IMAGINE walking into Rio de Janeiro on a relaxed Saturday afternoon, and a beach volleyball shot comes your way, along with an invitation to join in. A few minutes later, you may end up in an action film set in New York, with the smell of pizza or roasted nuts wafting through as the Big Apple’s skyline sits at the back.
Welcome to the Teleport Café, a one-off virtual transport experience that will take place in 1Utama Shopping Centre’s Oval Concourse this weekend.
Travel through Rio, New York, Paris, Tokyo and Marrakech in a visual and sensory journey, without needing to pack your bags, drop your shopping bags or change out of your casual Saturday wear.
So what is it exactly? That’s a question most commonly directed at WE ARE KIX, a film production turned “film experience” company.
“People will ask, ‘what is this?’” said director Ion Furjanic of initial reactions. He’s not particularly concerned about the potential confusion, after all, the company specialises in breaking new ground when it comes to creative ideas.
They have the record to prove it. Their first live experience event for Mach by Hong Leong bank, ‘Can You Walk On Water’, made history with over 24 million views on YouTube since January this year, making it the most successful online campaign in Malaysia ever.
The KIX team has partnered with Hong Leong bank once again for a never-been-done before “teleporting” experience to reflect Mach’s travel focus.
“We had these ideas to move into more physical experiences, something you can’t get on the Internet,” explained Furjanic on the idea he had lying around in his mind, “which is senses like touch and seeing or feeling things in person.”
It was one he wanted to keep pursuing after the exhilarating experience of seeing people’s reactions and expressions during the walking on water experiment.
The Teleport Café will be another first if it succeeds as the team visualised, but even they confessed they wouldn’t know exactly how it will turn out.
“The public is actually in charge,” said producer and co-founder Jessica Richer. It’s a risk worth taking for the authentic experience, which they highlight is the main focus.
In fact, they expect people to be overwhelmed and even shocked as they first step into the vicinity of the giant projection screens that is collectively bigger than the ones in the cinema.
|Furjanic (left) and Richer.|
Anticipating the typical Malaysian “shyness”, Furjanic and Richer expect most of the crowd to linger around the outer area or look down from upstairs. To combat that, the team has prepared free artisan coffee and tidbits to invite participants in, as well as free gifts from all five cities for those who contribute to the energy level by interacting with the actors who will be role-playing.
As The Edge Financial Daily chatted with them at their office in Bangsar, there were various props lying around. Furjanic explained that each change should take no more than two minutes, while a “transport” scene plays on the screens that depict the travel journey.
“So people may be sitting on carpets having a picnic in Marrakech one moment, then things get moved and it will be the centre of a film set next,” visualised the director, “with some break dancers around the corner.”
Calling the scale a crazy one, the duo proceeded to point out the long “humans” list that show the cast, crew, film crew and special talents needed.
A special aspect indeed would be the smells that the team plans to air out literally. From fresh mint in Marrakech to fresh bread for Paris and seaweed and suntan lotion for Rio de Janeiro, there will be “boomboxes” with fans instead of speakers that will be carried around to act as scent diffusers.
The team had to do some research to make sure that the scents would make sense and be fresh in the Malaysian context.
“There are popcorn stands all around New York, but people here associate it with the cinema, so we might use pizza instead,” pointed out Furjanic, adding that the same situation of familiarity arose with steamed rice in Tokyo. Instead the team will use green tea.
In case you’re wondering about a pizza scent, it will be as authentic as it comes — a slice of pizza in the boombox.
“We are having a microwave oven operating throughout for the bread and pizzas,” he stated with a smile.
What would likely stand out would be the scenes of each city projected on screen, something that the team found most challenging, but exciting about the whole project.
Travelling 30 days to film it all in one go, Richer and Furjanic left from Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo then Paris, Marrakech, New York and Rio de Janeiro, spending five days in each city.
“No two destinations are similar,” both pointed out, as they carefully chose the cities for their unique qualities. “They’re also places that most people want to visit and dream of going to,” emphasised Richer.
The difficulty was capturing all the shots they needed in the short time they had, specifically avoiding filming just the “touristy” sights or facades. They wanted to capture where normal people would go to in the city, right down to the details that represent the city’s culture.
Audiences can expect to catch a costumed “maid” from a Tokyo maid café dancing through a window with some glow sticks, a scene Furjanic stumbled on by chance, as well as a high fashion shopping experience in Paris.
The exciting part, however, is the opportunity to add a surreal touch to the scenes, adding the team’s creative vision to enhance it.
There are some “secrets” that Furjanic and Richer are keeping up their sleeves to save the surprise element for the day itself, but they said that one can expect at any point for the director to pull out the hailer and call for a temporary stop so that they can film a specific part.
“That kind of involves the public in the filming experience for our video, like being on a film set,” he said with a laugh.
Richer added that the video is the icing on the cake for the live experience, much like a memento for those who were part of it and a fresh new concept for those who weren’t.
Hailing from New York and France, both Furjanic and Richer — who were once a music composer and events and PR professional respectively — now call Malaysia home. Just like the people-focused experience they seek to create, the duo said that Malaysian folks and the close friends they’ve made are the best thing about the country.
It may be hard to believe, but after travelling over five cities, both agreed that they really wanted to come back to their home here. “There’s no other place, definitely,” they agreed.
The Teleport Café organised by Mach by Hong Leong opens from 1pm to 9pm at the Oval Concourse of 1Utama Shopping Centre. For more information, visit www.machbyhongleongbank.com/teleport
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 16, 2014.