Indiewire: Future Tense: Sifting Through the Patterns of VR Storytelling at Sundance

The episodic narrative series "Defrost," directed by Randal Kleiser ("Grease," "Blue Lagoon"), which put the viewer into a story from the perspective of a woman who’s been cryogenically frozen for 30 years and has just woken up and is re-meeting her family, who have all aged three decades while she was frozen, is one of the best uses of a sense of presence and empathy in VR I’ve seen to date in this emerging storytelling format.



The Verge: The best virtual reality from the Sundance Film Festival


Defrost is a live-action Gear VR series particularly notable for its pedigree. It’s directed by Randal Kleiser of Grease and The Blue Lagoon, and its cast includesRocky’s Carl Weathers and character actor Bruce Davison. It’s also got a great core idea: you inhabit a woman awoken from a cryogenic slumber in a sci-fi world with a sinister underbelly. But that idea feels far bigger than what Defrost has time to explore. The pilot lasts just long enough to establish the premise, and a couple of installments later your grandson is matter-of-factly explaining that he is an evil robot. That’s a lot to parse in an 12-part series that will probably be shorter than a single episode of Game of Thrones.



Twitch: Sundance: New Frontier VR Round-Up

Of my 21 VR experiences, the one that came the closest to a full-on VR narrative was Randal Kleiser's Defrost (with Tanna Frederick). Kleiser, famous as the director of the film Grease, brought a filmic sensibility to his piece that began with the casting of talented and recognizable actors (Carl Weathers and Bruce Davison to start). It's a simple first person narrative about a woman who awakens from cryogenic sleep to find her grown children surrounding her. Not much happens, but this is (quite obviously) just the first part of a multi-part series and points to potential for a real story. Defrost is a non-interactive (i.e. pre-rendered) 360 video piece that runs on the Gear VR. This simplest of setups may be one of the secrets to its narrative success. 




ETCentric: Sundance 2016: VR’s Coming-of-Age as a Storytelling Medium


At the recent Sundance Film Festival, virtual reality was a big hit for the second year running. But the changes in just a year were also evident: rather than the conversation focusing on the technology enabling the VR experiences, the focus was on storytelling. Virtual reality, in other words, has become a medium, as demonstrated in projects such as “Grease” director Randal Kleiser’s sci-fi VR drama “Defrost,” which tells the story of a woman just awaking from a coma. The series is a full season with another in development.



AFP: Sundance festival embraces virtual reality

A real-life homicide, a woman who wakes up after being frozen for 30 years and a close encounter with a whale -- these are some of the virtual reality films creating a buzz at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

Among the standout shorts, which run about five minutes on average, is "Defrost," which follows a woman who suffered a massive stroke and wakes up after being frozen for nearly 30 years.

The viewer, equipped with a headset, experiences the film from the woman's perspective as she reunites with her much older family.



LE POINT: Au festival de Sundance, la réalité virtuelle en vedette (Sundance embraces Virtual Reality)

Un meurtre lors de violences domestiques, une femme qui se réveille après avoir été congelée pendant 30 ans et une baleine approchée de très près... Une série de films en réalité virtuelle créent l'événement au festival de Sundance.

Parmi les courts-métrages de réalité virtuelle faisant le plus parler d'eux à Sundance, "Defrost" raconte l'histoire d'une femme qui a subi une attaque cardiaque massive et se réveille après avoir été congelée pendant environ 30 ans.

Le spectateur vit le film de son point de vue, au moment de ses retrouvailles avec sa famille, trente ans plus âgée que quand elle l'a quittée.

(A real-life homicide, a woman who wakes up after being frozen for 30 years and a close encounter with a whale -- these are some of the virtual reality films creating a buzz at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

Among the standout shorts, which run about five minutes on average, is "Defrost," which follows a woman who suffered a massive stroke and wakes up after being frozen for nearly 30 years.

The viewer, equipped with a headset, experiences the film from the woman's perspective as she reunites with her much older family.)





The Park Record: Tanna Frederick hopes audiences will warm to 'Defrost'

How would it be to wake up from a 30-year cryogenic freeze, unable to talk? How would you react to your family, who have become nearly unrecognizable?

Viewers will get a glimpse of that feeling when they see "Defrost" at Sundance Film Festival's New Frontier VR Experiences.

In this science-fiction virtual reality narrative experience, the viewer, using individual VR goggles, experiences the world through the eyes of Joan Garrison, played by Kelly DeSarla.

Tanna Frederick is the producer of "Defrost" and she spoke to The Park Record about this ground-breaking project.

"This isn't just a project with a 'wow' factor to it," Frederick said "Sure it was virtual reality and is an eye-candy experience, but it isn't all about a seat to a Lakers game or a behind-the-scene of a rock concert, which are all great. It is a narrative experience that takes the viewer into another life."

Frederick joined forces with film director, Randal Kleiser, who has experimented with technology since he first used digital morphing in the 1986 film "Flight of the Navigator."

"Randal came to me with the pilot he had written in 1968, while he was at USC, and it still held up," Frederick said "We had wanted to work together forever and I told him that I'd produce it."

The creative team also included John Pattyson, executive producer of Immersive Media (IM 360), the company that provided the filming equipment for "Defrost" and handled the post production.

"We used 360 technology and we would strap the camera onto a wheelchair and Randal would go through with the blocking," Frederick said.

"We knew that we needed to get the viewers to pay attention to the activities in the film."

"The 360 allowed one take with Randal pushing the wheelchair all over the place, while we all acted around it," she said. "It was like reverse theatre in the round. Instead of having the audience around you, you were acting around a camera that was set on a wheelchair and adorned with a dummy's head. It was pretty fun.


The catch is the first-person perspective, which has already made an impact on Frederick and Kleiser's close friends and family members who have seen the pilot in the 12-episode series.

"They empathized with Joan, who can't talk and is literally meeting her family, who is completely unrecognizable to her," Frederick said. "Randal wrote the rest of the episodes and they all had a hook at the end that made the viewers want to binge."

Not only is Frederick the producer, she also portrays Garrison's daughter, Beverly Perez.

"When I talk to Joan, it's set up in a way that I appear to be talking right at the viewers," she said. "I'll say, 'Hey Mommy, I want to tell you I love you,' or 'Can I still call you Mommy because it's been so long since I've lost you,' and we've had some great responses to that, because it brings out the viewers' emotions."

When Frederick and Kleiser showed the episode to Kelsey's mother, the reaction was immediate.

"She is 84 or something like that and has all of her faculties, but watched it while in her hospital bed," Frederick said. "As she watched, she began speaking back to my character. When I said, 'Can I call you mother,' she said, 'Oh, yes. I would like that very much.'

"I love that this experience gives the elderly or those who are sedentary a way to feel they are actually taking part of an event," she said. "It's been exciting and thrilling to watch, because it's all about the power of telling the story."

Adding to the power of the script are the actors, including Bruce Davidson, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Hamlin and Chris Atkins.

"People feel a familiarity with the cast, because they grew up with these actors in one way or another," Frederick said. "They see these familiar faces and go on this journey."

Although Frederick was worried at first at the way the VR goggles isolated the viewer, she also realized how unifying the experience could be with a group of people.

"This is a great tool to have because you can get a mass population to take a second and immerse themselves in a situation where they all feel this emotion together as they gain more information about this character in each episode," she said. "I feel so fortunate to have produced it and we're excited to make it into Sundance. That is the ultimate gold star and I'm a fifth grader."

"Defrost" is at New Frontier during the Sundance Film Festival. For more information, visit .



Huck: Virtual Reality: the indie filmmakers putting you at the heart of the story

Mainstream studios are already exploiting virtual reality, looking for the next big thing. Now indie filmmakers at Sundance have begun using the technology to enhance hard stories on social conflict, including police shootings and sexual harassment. But is VR just another gimmick?

It’s also interesting to wonder where the format could go from here. For an indication of what could lie ahead, look no further than Defrost, an interactive short that premiered at Sundance. Directed by Randal Kleiser (the man behind Grease and The Blue Lagoon), Defrost puts you directly in the head of a woman waking up from years in cryogenic freezing, and we watch from her POV as she is informed of her situation by sinister doctors.

Defrost clocks in at only four minutes long, meaning it’ll likely take years for something of a similar nature to hit traditional feature-film lengths. But its interactive, ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’-style VR storytelling could be a siren song to Hollywood producers on the hunt for fresh gimmicks to lure in audiences. So don’t be surprised if the biggest summer blockbuster of 2025 has you as its star.



Variety: Virtual Reality Used to Be All About Tech. Sundance Hints It’s Becoming a Medium

Take “Defrost,” for example, the Sci-Fi VR drama by “Grease” director Randal Kleiser. Not only does it use the modalities of mobile VR — which offers presence in a kind of paralyzed way, because the headset doesn’t know when you are moving around — as a part of story, which is told from the POV of a woman who just awoke from a coma. But it also pushes the envelope on serialized VR storytelling, with a full season in development, and plans for a second and possibly even third season already on Kleiser’s drawing board.



HollywoodLife: ‘Defrost’: Sci-Fi Virtual Reality Drama Debuts At Sundance — Video

Filming ‘Defrost,’ a sci-fi virtual reality drama that’s debuting at the Sundance Film Festival, was tough for the actors. In a new interview, actor Harry Hamlin explained that from their perspective, the main character of Joan was just ‘a black camera with eight eyes.’ Watch!

Defrost, a 12-episode virtual reality drama that is debuting at the Sundance Film Festival, is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. And that’s because while watching it, you’ll be looking through the eyes of Joan, the main protagonist in the series.

Defrost is a virtual reality project about a woman who has been frozen for thirty years, wakes up, and meets her family — her husband, her daughter, and the doctor who’s running the institute,” writer Randal Kleiser said in an interview at Sundance on Jan. 23. 



Hollywood Reporter: Sundance: Looking for the Tarantino of VR

With filmmakers and other virtual-reality enthusiasts having descended on Sundance’s New Frontier program, Twentieth Century Fox is among the companies on the hunt for new talent. “They are indie filmmakers working in VR and some for which VR is their principal medium, meaning there’s a new generation that’s becoming experts in the medium," says David Greenbaum, executive vp production at Fox Searchlight Pictures and one of the directors of the Fox Innovation Lab, which is looking to grow the studio's VR offering.

“We feel like we are going to find the next Coen brothers or Quentin Tarantino — and we’re looking to find them and sign them up to do a project," he tells The Hollywood Reporter. "We’ve already met with a few international filmmakers who we would love to bring back to the Lab and find ways to collaborate.”

VR content is a big part of this year's New Frontier program, including narratives such as 13-part series Defrost, directed by Randal Kleiser (Grease). Shot with one of the first models of Nokia's new OZO 360-degree VR camera, Defrost is a futuristic sci-fi adventure that puts viewers in the seat of a woman who wakes up after having been frozen for nearly 30 years. The cast includes Carl Weathers, Bruce Davison and Tanna Frederick, who also produced.



Gizmodo: Sundance's VR Films Will Break Your Brain

If this year’s Sundance Film Festival is any indication, virtual reality is about to hit the mainstream. Under a program called New Frontier, the festival is promoting eleven independently produced VR films on a smartphone app. The finalists have been chosen from hundreds of entries, and among them are some short documentaries, horrifying acid trips, and even a Reggie Watt music video.

You can watch them using Google Cardboard on your smartphone by downloading the Sundance VR app. The shorts will be available until February 12.

One of the standout shorts, Defrost, is a sci-fi futuristic drama that follows a woman who suffered a massive stroke and was cryogenically frozen. (It’s the VR debut of Grease director Randal Kleiser and it stars Carl Weathers.) The woman’s waking up 30 years later as the film begins. The viewer experiences the story from the perspective of the woman, Mrs. Garrison, who’s wheeled around the hospital after awakening and is reunited with her very emotional family.


Variety:  Randal Kleiser’s Sci-Fi Virtual Reality Drama ‘Defrost’ Debuts at Sundance (Exclusive)


Variety: Randal Kleiser’s Sci-Fi Virtual Reality Drama ‘Defrost’ Debuts at Sundance (Exclusive)

Years before Randal Kleiser started working on his hit musical “Grease”, he wrote a Sci-Fi screen play about cryogenic life extension. The idea: A woman gets woken up from decades of sub-zero temperature suspension, to find herself confronted with a much older family, some very advanced technology and a nagging suspicion that some things just don’t feel right. Kleiser wanted the whole film to play out from the protagonist’s point of view, but never really got a chance to do so. The script disappeared in a drawer, and remained forgotten for decades.



Sundance Press Release

The 2016 edition of New Frontier at the Festival includes three feature films and a live performance, as well as 30 VR experiences and eleven installations in the more than 10,000-square-foot exhibition, taking place at multiple venues: Park City’s historic Claim Jumper, The Gateway, a large-scale installation on Swede Alley by Chris Milk and a performance by Gingger Shankar at Festival Base Camp Presented by Canada Goose. In addition to a physical exhibition at the Festival, audiences everywhere will be able to experience more than 20 virtual reality pieces on mobile VR headsets. This year’s Festival will also include a program of New Frontier short films to be announced at a later date.


Artist: Randal Kleiser; Key Collaborator: Tanna Frederick
In this futuristic, sci-fi virtual reality adventure, viewers are put in the seat of a woman who wakes up after being frozen for nearly 30 years to reunite with her family. The reunion is bittersweet, as the passage of time has caused her loved ones to become strangers. Cast: Carl Weathers, Bruce Davison, Tanna Frederick, Christopher Atkins, Ethan Rains, Clinton Valencia.

Read full article here:



Director Randal Kleiser Kicks Off Virtual Reality Narrative Short 'Defrost'

Extract from The Hollywood Reporter article by Carolyn Giordina:

A technically-savvy director, Kleiser was excited to experiment with the format. In the story, told in the first-person, the viewer "plays" Joan Garrison, who awakens after being cryogenically frozen for 30 years. As the story begins, Joan's in a wheelchair, being led down a hospital hall as the doctor (Carl Weathers) explains to you what has happened, given you the sense of disorientation that “Joan” would feel. You then meet your family, and one by one they reintroduce themselves. It ends with the doctor asking if you’d like to see what you look like, and holds a mirror up to you (the camera) for the reveal.

“It’s a first person experience and you can make the viewer a character,” Kleiser told The Hollywood Reporter of his impression of the new medium. “I came up with the idea of the wheelchair ... as well as making her speech not possible due to the defrosting process. [This is because in VR] you couldn't talk to the characters, but they could talk to you."

Read full article HERE



Tanna Frederick - DEFROST, A Virtual Reality Short Movie Breaking the 4th Wall

Tanna Frederick, award-winning actress of film and theater has produced a state of the art 360-degree Virtual Reality movie, Defrost, that pulls the viewer into an emotional immersive experience, unlike seeing a movie on the big screen. With the use of Samsung Gear VR goggles, Defrost is one of the first attempts in the industry to tell a narrative story with the 360-degree technology.  Frederick said, “Producing this project with the new technology is an attempt to create an emotional experience. The audience follows the first person point of view of Joan Garrison who wakes up after 30 years of being frozen for medical reasons. She feels trapped. She is just seeing life again for first time. We go on the journey through her awakening by following her perspective as she is being wheeled down the hallway.” 

(continue reading)



Veronica Cartwright joins Defrost

We are proud to announce that actress Veronica Cartwright (Alien, The Invasion) has been added to the cast of the Virtual Reality Series DEFROST shooting in October at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies. 

Randal Kleiser and Tanna Frederick are producing.  Others set for this 12 part series are Bruce Davison and Christopher Atkins.



“Defrost” A Virtual Reality Movie Thawing the Audience’s Point of View 360 Degrees.

Extract from The Hollywood Times article by Sheryl Aronson:

Hollywood,CA (The Hollywood Times)- Judd Nelson spun around in a chair like a kid pointing his head upwards to the ceiling wearing the SamsungVR Gear goggles and earphones, then twisting his head backwards and then straight ahead as he watched the six-minute Virtual Reality movie Defrost. The viewer has a 360-degree perspective of the story and feels completely immersed in the experience.   The movie is seen through the virtual reality goggles, which is the newest, advanced technologically for the virtual reality experience.   No popcorn needed while the audience member enters into a whole other dimension of existence.

After debriefing from his joy ride of revolving on the chair, the actor told The Hollywood Times, “It’s fascinating. Everything is happening at once and you can see 360 degrees around. When someone is walking by in the shot you can follow that person even if they don’t have any lines…it’s sort of nerve wracking too because all of a sudden there’s a character behind you. Someone can creep up on you from behind.”

Read full article HERE



Press Release






Written & Directed by Randal Kleiser (Grease, Flight of the Navigator)

Featuring Carl Weathers (Predator), Bruce Davison (X-Men) and

Christopher Atkins (The Blue Lagoon)

Produced by Tanna Frederick




July 30, 2015…Los Angeles…Randal Kleiser Productions and IM360 are proud to announce the public release of a virtual reality short DEFROST, written and directed by Randal Kleiser (Grease, Flight of the Navigator) will be screened at the 2015 SIGGRAPH conference August 9-13, 2015 and at the VRLA Expo August 29, 2015. This project further develops the medium of virtual reality through its fictional narrative form.


DEFROST takes place in the year 2045, when liquid nitrogen is now commonly used to freeze patients until remedies for their illnesses are developed. The film follows the experience of Joan Garrison as she wakes up from her frozen state after thirty years. She reunites with her family, but the reunion is bittersweet, as the passage of time has caused her loved ones to become strangers. The short was filmed in 360°, allowing audience members to witness the story directly from Joan’s perspective. The result is an intimate and immersive experience.


CARL WEATHERS (Actor) After retiring from the Oakland Raiders in 1974, his big break came in 1976, when producers Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff chose him to play “Apollo Creed” in Rocky. He went on to play “Creed” in three other “Rocky” movies as well as “Dillon” in Predator. His later credits include Action Jackson, In the Heat of the Night, and Happy Gilmore

BRUCE DAVISON (Actor) is well known for his Academy Award nominated performance in Longtime Companion, which also awarded him a Golden Globe. Davison appeared in the first two films of the X-Men film franchise, portraying antagonist Senator Robert Kelly. In more recent times, Davison has appeared in films such as Breach and Runaway Jury.

CHRISTOPHER ATKINS (Actor) became famous for his debut opposite Brooke Shields in the 1980 film The Blue Lagoon. His portrayal gained him a Golden Globe nomination for New Star of the Year. His other credits include The Pirate Movie and A Night in Heaven.

RANDAL KLEISER (Director/Writer/Producer) best known for Grease, other features include The Blue Lagoon, White Fang, Flight of the Navigator, It’s My Party, North Shore, Summer Lovers, and Lovewrecked.   Mr. Kleiser has previously worked in virtual reality with the Disneyland attraction, Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, and with Battle Drill, an Improvised Explosive Device simulator for the US Army.

TANNA FREDERICK (Producer/Actress) has starred in Hollywood Dreams, Irene in Time, and Queen of the Lot. She co-founded the Iowa Independent Film Festival in 2007 and spearheaded the filmmaking initiative Project Cornlight. Since moving to California, she has worked closely with Henry Jaglom on several projects and has starred in many theatrical productions including The Rainmaker and Train to Zakopane.

JOHN PATTYSON (Executive Producer) He has led programming for CBS, NBC, ABC, and many other networks and produced behind-the-scenes for hundreds of Hollywood's biggest films. Pattyson is the Executive Producer of Immersive Media, a world leader in 360° filmmaking. He is a winner of the UPI National Sportscaster Award and three Emmys.

MYLES MCGOVERN (Executive Producer) The President & CEO of Immersive Ventures Inc. and of its wholly owned subsidiary Immersive Media Company, he revolutionized the way audiences interact with video entertainment with 360° video technology. Prior to 2004, Myles spearheaded the rapid growth of Centrinity/MC2 into 55 countries and was twice nominated for Canadian Entrepreneur of the year.


Kelly Desarla, Ethan Rains, Clinton Valencia and Kai Oz.

Specials Thanks to the Institute for Creative Technologies at USC: Randy Hill, Orli Belman, Kathleen Haase and Cheryl Birch.



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