Exploring Trauma & Healing: A Journey with Documentary Filmmaker Juliet Brown


Juliet Brown, an accomplished documentary filmmaker with over two decades of experience, has a unique focus on exploring trauma in various contexts, including genocide, ecocide, and gender dysphoria. After completing her Masters in Documentary Direction at the National Film and Television School, Juliet’s journey as a director placed her on a pioneering career path. Her work captures the human experience in profound ways, and now, with “Take Me Home,” she’s pushing the boundaries of storytelling and therapeutic exploration with her first interactive documentary.

Juliet’s methodology combines user-centered design with her interest in mental health. She’s developed this approach as part of a PhD by Film Practice in UCL’s Anthropology department. Her interactive documentary, “Take Me Home”, presented on Eagle 3D’s pixel streaming platform, is the result of her PhD research process.

The Unreal Project: Bridging Documentary and Mental Health

Juliet Brown’s “Take Me Home” represents a remarkable convergence of documentary filmmaking and mental health support, pushing the boundaries of conventional storytelling and forging a path to a more ethical and meaningful form of documentary production. It’s a venture that’s not just about technology but about healing, self-discovery, and a deeper understanding of our own experiences. This project is as groundbreaking as it is compassionate.

Image 1: Take Me Home

Understanding “Take Me Home”

At the heart of “Take Me Home” lies a fundamental question: how can the medium of documentary filmmaking be used not just to inform and entertain but to heal and empower? Juliet Brown’s answer is a dynamic and interactive approach that allows participants to engage with their own narratives in ways that traditional documentaries cannot. The project explores the delicate balance between triggering memories and providing a safe and healing environment for participants. It doesn’t just aim to capture stories; it seeks to facilitate a therapeutic journey that can help individuals grapple with their own pasts.

“Take me Home” addresses the topic of childhood trauma at British boarding schools, but Juliet feels that the project’s fundamental principles could be applied to other mental health narratives.  The core concept is to represent individuals as abstract figures, enabling them to engage with their inner child selves. This novel approach aims to make the experience less overwhelming and more therapeutic. One of the project’s findings is the abstract representation worked better than striving for digital photorealism. The outcome indicates that the blank symbolism of the squiggly figures allows the player to project more freely onto them. This discovery runs counter to the industry’s push towards photorealism. Earlier in the research, a more photorealistic avatar depiction had led to a sense of confrontation rather than safety for the client which is not helpful in this psychotherapeutic setting. In an earlier iteration, the external aesthetic details of teeth, hair and eyes falling into the uncanny valley distracted from the project’s goal of accessing the client’s internal world. Juliet explains, “It’s been a delicate balance, a dance between triggering memories and providing a safe and healing environment for participants.” In terms of the degree of photorealism in the Unreal environments themselves, Juliet concedes that further playtesting and funding would be required to test how the degree of realism impacts the client.

Image 2: Understanding “Take Me Home”

Technical Artist: Tom Harle, Environment artist: Jane Bunce, Pixel streaming: Ossian Whiley.

Pixel Streaming: Making the Experience Accessible

To ensure that “Take Me Home” can be experienced by a broad and diverse audience, Juliet Brown and her team turned to pixel streaming. This transformative technology makes it possible for people to engage with the interactive documentary via the web, eliminating the need for specialized VR equipment. The distance created by pixel streaming also provides a layer of separation that can make the experience more comfortable for participants, particularly for those who might find it triggering. The pixel streaming technology takes the interactive documentary beyond the boundaries of traditional media, making it accessible to anyone with an internet connection and a device, thereby transcending age and background.

What makes pixel streaming truly powerful is its ability to offer a sense of distance and separation, which is especially important in a project like “Take Me Home.” It ensures that participants can engage with their own narratives without becoming overwhelmed or triggered by the experience. Pixel streaming creates a safe and healing space where individuals can explore their past and embark on a therapeutic journey of self-discovery.

The technology makes the experience accessible to a wider audience, breaking down barriers of entry. It doesn’t require individuals to invest in specialized equipment or navigate complex software. It’s as simple as opening a web browser and connecting to the project, making it a user-friendly and inclusive platform for all. Juliet explains, “In our final experiment, we chose pixel streaming to address the challenge of users feeling isolated, overwhelmed and dissociating from their bodies in the VR headset. This technology provided a safer, less intense experience, creating a more comfortable environment for our participants.”

Eagle 3D Streaming: A Perfect Companion

Eagle 3D Streaming plays a pivotal role in bringing Juliet’s project to life. The platform’s capabilities are perfectly aligned with the project’s goals of accessibility and user-friendliness. It offers a straightforward and accessible way for individuals to engage with the interactive documentary without the need for extensive technical knowledge or additional equipment.

One of the standout features of Eagle 3D Streaming is its commitment to making playtesting accessible for users of all ages. This not only broadens the reach of “Take Me Home” but also ensures that more people can benefit from this unique and therapeutic experience.

Juliet Brown’s “Take Me Home” and Eagle 3D Streaming form an ideal partnership. Their collaboration ensures that the project’s message of healing and self-discovery reaches a broader audience, with a special focus on those who may need it the most. This partnership bridges the gap between documentary filmmaking, mental health support, and cutting-edge technology, providing a valuable resource for those interested in exploring these themes.

Juliet Brown’s transition from traditional documentary filmmaking to the world of interactive media is a testament to innovation in ethical storytelling. “Take Me Home” and its partnership with Eagle 3D Streaming showcase the power of technology in crafting therapeutic experiences and offers another way to help demystify psychotherapy. This journey underscores how technology can drive meaningful change in documentary filmmaking and emotional well-being, emphasizing the importance of embracing new solutions and ethical storytelling. This partnership offers hope for a brighter future, where innovation can aid those in need of mental health support.

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