YOU ARE JUST A PUPPET

Starring Paul Scheer (The League) and John Gemberling (Broad City), Ethan Shaftel's Extravaganza has control issues

Ethan Shaftel:

"Filmmaker and VR Creator"
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October 20, 2017

Director Ethan Shaftel's first attempt at interactive storytelling was ten years ago while still in film school. The world, it seems, was not ready. There were no existing outlets for a live action interactive narrative and his story, aptly called You Die At The End, kind of died. This time around, with the release of his acclaimed 360° experience Extravaganza, the world has evolved. As a result, Extravaganza recently premiered at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival this year.

"What better way to really emphasize the fact that you have no control in this world than by making you into a puppet then by putting you into a puppet show that you don't want to be in. You're not only not the hero, it's an offensive show."  

"In a traditional film you feel like you're in the world of the protagonist, in their skin. But immersion undermines that. Its no longer the brain hack that we've relied on for a hundred years."

Before making Extravaganza, Shaftel created an assortment of immersive media projects including a room-sized video installation for Nike, animated parade floats for Disneyland Tokyo, and live-action and animated screen content for artists such as Rihanna, Beyonce, Jay Z, and Jane’s Addiction. Extravaganza is his first VR release and it is now available on Wevr’s Transport.

"VR Scout called the Extravaganza “a brand new immersive short sure to have you cracking up in your headset,” while the Tribeca Film Festival heralded the experience as “a bitingly funny satire.”

Extravaganza is a simultaneously entertaining and provocative work starring comedians Paul Scheer (30 Rock, The League) and John Gemberling (Broad City.) It places the audience into an offensive puppet show of which they have absolutely no control. The primary question posed being, do advances in technology effect society in positive ways, or just further highlight the worst in us.


VR Scout called Extravaganza “a brand new immersive short sure to have you cracking up in your headset,” while the Tribeca Film Festival heralded the experience as “a bitingly funny satire.”

In our Transport interview with Shaftel, we discuss the influence of early VR adjacent games such as Myst, making interactive live action films, the concepts of agency and point of view in VR and much more.

Images (from top to bottom, left to right): header- still from "Extravaganza", 1. still from "Extravaganza", 2. still from "Extravaganza", 3. gif from Tiesto' "Mosh" music video, 4. still from "Flesh Computer", 5. still from "Flesh Computer", 6. still from "You Die At The End", 7. gif from an immersive installation for Nike, 8. still from "Extravaganza", 9. still from "Extravaganza", 10. gif from "Suspension", 11. still from the backdrop video for Foster the People's tour, 12. still from Tiesto's music video "Rush".

More on Ethan Shaftel here

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