Sometimes, it pays not to trust your gut. That's one lesson that Eugene Chung, co-founder and CEO at Penrose Studios, a VR production company, recently learned.
Penrose Studios, which has raised $8.5 million in venture capital funding (the largest investment in a VR startup to date) debuted its second film at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this week. The 20-minute interactive short follows a young girl named Allumette who sells matches in a city in the sky. Viewers discover that she's been orphaned. As Chung puts it, his film explores "love, loss and loneliness"--concepts that stem from his experiences seeing his own mother sacrifice much of herself in order for him to have better opportunities.
The film is called Allumette, and it's a title that Chung says he hated in the very beginning. "Allumette means 'matchstick' in French, and to be quite honest, it was never meant to be the name of our film," he said. For advice, he turned to a trusted mentor: Roman Coppola, a major Hollywood producer, writer, and director. (In 2012, Coppola won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Moonrise Kingdom.)
Chung says he would send Coppola, who is one of the startup's creative advisors, his scripts for feedback. During production, most of the Penrose staffers (and Coppola) had pushed for the title--even though it was originally intended as a temporary placeholder.
Although Chung had hoped for a more "creative" title, he ultimately realized after completing the film that the simplicity of the Allumette actually seemed to fit well with the subject matter.
"It was almost an accident," he says.