360° film experience
'Underground Shelter' brings the underground hideouts, where millions of Ukrainians have spent part of their lives since the beginning of the Russian invasion, to our world. Those who no longer know what war is, momentarily share a underground space with ordinary citizens in Ukraine.
'Underground Shelter' is a 360-degree documentary film by Sjors Swierstra and VR producer Scopic in collaboration with Ukrainian producer Ivanna Khitsinka, Ukrainian Line Producer Alena Stuliy, and filmmakers from the Ukrainian collective BABYLON'13.
Air raid sirens sound. On the streets of Ukraine, the world comes to a standstill. Underground, in metros, barracks, and basements of hospitals, schools, churches, and factories, life continues.
Children go to school. People dance. Soldiers take shelter from the rain of bombs before they go out to fight. These are experiences that are far away for most of us, but for the people living in it, an inescapable reality.
Underground Shelter uses virtual reality to immerse viewers in the wartime shelters of Ukraine where life continues as best as it can. Reminding those in the Netherlands, who've known decades of peace, of the realities of war. What's it like to endure war from a shelter?
The viewer will experience the film in underground spaces in the Netherlands that would be our hide-out if it ever comes to it. In cellars, metro tubes and atomic bunkers from the cold war the physical world in the Netherlands and virtual experience of shelters in Ukraine merge into a captivating filmic experience.
The scenes will be brought together in a filmic experience that does justice to the reality of war and approximates the feeling of what it is like to have to live in an underground shelter.
With the help of the research grant from the Filmfonds and the Stimuleringsfonds, war reporter Hans Jaap Melissen and Ukrainian filmmaker Nicholas But where able to experiment with 360-degree filming in Ukraine. Melissen captured an amateur boxing match in a metro, while But recorded scenes in an underground cellar of a school in Kiev. In the next phase of the project we want to work with more filmmakers in order to create an engaging and diverse portrait of life underground.
Hans Jaap Melissen has held dozens of conversations with filmmakers, journalists, and photographers to inquire if they are interested in participating.
We collaborated with producer Ivanna Khitsinka, VR specialist Alena Stuliy, and the film collective BABYLON’13. These film professionals value the project for its tangible civilian perspective on the war through virtual reality.
Director Sjors Swierstra has spent the past months researching the positioning of the project in relation to other VR projects and discussed presenting the project in underground spaces in the Netherlands with industry experts like scenarist Roelof Jan Minneboo and scenographer Theun Mosk.
Join us on this journey, and we'll keep you informed with email updates of our progress!
Hans Jaap Mellissen