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Project empathy


a collection of virtual reality experiences that help us see the world through the eyes of another

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Project empathy


a collection of virtual reality experiences that help us see the world through the eyes of another

 

Benefit Studio's virtual reality series, Project Empathy is a collection of thoughtful, evocative and surprising experiences by some of the finest creators in entertainment, technology and journalism.

 

Each film is designed to create empathy through a first-person experience--from being a child inside the U.S. prison system to being a widow cast away from society in India.  Individually, each of the films in this series presents its filmmaker's unique vision, portraying an intimate experience through the eyes of someone whose story has been lost or overlooked and yet is integral to the larger story of our global society. Collectively, these creatively distinct films weave together a colorful tapestry of what it means to be human today. 

 
 
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Original experiences


A watershed moment for technology and social change

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Original experiences


A watershed moment for technology and social change

 

This is the first attempt at narrative story-creation in virtual reality for social impact. 

 
 
 

We have brought together top Hollywood talent and the best in virtual reality and technology to push the boundaries of social impact VR.  The collection of virtual reality shorts is inspired by true experiences.   

Starting with the U.S. prison system, our story-creating process involves a deep immersion into the emotional and physical experiences of thousands of people behind bars, the family members and friends of those people, as well as individuals representing the justice system.  Our creative process is a collaboration between our own original reporting and research, technology, film production, and voices from the inside. 

 
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Popularizing a new narrative


Humanizing hot button issues

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Popularizing a new narrative


Humanizing hot button issues

 

No meaningful change can take place without first building a new public narrative and changing the hearts and minds of those who put our elected officials in office. For example, policymakers did not pass gay rights legislation until a public majority demanded it. And the public did not reach a necessary critical mass until the narrative of gay rights changed from one of disease, crime, and fear to one of love (marriage), family, and equality. At the heart of real justice reform are stories of love, redemption, and second chances.

 
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Why Empathy


Closing the gap between "us" and "them"

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Why Empathy


Closing the gap between "us" and "them"

Empathy forges a path forward for us, even when we disagree with another's behavior or beliefs. Through empathy, we are able to identify the needs of ourselves and others, we gain tools to communicate more effectively and can more easily find solutions to problems we never realized existed.  Empathy is the stepping stone to tolerance and well-being, the bedrock to any strong community.

 
 
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Why Virtual Reality


Humanization like we've never experienced before

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Why Virtual Reality


Humanization like we've never experienced before

 

For the first time in history, VR gives us an opportunity to more efficiently and sustainably change public perception.  Unlike traditional media, VR is an empathy machine and allows us to feel for a moment what it’s like to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.  

 
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Why Prison?


Why we're beginning the series in the U.S. prison system.

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Why Prison?


Why we're beginning the series in the U.S. prison system.

 
 

Enhancing public understanding

For many years, our prison system has been understood through the lens of a single, hot-button issue: crime. Using this single issue to define a larger system of inadequacies has prevented a meaningful discussion around prison reform. By evolving the conversation to include a broader and more honest array of subject matters,  we invite a healthier and more productive discussion around the many reasons why prison reform is needed. According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, voters are ready and willing to reform the criminal justice system in ways that reduce the size and cost of the prison system while improving outcomes.  Yet, for the families and communities most impacted by the prison system, many will remain vulnerable to cultural biases, stigma, prejudice and general a public misunderstanding of their lives.

In addition to showing the films to We will show Left Behind to mothers and parents, Prey to educators and soon-to-be fathers and mothers, and The Letter to wardens and mental health professionals. By making this series as accessible as possible, we’re able to share these films with groups that will likely benefit from them.

 

One-in-a-generation opportunity for policy change

Prison reform is a national priority backed by bipartisan support and millions of Americans.  On the Day of Empathy, our non-profit partners will storm all 50 state capitals and Capitol Hill with the VR films in order to influence the perception, interest and understanding of bipartisan justice reform legislation that will be introduced in January 2017.  

 
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The Day of Empathy


Using virtual reality to change political reality

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The Day of Empathy


Using virtual reality to change political reality

 

On March 1, 2017, our nonprofit partner The Dream Corps will activate hundreds of Ambassadors of Empathy to bring virtual reality headsets into all 50 state capitals and the U.S. Congress and ask thousands of policy-makers to watch the Project Empathy shorts. Key decision-makers will experience the human consequences of a criminal justice system.

The Ambassadors will function as an unprecedented marketing and distribution network for VR technology and content. By delivering a set of powerful, emotional experiences to our nation’s lawmakers, the Day of Empathy will accelerate the bipartisan drive to transform the U.S. prison system. 

 
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Measuring Impact


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Measuring Impact


 

How effectively can we create empathy? To find out, we plan to study the impact of our series on audiences by drawing upon several research methods, including surveys, focus groups, and quantitative and qualitative data analysis. By partnering with leading nonprofits that measure the impact of content on people’s attitudes and behavior, we will gain a comprehensive understanding of our films’ ability to create change on an individual and societal level.