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Andrea Östlund explores Extended Reality (XR): "New thoughts on what storytelling is"

Monday, March 11, 2024

Andrea Östlund, Swedish film director and screenwriter, is now stepping into new media to explore additional ways of telling stories. After immersing himself in Extended Reality (XR), Andrea shares his experiences.

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Andrea Östlund is a film director, educated and taught at HDK-Valand and known for drama series such as Vår tid er nu and Zebrarummet. 

As a filmmaker, what drives you to tell stories?

- I think it's about wanting to make a difference, wanting to show situations, preferably tragicomic human failings where we as viewers see something in ourselves or in society.  

What made you want to participate in the Narrative XR Lab at Visual Arena Lindholmen?

- It is only recently that I have become curious about the new technology, and what you can tell with the new tools, something I was not at all before. I feel that I want to develop artistically and creatively. I was also curious about Gorki Glaser-Müller, who is the course leader for the Narrative XR Lab.

- So curiosity and desire, that's what made me apply, in short. 

For two months, you have been able to explore storytelling in XR, how has it been?

- Intense, inspiring, challenging and sometimes slightly anxiety-inducing with all the choices. 

What possibilities do you see with XR?

- There are no limitations to how you can tell a story in XR. That's what I'm trying to understand right now. I think you still need limitations to work creatively. Find ways to access the content combined with the form. What is so funny is that through the lab I have begun to scratch the surface of what XR should be used for in my artistic practice. 

What challenges do you see?

- The challenges go hand in hand with the opportunities. For me, who has never played games, XR is a new way of thinking about storytelling. The dramaturgy is something different in XR than in traditional cinema, but that also means possibilities. Financing seems more complicated so far when it comes to artistic works, as it is a relatively new medium in the industry. 

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Is Narrative XR Lab needed?

- Yes. More and longer. I am incredibly grateful that I had the opportunity to go and that it exists. There is such a high level of all course participants and lecturers. I would have liked it to be for a longer period of time when everyone is a professional who goes. It is fantastic that it is multi-faceted and that it is in English, I got to meet a lot of exciting people that I would never have met otherwise.

What does your future look like now? What will you bring with you and what do you have going on in your career?

- Among other things, I bring with me one of my strongest visual experiences in a long time: Goliath by May Abdallah and also generally new thoughts about what storytelling is. Bombina Bombast was also incredibly inspiring and to be able to work multidisciplinary with people from different fields and create a prototype together - that it worked feels incredibly inspiring! In general, I got a lot of energy, desire and even more curiosity from the lab. It also resulted in me buying a pair of VR glasses.

- Coming soon is a piece to be performed to newly written classical music with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra at the Gothenburg Concert Hall - an immersive experience but with analog technology. I think it will be fantastic!

- I am very curious to continue to learn to learn these techniques in the theater room and to mix the techniques. 

Would you apply again? 

- Yes of course. Incredibly fun and educational.