Recently we got to conduct an interview with the makers of Virtual Prey, an interactive horror DVD remniscent of the old "Choose Your Own Adventure" books you read when you were a kid! From the sound of things, this DVD looks to be a ton of fun!
Where did you come up with the idea of creating an interactive DVD that serves as both a game, and a short-film?
I've always had an interest in hi-tech gadgets, and back in 1993 I began reading about the developing DVD format. Once I realized the capabilities of this new medium, (which included high quality video, audio and interactivity), I became excited with the possibilities. Since I had been a fan of horror since I was seven, and have had experience with computer programming, I knew that DVD would be the perfect medium for a live-action, interactive horror game. In 1999, Mitch Lerman came on board to handle directorial duties. He brought with him some super cool ideas and together we began to develop Virtual Prey. -Adam Prusan
How do you play Virtual Prey?
Virtual Prey is a live-action game of chance that you can play on any DVD player. You'll see a beautiful girl, Raven McCoy (Bonnie-Jill Laflin) being chased by an unrelenting serial killer. At various points during her run for life, you will see three arrows appear on the screen. Each arrow represents a possible fate for Raven. To activate a fate, click on an arrow using your DVD remote or mouse. If you choose the correct arrow, Raven will encounter her pursuer, neutralize him and advance to the next level of survival. If you choose an incorrect arrow, she will suffer A GRUESOME DEATH! If you do not make a choice within 4 seconds, Raven automatically loses a life. If she loses her life 3 times, you lose the game and must begin again.
But the intrigue doesn't end there. With Virtual Prey's random chance design, upon multiple plays you will discover you never see the same thing twice. Alternate opening sequences and other scenes begin to unravel secrets and answer previously unanswered questions. The result is a different experience with each play, that never loses sight of the main goal; to deliver Raven from evil. -Mitch Lerman
Virtual Prey has an obvious Texas Chainsaw Massacre feel, but what other films influence and inspire you?
Scarface, Deliverance, Friday the 13th , 70's horror and virtually all films by William Friedkin and Scorsese. In 1999 while we were in development, we discovered Run Lola Run which delves into the subject of multi fates. That was another inspiration. I've always been intrigued with the idea of altering one's future by turning a different corner. In the game, Raven's future can be altered by clicking on an arrow. - Mitch Lerman
Did you make up alternate takes for the different scenarios as you went, or was everything written out in script format before filming?
Everything was written out in script format. You'll see Raven chainsawed, buried alive, throttled, thrown into a den of pitbulls and more. On the flip side when you choose the correct arrow (fate) She'll get the revenge she so richly deserves. I want to make it clear Raven is not a victim. She's a born fighter, much like Sarah Conner in the Terminator movies. - Mitch Lerman
What were the biggest obstacles you were faced with when first trying to get Virtual Prey off the ground?
There was no one obstacle. It was more like taking on a mind field of them. I'm talking about writing the script/scenarios, assembling the crew, getting the locations, arranging craft service just to name a few. Adam and I pretty much to did it all ourselves. That's what independent filmaking is like. - Mitch Lerman
You hint on the website about Easter Eggs. How many eggs are there, and were these planned from the get-go?
Right now there are select few. Before the final cut, I'm sure we'll come up with a few more.- Adam Prusan
Other than the website, how do you plan to promote Virtual Prey?
We've been talking with distributors. There's some question about the amount of violence in the game. We receive a lot of e-mails from hardcore horror fans that want to see super ultra violence. The final cut is not yet finished. If we go in that direction, we may lose specific outlets. However, mainstream movies contain hardcore violence as well, so we hope general distributors like Best Buys etc. will embrace us as they do the Studio movies.- Mitch Lerman
After this experience, would you create another interactive DVD such as this?
That would depend. If the sales are stellar, we would love to make a second game. If it tanks, no second game. Though, we're very optimistic. The response to the website has been tremendous, and pre orders have been overwhelming. We don't know whether or not to attribute this to the public accepting the idea of interactive DVDs, or they just like seeing chicks tied up. Either way, we're already very thankful and relieved- Mitch Lerman
What are your plans for after the release of Virtual Prey?
Get some sleep.- Mitch Lerman
On the website, you talk about the "random chance design" of the DVD, making it so no 2 viewing are the same. Was this a goal from the beginning, or did this idea evolve as the project progressed?
It evolved during development. It was actually Mitch's idea. No two game plays will be the same. What's really cool, is on subsequent plays, Raven has only partial memory of the peril she experienced in previous lives. During crucial moments she has flashbacks and utilizes what she remembers to defeat and turn the tables on her attacker.
How did the involvement of Bonnie-Jill Laflin come about?
That was one of the toughest aspects of bringing the game to light of day, was it's casting. We knew that that the star would have to have broad appeal. We originally received close to one thousand submissions. From that, believe it or not, we were not satisfied with the applicants. A big problem we encountered was in person, the actresses did not resemble their pictures. It wasn't until we received a zed card of Bonnie-Jill (BJ) that we knew we had found our girl. I say this because Adam and I had seen her two appearances on the Howard Stern Show. From that, we knew she looked great on film, and the camera loved her. After Adam brought to me her videotape audition, it was a no-brainer that she was the one. What followed, was some general preparation for her role. We had her train with a martial arts expert from The Matrix, and a former Navy Seal.
BJ is a natural athlete and extremely flexible. So, it was very easy for her to adapt. You may ask what it was like working with Bonnie-Jill. I'm glad to say it was a real pleasure. Despite her glamour looks, she's a tomboy and a sports nut. We even recently had to reschedule some pick-up shots because she was back east attending the NBA Draft Picks. In her next life, I think she'd like to come back as Kareem Abdul Jabar. - Mitch Lerman
Is Christmas/New Year's still the target release date?
If everything stays on schedule, the Virtual Prey DVD will make a nice macabre addition under the Christmas tree.
Anything exclusive you wanna offer us?
Mmmm. There is something. We can't say anything right now but if it comes to fruition you'll see what we call a "dubious" celebrity make an appearance in the game that should bring a smile to a lot of people. This is only speculative. If it confirms, Lights Out will be the first to know! - Mitch Lerman
Check out the official VIRTUAL PREY website! CLICK HERE
Watch the official teaser...CLICK HERE
Watch the official trailer...CLICK HERE
Thanks to Adam & Mitch! Kerouac out!
Dont't forget to also check out: Virtual Prey