Be Mine is a 30-minute, 180- and 360-degree immersive slasher VR experience that stars Peyton List (Cobra Kai), Inanna Sarkis (Seance) and Alanna Ubach (Euphoria). Written by Eli Roth and directed by Adam MacDonald (Pyewacket) the special premiered in Meta Horizon Worlds and Meta Quest TV and follows Becca, a college senior who's going to throw the best Valentine's Day party ever. There's just one caveat: everyone invited is secretly there to help Becca catch her Valentine's Day stalker — an anonymous maniac in a Cupid mask who kills any man that gets close to her with a bow and arrow.
But this Valentine's Day will be slightly different as everyone is ready to turn the tables on the killer that walks among them. With the help of the police, her sorority sisters and the fraternity next door, Becca and the party fight back to stop the carnage and uncover the mysterious secret behind a bloody Valentine's Day massacre. Roth joined us to chat about his latest foray into virtual reality and future hopes and plans for the medium.
What made you want to do this story specifically in the VR space?
I had such a great time making Haunted House: Trick-VR-Treat, and we got to see what worked and what didn't. Every time I do a short film like this, I want to push the tech a little farther, and whatever rules I set up for the film, I break on the next one. I was really writing for VR from an experienced point of view this time. I saw what worked in Trick-VR-Treat and could really build on it. A lot of happy accidents from the first one were things we could do in the next one. And that will continue if we're lucky enough to do more.
This is your second foray into producing for VR, did you learn anything on your Haunted House: Trick-VR-Treat that you were specifically able to apply to this production?
Absolutely. I saw that you could edit and cross-cut much more than I realized. I assumed it would be disorienting, but really, it's not when you're following the characters, and it's done correctly. I actually discovered this by editing the BTS for Trick-VR-Treat. I wasn't following any rules, just cutting around, and suddenly I realized that the cross-cutting was working way more than I thought it would. In Trick-VR-Treat I treated the camera as a character. You, as the viewer, are part of it, but for this one, we just shot it like a straightforward narrative, and it really worked. Adam MacDonald did a brilliant job, as did the cast and crew.
Can you tell us about some parts of the process that are different when you're creating for VR vs. creating a non-immersive movie?
You don't shoot coverage the same way. The wide shots capture so much that you can let the scene breathe in a way you can't with regular narrative 35mm. Also, the close-ups don't look great in VR. You need the 180 lenses, which warp the face slightly, so you have to be very careful when and how you use them. They can be done, but if you go too too close, it suddenly turns into a fisheye lens. But you have so much more frame to play with. A great example of writing for that is the party. We just filled every corner of the frame with action so you can look all over and see different things every time. And we played with slow motion and moving the camera a lot more. It was really fun.
So far, these have been thirty-minute experiences. Do you think anything longer than that would lend itself to the VR experience, or for right now does it feel like that's sort of the sweet spot?
Right now, 30 minutes feels right, and it works for Horizon Worlds. I think once the goggles get lighter and you can have it on for longer, we'll see longer movies.
Aside from lighter goggles, what would it take for you to want to do something like a 60-minute experience? Is it a matter of technology, time, budget, something else?
Everything. You don't cover it the same way. Also, I don't know what that last 30 minutes is like right now wearing the headset. But it's really a cost-per-minute issue. We could tell a story that's 60 minutes, but at that point, it almost feels like it should be a feature.
What are you most excited about in the VR space?
I really want to try shooting one of these in 3D. It's possible. But the post-production is much longer. It's a lot more data, and if you do VFX, it's complicated, but it can be done. That would be my dream, 3D VR horror. The possibilities are endless.
You can still join the party even if you don't have a Meta Quest headset, as the experience will be available to watch on Crypt TV's Facebook and Instagram pages as well, but only until February 28! So be sure to catch it before it's gone.