STATE VS. YOU an immersive vR EXPERIENCE

What's worse than finding your girlfriend's body, strangled and lifeless, in your own bed? Being accused, tried, convicted, and imprisoned for her murder.

In a 3-part immersive VR experience from creators Amanda Knox and Christopher Robinson, State vs. You takes you through the unthinkable tragedy of being wrongfully convicted of murder - from the discovery of your girlfriend's body, to the interrogation and trial, and finally, imprisonment. No one thinks it could happen to them. And yet, studies estimate that 100,000 innocent Americans are currently imprisoned for crimes they didn't commit.

State vs. You is a first-person POV virtual reality experience of wrongful conviction. Imagine series like The Night Of, Serial, and Making a Murderer. Now imagine being inside the story. Inside the nightmare. State vs. You does exactly that. It places you inside the experience of a man wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. And in doing so, State vs. You bridges the empathic gulf between laypeople, law enforcement, victims, and wrongfully convicted innocents.

CREATIVE APPROACH

Dreamlike. Dissociated. Unsettling.

The fundamental experience of the wrongfully convicted person is one of intense presence and limited agency: you're trapped. Trapped in an interrogation room. Trapped in a courtroom. Trapped in a cell.

State vs. You takes advantage of both the tools and the limitations of current VR technology to make this experience come alive. A forced pan simulates the drunk spins. The camera shakes when a police officer grabs you by the collar. The courtroom is partially abstracted, forcing you to keep your eyes focused on the witnesses testifying against you, while behind you, disembodied eyes scrutinize you from the darkness. Just a few at first, dim, and hard to notice. But as time passes, the eyes multiply and brighten, all staring right at you.

We end the experience in your prison cell. Outside your window the seasons slowly change. And in time, you notice that the scene is on loop, repeating subtly and infinitely until you physically remove the headset, a nod to the agonizing repetition of life inside a cell as the world carries on outside.

STRUCTURE

The experience is broken into 3 parts, each part 8-11 minutes long.

Part 1 opens with a brief prologue that establishes your alibi for the night of the murder, and Part 3 ends with a brief epilogue where you serve out your sentence.

The bulk of the film takes place in the courtroom where you're on trial. With each bit of testimony, you see the prosecution construct for the jury a false narrative of that night's events. A false version of you. And with this testimony, you experience frequent flashbacks—to the night of the murder, the morning after, the brutally long police interrogation, select moments from your past brought up by character witnesses. Each experience hammers home the gulf between reality as you remember it and the prosecution's story of you: the murderer.

SAMPLE EPISODES

Part 1

With a brief prologue, you get a sense of the rocky state of your relationship with your girlfriend, Sarah. You experience your alibi for the night of the murder—you're out at a bar. Your vision is blurry. You then move into the beginning of your trial and you sit there, trapped, watching firsthand testimony from Sarah's best friend and the responding officer. Flashbacks from their testimonies take you to the morning Sarah's body was found. You end in shock, the moment you first see her strangled neck.

Part 2

You return to the trial, moving through testimony from the forensic expert, the building super, and the bartender, who despite your alibi, has no recollection of you at the bar. You flashback to your taxi-ride home from the bar and see someone suspicious exiting your apartment building. But nonetheless the trial proceeds and a string of character witnesses take the stand. Sarah's mother. A women you had an affair with. Your best friend. The prosecutor twists and perverts aspects of your life to paint the portrait of you they need—a violent person with motive to kill.

Part 3

The trial continues with the most damning piece of evidence against you - a false confession coerced by the lead investigator and interrogator. You flashback periodically to the hours-long interrogation. It starts with easy questioning, escalates to accusations and intimidation, and culminates in your breakdown. In a startling moment, you hear your own voice. It's the first time you've heard your voice in the film, and its words are those of a coerced confession—admitting to the detectives' version of events. The final act ends in your prison cell. Outside the window the seasons slowly change. A guard comes by to tell you that your appeals lawyer can't make it today. And the scene loops. Again. And again. Until you take off the headset.

THE TEAM

AMANDA KNOX, CREATOR // WRITER

Amanda Knox is an exoneree, criminal justice advocate, and writer. After spending nearly four years in prison and eight years on trial for a murder she didn't commit, she wrote a memoir, Waiting to Be Heard (HarperCollins, April 2013). Her journalism has been published in USA Today, Broadly, the Seattle Times, and Seattle Magazine. Amanda is currently working to spread awareness of wrongful conviction issues through VR, TV, and print media. She also writes a weekly column for the West Seattle Herald. She lives in Seattle with her partner, Christopher Robinson, who encourages her to always go meta.

CHRISTOPHER ROBINSON, CREATOR // WRITER

Christopher Robinson is a novelist, poet and futurist. He is the co-author with Gavin Kovite, of War of the Encyclopaedists (Scribner, May 2015), which received glowing reviews in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Esquire. His work has appeared widely in such publications as Salon.com, New England Review, the Kenyon Review, and McSweeney's online. He has written about virtual reality and artificial intelligence for Bright Ideas Magazine. He is also a recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, the Millay Colony, and Bread Loaf. Christopher has too many degrees, including an MA in poetry from Boston University and an MFA from Hunter College. He lives in Seattle with his partner, Amanda Knox, who pushes him daily to be more empathic.

JAMES KAELAN, DIRECTOR

James Kaelan is the editor-in-chief of the film culture magazine BRIGHT IDEAS and a co-founder of the crowdfunding and distribution platform, Seed&Spark. With his collaborator, Blessing Yen, he is the writer/director of the virtual reality short, "The Visitor" (AFI FEST '16, Slamdance '16, SFiFF '16), and the producer of Janicza Bravo's much-lauded VR experience, "Hard Work for Small Things" (Sundance '16, Tribeca '16).

BRYN MOOSER, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

Bryn Mooser is the CEO and co-founder of RYOT. Recently acquired by AOL, RYOT is the leading immersive media company specializing in virtual and augmented reality. As an Oscar nominated filmmaker, Mooser has overseen the production of more than 200 linear and immersive films created by RYOT in collaboration with some of the most well-known brand partners in the world. Mooser is also pioneering narrative virtual reality storytelling, launching the first ever virtual reality global news show and comedy series. RYOT’s work has earned accolades across the industry, including recognition as an Emmy Awards 2016 finals for HuffPost RYOT’s “The Crossing” and a Peabody Award finalist

HAYLEY PAPPAS, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

As Head of Films for RYOT, Hayley oversees the development, production, distribution, and campaigns of all RYOT Films - from feature-length docs and character driven shorts to experiential VR pieces. With RYOT, she’s had the privilege of producing award-winning docs, including the Oscar-nominated short, “Body Team 12,” as well as over a dozen virtual reality (VR) films. Her work has covered topics including sexual assault, solitary confinement, and mass executions and has premiered at Sundance, Tribeca, and Hot Docs among others.

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