‘The Crew,’ backed by Google Jump Start, tells of Filipino cruise ship worker’s dream
“The Crew,” a cinematic 360 narrative short film, tells the story of a Filipino cruise ship worker who uses opera karaoke to cope with his difficult working conditions. The film is part of Google’s inaugural Jump Start program which supports select 360 video projects.
The Crew is inspired by writer Jason Ferguson’s personal experience living and working onboard cruise ships.
The story is of a cabin steward named Benjo, who is preparing to sing his favorite opera aria, “Vesti La Giubba” from Pagliacci. He is about to have a chance to perform in a crew talent show that is being assembled quickly to provide entertainment to passengers while the ship waits out a storm at sea.
But while practicing in his cabin, Benjo learns the show has been cancelled. The viewer takes on the point of view of Benjo’s cabin mate, and through the film one can piece together some of the clues to why their working conditions are so difficult.
“While I was working on cruise ships producing the stage shows, I became friends with many of the crew onboard,” said Jason Ferguson, writer of the film and former theatre producer and personal assistant to Puff Daddy. “The stories I would hear about how the lower ranked, mostly Filipino, crew were treated have always stuck with me. It was this experience that inspired me to tell this story.”
The film is designed to push forward how narrative stories are told in 360.
“VR is often called an empathy machine and we wanted to use this aspect of it to add to the emotional story being told,” said Johan Anderson, director of “The Crew” who recently directed commercials starring Misty Copeland and Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown.
“Documentaries having done a great job of using 360 video to stir this kind of empathy, but we wanted to do the same for narrative storytelling.”
Although cruise ship staff are made up of many nationalities, Filipinos are by far the largest, especially for low-ranking positions such as cabin cleaners.
“I know people like the character I play in this film,” said opera singer and star of the film Rogelio B. Peñaverde, Jr. “Not only fellow countrymen who work in the cruise industry, or people that are in the artistic field, but friends who struggle every day to overcome obstacles so that they may realize their dreams.”
The film is scheduled to shoot this month in New York City and has launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise the final stage of the budget, and to purchase and ship Google Cardboard devices to cruise ships so that crew members can watch the 360 film.
The Crew is produced by Jeffrey Hernandez and Josh Goldsmith, written by Jason Ferguson, directed by Johan Anderson, and starring Rogelio B. Peñaverde, Jr. This film is supported by Google Jump Start.
Visit the Indiegogo to learn more or contribute: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-crew-a-cinematic-360-short-film-vr/x/8636837#/