The below Scout Expedition Co Designing Immersive Environments workshop will be remounted in Los Angeles on Sunday, January 28th via a partnership with us! For more information and tickets, please visit scoutworkshop.eventbrite.com.
Nestled in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, a group of strangers huddle together in a dimly lit basement. I scramble to cut out photos of children’s faces and paste them on the concrete wall. The man next to me furiously scribbles various ransom notes and throws them onto the ground. Time is running out.
On Saturday, November 4th, two of the most prominent immersive designers (with the generous help of San Francisco’s Rathskeller Club) hosted a class of twenty people. This class, entitled Designing Immersive Environments (or DIE for short), offered a blend of theory, practical advice, and hands-on experience.
Jarrett Lantz and Jeff Leinenveber of Scout Expedition Co., the hosts of the seven-hour class, have deep roots in immersive set design. After experiencing their gateway drug, Punch Drunk’s Sleep No More, Jarrett and Jeff were hooked on immersive theater. They quickly found themselves attending every experience they could, becoming increasingly enamored with the magical word they had stepped in to. While the duo had previously worked together on both long-running immersive horror theater piece Delusion and with Third Rail Projects on a number of experiences, Scout Expedition Co. fully came to fruition with their award-winning project, The Nest.
The Nest, inspired by the stories buried within items from estate sales and narratively-driven video games, invited guests into a storage locker to entwine themselves in the intimate life story of a deceased woman. This was all accomplished through interactions with her personal belongings—with the notable absence of any tangible actors. This played to Scout Expedition’s strengths, as they paid painstakingly close attention to the emotional effect of the space, from lighting to the smallest possible item. The environment itself became the star of The Nest’s narrative, with guests acting as conduits of emotion and narrative progression, which allowed Scout to forget about rules of interaction and focus purely on the story.
Leveraging the knowledge and expertise they gained from these various projects, Lantz and Leinenveber wanted to share their knowledge with the immersive community. Focusing on their creative process and lessons they’ve learned, the workshop begins with a practical discussion of their design process, how to effectively utilize props and lighting, and an in-depth look at the psychology of space.
This all culminates in getting your hands dirty: working with a team of five to create your very own immersive space using the principals discussed in the class. We were provided some bare essentials (tape, pens, paper, etc) and were also able to select a few items from Jarrett and Jeff’s treasure trove of odds and ends that they had brought up from LA. Each team was assigned a theme (ours was Little Red Riding Hood) and allowed to choose a location based on the list provided to us. Creating a film noir that was Little Red Riding Hood themed, out of trash bags and tape was challenging but provided a kinesthetic application to the previous lessons—solidifying the ideas into my mind. We were then given the chance to explore each group’s environment, followed by a discussion of each lead by Lantz and Leinenveber.
A truly unique and hyper-specialized course, this workshop was perfect for those interested in immersive set design and essential for creators who are or will be producing experiential work. Don’t miss your chance to learn about immersive set design from experts in the subject and connect with your local immersive community at the same time.
Special thanks to both Scout Expedition Co., as well as Rathskeller Club for bringing together creative minds within the immersive theater space, and encouraging others to create engaging and unique work. Follow Scout Expedition Co. on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for the latest updates on their upcoming work.
For more information on this workshop, as well as tickets for the upcoming Los Angeles remount, please visit scoutworkshop.eventbrite.com!!