From the very beginnings of cinema’s creation as an entertainment medium, there has perhaps been one constant goal for filmmakers – always strive to find ways that allow for audiences to experience something new. Throughout the ages there have been all kinds of gimmicks that adhere to this effort, from 3D to Smell-O-Vision to different endings being played in different theaters.
But as cinemas continue to struggle against the ongoing influx of home video and streaming providers, entirely new ideas for getting audiences into theaters seem few and far between. This is surprising, considering the amount of technology available to filmmakers today is far and beyond what it’s ever been. And although actor Woody Harrelson is far more likely to be discussed for his stance on marijuana legislation than his efforts to break new ground as a filmmaker, things may soon change in that regard.
As reported by IndieWire, Harrelson is getting set to release what will be known as the world’s first live-streamed film, Lost in London. Set during one turbulent night in London and based on Harrelson’s own experiences, Lost in London will be shot on location and simultaneously live-streamed into more than 500 theaters worldwide on January 19th. Harrelson will direct and star as himself, alongside Owen Wilson and country music legend Willie Nelson. A trailer for Lost in London in which Harrelson explains the challenging endeavor he’s about to attempt can be seen above. Lost in London will also mark Woody Harrelson’s directorial debut.
Lost in London is based on an incident from 2002 in which the actor broke an ashtray and the lock of a door on a London black cab that he was riding in. After fleeing from the cab on foot, he jumped into a second cab and was chased through the streets of London by the first cab. When police stopped Harrelson’s taxi, the actor fled on foot, was chased down, arrested and spent the night in jail. Now nearly 15 years on from that bizarre event, Harrelson describes it as “one of the worst nights in my life that I thought would make good comedy” and has come up with a somewhat ingenious method of showcasing it to the world.
Harrelson has previously stated that although he and the cast have rehearsed the film in its various locations around London, one of the most frightening aspects of the entire project is the weather. London is known for its finicky climate and rain is a very common component – especially in January. It’s gutsy, risk-taking stuff on Harrelson’s part and that’s exactly what makes it all so interesting. All gimmicks aside, even if Harrelson and his team avoid the potential technical pratfalls of taking on something of this magnitude, the actual story itself will still need to be worth watching.
Most first time directors have enough on their plates simply trying to ensure that their first film is a good one. Woody Harrelson is fighting that battle, along with unpredictable weather and technology never before used in this manner. Even if the film isn’t particularly interesting, Harrelson will have done something that no other filmmaker has done, and in doing so may spearhead an entirely new method of filmmaking.
Lost in London hits select theaters on January 19th, 2017.