been watching the Virtual Reality market spin up over the past few years the spotlight has almost entirely been on hardware. When you consider that the first heavy-duty consumer hardware isn’t on store shelves yet this makes a lot of sense.

Back in January we hit the point in the hype cycle where the content going into all these head mounted displays became important. In fact, as CES opened it was feeling downright sparse. Luckily the dam broke at Sundance a few weeks later as Oculus announced they had started their own story studio. Since then we’ve had even more announcements from all kinds of players.

What’s clear is that the VR market is opening up all kinds of doors, bringing in talent not just from the usual suspects—game studios and media conglomerates—but from indie creators and even more unexpected corners.

Take an announcement that might have slipped by you today, amidst all the Apple Music talk and Epic Games unleashing a VR tech demo: a veteran themed entertainment company—the people who designed Jurassic Park: the Ride and Terminator 2 3D—have plans to leap into VR with both feet.


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LA Music Video Festival founders Sami Krigstein and Colleen Curlin.

Music Video Heads Rejoice: Submissions Open For 2015 LA Music Video Festival

on Wednesday, Jun. 3rd

Okay, okay, we slept on this for a second, but we are honor-bound to remind you that submissions are open for the  2015 LA Music Video Festival through June 30th. The official categories this year are: Narrative, Non-Narrative, Student, Unofficial, and Animated.  Submissions go through Withoutabox, which might be familiar to you on the festival set. The entry fee is $20.

Every year the crop of videos at the festival has gotten better and better. I honestly can’t wait to see what comes in this year. (Disclosure: I’ve been a screener for the festival for the past couple of years. Don’t send *me* videos directly, tho, that will only backfire on you. In fact, pretend I don’t exist.)

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Source: VRLA

From Humble Beginnings VRLA Goes Big With This Summer’s Expo

on Monday, Jun. 1st

Two years ago the first Virtual Reality Los Angeles meetup began as a modest affair, at least by Hollywood standards. A volunteer group of virtual reality enthusiasts assembled via Reddit by USC student Cosmo Scharf took over the motion capture stage of Digital Domain. They gave a hundred curious souls a glimpse into the exponentially accelerating world of virtual reality.

Flash forward to today, when the Meetup group has long sense evolved into The Virtual Reality Foundation and are announcing their next VRLA Expo, this time at the Los Angeles Convention Center and with a target capacity of 3000 people.


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Gumroad Rentals H

Rent Video Straight From Social Media Via Gumroad

The people who brought the “Buy Now” button to Twitter are going all-in on film distribution.


Siegel's NOME meditation machine.

Hacking Consciousness: Silicon Valley’s Next Frontier

Is there something that lies beyond the quantified self movement?

Detail from the cover of Snow Crash.'

Bright, Bold Future: Magic Leap Has Hired The Godfather of The Metaverse

There’s a rapturous term thrown around by VR enthusiasts: “The Metaverse.” It is a term that comes from the seminal Neal Stephenson science fiction novel Snow Crash, where it described a kind of embodied virtual reality.


In the looming battle of AR and VR the prize is your mind.

Let’s talk about augmented reality versus virtual reality shall we?

Corey McCall with the video game controller that measures the level of excitement in the player. Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service

These Game Controllers Will (One Day) Read Your Mind

A version of this story airs on NPR/WBUR’s Here & Now.