MADNESS, an interview with Rachel Lara

Posted July 18, 2014 by Sam Liggett in Movies

We The Nerdy got an opportunity to talk with Rachel Lara and Marty Thomas, who will be directing her documentary about their project on Indiegogo. MADNESS is a documentary film that will follow Rachel’s explorations into augmented, alternate, and virtual reality.


Marty: Everyone, this is Rachel Lara, and I’m Marty Thomas, I’m gonna be just sitting off to the side here, you guys go ahead
WTN: Well, first of all, thank you for allowing us the interview, Rachel.
Rachel: But of course
WTN:alright, so the first question I’m going to start off with is kind of the softball question; it’s what is the main premise behind the title of the project?
Rachel: Marty, I’m gonna actually have to let you jump in on that one, I’m signed under a super NDA so I can’t say too much about it. I want to make sure that you actually get the scoop of what it is without me ruining it.
Marty: Yeah, she’s just walking on a really tight line there, so what we should do is I will send you the answers to those questions right after the call, and give you some more insight. I”m just holding her contract so I can see what she can and can’t say, as her manager. So, anyway, definitely it’s going into artificial reality, virtual reality, and augmented, in a way that’s never been done before. And I know, Rachel, that it’s safe to say that this is a very unusual presentation and it’s something really different and exciting.And up until when the film comes out theyre not going to reveal too much, just enough to be tantalizing. Right, Rachel?
Rachel: That sounds about right to me. I want to gush on it, but I can’t.
WTN: No worries.  It seems like everything that we came to the table with falls under that NDA situation. I’d like to ask you personally, this is obviously a huge collaborative effort. How much do you enjoy that collaborative effort versus solo work?
Rachel: I love collaborative effort because I feel like everybody gets something to bring to the table and the more creative minds you have in the process the more cre4ative the outcome. I’ve always been that way, I was trained in that way by Marty, when he directed my film that every opinion matters and that without that you just have kind of a biased outlook.
WTN: What products in the virtual reality aspect that you’ve seen or gotten to play around with, not in the sense of for the movie, what are you excited about that are coming out soon? Like, the Oculus or the Sony one that’s coming out as well, have you gotten to play with any of them yet?
Rachel: That would be kind of the answer to that, is the Oculus Rift.  Everything else, I’ve signed NDA’s under multiple companies, so I can’t talk about their products and everything is super secretive right now, which kind of sucks because I really want to be able to divulge more information, but  that actually makes it more tantalizing, that you’ll want to know more about it. But Oculus Rift is where the future’s at. And that goes far beyond gaming, that goes into military training, it goes into doing walk- throughs for real estate, full 360 degree views of everything, and it’s very very cool. Very cool process, Oculus Rift, I don’t know if you know this, but at E3 they did go hands on with that, and three people had heart attacks.
WTN: Oh, wow, I didn’t know about that.
Rachel: Yes, uhm, three people had heart attacks while doing a walk through of a horror survival game, it was, I believe, Alien.
WTN: OH, that’s actually kind of creepy.  I’d probably have a heart attack too.
Rachel: It kind of gives you a little bit of perspective into how immersive it is.
Marty: The film, MADNESS, touches on that itself, it’s a really immersive movie. I can say that.
WTN: You mentioned your training, what really originally drew you to this kind of visual mediums, film, video games, and things like that?
Rachel: Honestly, I grew up in that way, kind of a child of the information age and technology is kind of in my upbringing. My father got me into technology when I was born,so coming from that It’s always been of interest to me. It’s just those sciences and what comes from that. And if you straddle that fine line between the information age and these technologies and not, it’s easy to fall off, it’s a very fine razor’s edge. That’s very important to know.
WTN: So, what video games are you playing now, and what are some of your favorites from like the last six months?
Rachel: I have been addictively playing Hearthstone. I don’t know if that, if I’m proud or embarrased, but yeah. I’m on the go a lot, so I have my iPad that I’m able to play with when I’m traveling so Hearthstone has been there for me in times of need. I’ve got a couple of other games that I play when I can get home to my PlayStation and play a little. But I can’t play anything really dedicatedly, I play a little bit if World of Warcraft here and there but I’ve been playing some betas and some alphas that, the alphas I obviously can’t say anything about. The betas are a lot of Blizzard betas.  Other than that, it’s a lot of iPad games, because I travel too much, and it sucks.
WTN: on your actual Indiegogo page, you talk about what happens if you’re overfunded and what happens with some of the proceeds from the film, and you specifically mentioned St.Jude’s. Can you talk about any of the other charitable organizations that might be considering donating to? And also why you might be looking at those charities.
Rachel: Yes. My father passed away of Leukemia two months short of my 8th birthday, so I’ve always really been dedicated to cancer foundations. City of Hope is another, as well as some of the leukemia foundations. And there are some others within gaming that I haven’t really gone into the full depth of contacting yet, but that’s of major interest. My mother was on the board of City of Hope and, yeah, cancer foundations are very big for me.
WTN: My grandmother and my uncle have passed away from cancer took, so I can definitely relate.
Rachel: Yeah, and it drives you to be the best that you can be knowing that the best people you know are taken from you, you know?
WTN: Yeah, definitely.
Rachel: It all serves a higher purpose, they just go back home.
Marty: If I could just clarify one thing, if the film surpasses the funding goals, we have a person, and A-list actor that is extremely well placed and very well known for his gaming, he will be a super super great voice over for this film. So that person is in the wings, standing by if we get a little bit more for that.
Rachel: We have a lot of people standing by that we aren’t able to speak of just yet.
Marty: well, there’s people that have actually joined on board that we can’t say yet. But as far as over-funding, that will go toward the film and a good chunk of the profits, of any distribution deal, that’s what will go to those charities. That’s a very important part of this and I know, Rachel that you wanted to make a film with a sociological impact, that contributes to research
Rachel: Because I’ve seen how and where that goes. Directly into medical research.
Marty: So yeah, that’s very important, giving back.
Rachel: Full circle, my friends, full circle.
Marty: So it’s just a mysterious, adventure documentary, and that’s all I’m really allowed to say. I just want to explain the important sociological significance of your film that we’re making.
WTN: something that struck me looking at the Indiegogo project is just the uniqueness of what you’re doing. It’s not just looking at what we’re going to be doing in the next five years, like the Oculus. You’re looking at the next twenty years, and even further down the line. It definitely intrigued me and I definitely feel like there’s a stigma about virtual reality these days, because a lot of people think of it as like the Kinect or the Wii where a lot of people are unsure where it’s going to go. And I’m sure youve gotten to see, but there’s definitely more to it than what we’ve seen and what we have now it the user market.
Rachel: Well, a lot of that is fear unto the unknown, you know. It’s people being scared for their privacy with Kinect, you know, and the eye and knowing that you’re always connected to the Internet. And it’s just a little piece, every time we get something new, that’s chipped away because they’re data mining, or they want to know more about what things youre buying, etcetera.  So yeah, there’s a lot of fear involved, but the stigma is really based in the unknown. We’re going to go into it and we’re going to talk about the implications if you lose a family member and bring them back maybe as a robot. Well, what does that do to you psychologically? I mean, there was the whole cloning thing a long time ago where people were taking their pets’ DNA  for that situation of “what if my dog dies, I love my dog, I need it to come back” and well, is it the same dog? So, there’s a lot going into that. Yeah, there’s a lot of fear, a lot of stigma, involved in that.
Marty: Let me just jump in here with some locations. Some of the locations that we can say, we’re doing a significant scene and some big scenes at Lucasfilm Ltd., there are two cities in Japan, and then of course all over a couple places in northern California, Las Vegas and then there’s some others.
Rachel: We can’t say the other ones though.
Marty: Yeah, but those ones we can tell you
Rachel: And you’re the first to know. Kermit the Frog arm wave, yay!
WTN: As people are starting to get into these new things in these mediums that you’ve worked in, what’s the best advice you have for the new guys?
Rachel: Honestly, it’s kind of funny because as I started as a panelist, I never thought that I’d be a professional panelist, like a video game expert that people would call on but a lot of people have come to me and asked “how do you get into these panels” and I’m like, well you just have to be passionate about it. Passion drives everything. And I know that sounds cliche, but it’s just the God’s honest truth. If you’re not passionate about it, you can’t do it. You can’t look into it, research it, you can’t want to know more. And the more you want to know, the more that drives your research and that’s why me and Marty are doing this film, is because we’re passionate about it. I mean, I’ve called marty I don’t even know how many times just like “Oh man, E3, you don’t even know what I saw. You don’t even know, oh my goodness.And this thing happened and it was crazy, and what do you think the implications are?” and we have long discussions about these things, so I think that to anybody getting into the industry just don’t stop. Don’t stop pushing the limits of your inquisitive nature.
Marty: The thing about that passion, Rachel, is some people are into gaming because it’s fun and relaxing, and that is a part of it, but for Rachel I know that one thing about her, if there’s anything I want reflected it’s that passion is hard work and she works really hard. She works so hard and that’s a part of it, you’ve got to be fired up. But it’s one of those things like they say, if your work is something you enjoy it’s not work, right?
WTN: Of course
Rachel: Ain’t that the truth,right? It’s still hard though, at the end of the day.
Marty: and you sound like you love what you do.
WTN: Oh yeah, we’ve only been doing this for a little under a year, next month’s gonna be our one year anniversary for the site.
Marty: Congratulations!
WTN: Yeah, thank you. We’ve just made leaps and bounds.Even today we got a new studio to give us review items. It’s just that stuff, the chance to do interviews like this and to make those connections and have those relationships.
Marty: It’s really a great site, I was really excited for you guys and rachel to start a relationship because there’s so many things that you guys could do together. And it’s nicely done, I just wanted to compliment you on that.
WTN: Thank you, Thank you. It took five days of not having family or anything like that, just getting everything ready on my own initially and then bringing everyone on, getting all of the writers and all that, but we got there.
Rachel: I’m not gonna lie, when you said five days without, I thought you meant technology, and my heart stopped for a second. And I realized, Marty, I’m addicted.
Marty: But when you did that, you did the same thing. You took the initiative, and you followed through, and that goes back to that question of “How do you get in there, how do you do it?”
Rachel: You get in there and you do it
Marty: And there’s so many people that really need to want to be involved. they don’t realize that it’s a lot of writing, a lot of research, a lot of sitting under the lamp reading.
Rachel: Before any panel I do, I spend three of four days disconnected from everyone, just researching what I’m talking about.
Marty: And , you know, like Rachel actually reads books
Rachel: Books? what are books?
Marty: She reads books regularly
Rachel: I do, sometimes they’re made of paper. Every time I fly.
Marty: Yeah, but the last thing that anyone wants to see is another movie where everyone is just sitting in a chair talking and you’ve got a little B roll
Rachel: Oh, none of that
Marty: And there’s some like, electronic gamer music playing between sequences. There’s enough of those movies.
Rachel: Are we allowed to allude, stylistically, how colorful it’s going to be?
Marty: I’ll just say that we’re working with special effects companies that are at the top of the game and I’m talking like world feature quality special effects. 4-D, an immersive experience. Rachel, how did you want to describe it?
Rachel: I would just say wildly, wildly colorful and innovative.
Marty: I mean, it’s a documentary, but it’s the best kind of documentary because it doesn’t feel like a documentary. THere’s an arc to it but, uhm
Rachel: Stylistically it’s like nothing you’ve seen before.
Marty:Rachel’s got another feature film with Lionsgate that she’s about to shoot, that’s really exciting, it’s a mystery thriller. We got another really great very cryptic script for her. The video game is big, it’s international. And you asked how that would impact this project, MADNESS. We’re working to incorporate that and it’s a big part of it. The fact that she’s already a walking, talking video game character and she already has these dual realities, the questions and the idea of holding the mirrors together and these other dimensions, all that stuff has opened up in her mind and in this film.
Rachel: It’s like when timing just comes together so appropriately and everything starts to make sense all at once.
Marty: This film is really her story, her mind trip that started with this phone call that was this revelation that she was having where she was playing herself in the game.
Rachel: Which actually happened while we were filming
Marty: And it was the craziest. It was like, let’s start grasping this experience and then let’s find out what’s going to happen next.
Rachel: This all happened in about 2010
Marty:Yeah, this is years in the making. So, there’s also other companies and people involved that will put this in a very visible, public place.
Rachel: And with every level of contributions that we reach, I’ll start releasing more information.
Marty: And that’s all planned and is part of these NDA’s from all over the place is sharing information and those are tiers. And it’s good to update the Idndiegogo to keep it exciting for the people who are involved
Rachel: Because we are! That’s us, yeah.


Want to donate to this documentary or keep up to date with it? Be sure to click the image below to go to the Indiegogo page and check back to We The Nerdy for more on this project!

rachel lara madness poster

About the Author

Sam Liggett

Sam enjoys books and coffee (preferably in tandem) as well as card and board games. She lives in an attic and watches Pokemon (nearly) every day with her husband and their tiny human.