Submarine Channel

Virtual Reality

The Imaginary Friend

The Imaginary Friend by Steye Hallema

The Imaginary Friend invites you to take part in the vivid imagination of Daniel, a grieving eight-year-old struggling with the line between reality and fantasy.

Become Daniel’s imaginary friend and let him share his world with you. Discover his joys and anxieties, even help him fight his demons head-on. However, as you spend time together, Daniel’s surroundings don’t quite understand. Why is he talking to himself? Is he crazy? When his father intends to fix him, Daniel needs to figure out his feelings before disconnecting from reality completely…

With its unique point of view in storytelling and the latest technical developments in VR, The Imaginary Friend presents an intimate experience unmatched in the VR landscape. Daniel sees, talks and interacts with you, allowing you to form a deeply personal bond with the boy. Through interactive gameplay, you don’t only push the story forward but also actively participate in Daniel’s life.

The Imaginary Friend

Eight-year-old Daniel has recently lost his mother… With his feelings all muddled, he is deeply afraid that the Kill Ghosts are out to get his happy memories of her! To fight them off, he thinks up YOU, the player. Finally having someone to talk to, he excitedly begins to share his world with you. However, the more Daniel engages with you, the more the world around begins to question his sanity. Is he talking to himself? Bullied by his classmates, Daniel retreats further into his imagination. A worried father tries to intervene, taking Daniel to the ‘head-fixers’!

After the visit to the hospital Daniel isn’t quite sure any more about what’s real and what’s imagined. He forcefully attempts to remove you from his mind. However, as soon as the Kill Ghosts attack again, you return. When the monsters get the upper hand, you and Daniel take flight. The words of Daniel’s mother give strength, helping Daniel realise he himself is in control of his imagination.

The Imaginary Friend

The Imaginary Friend is a production from Studio Biarritz in co-production with Submarine Channel and Cassete for timescapes (Belgium), in collaboration with 4DR Studios (NL), WildVreemd (NL), Apvis, Demute (Be) and Dat!School.

It has been supported by Netherlands Film Fund, Creative Industries fund NL, Brabrant C, the Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF), and National Film And Moving Image Centre (CNC).

Platforms: VR.
Estimated release: 2023

The Imaginary Friend was presented as part of the Gap Financing Market at the Venice Biennale and VR DAYS EUROPE / IFFR PRO in 2018. Floreal Films and Small (France) were part of the Development of the project in 2019 & 2020.

About Steye Hallema

Son of a world champion magician in the seventies, Steye is a composer, director and inventor. He seems to creatively trick with all sorts of media and has made various innovative music videos with his band Steye & the Bizonkid. Together with his laboratory WildVreemd (Wild[framed]), he pushes the boundaries of a media-experience. The main focus of WildVreemd is creating Virtual Reality experiences.

Steye worked as a creative at the critically acclaimed multimedia theater group PIPS:lab and was creative lead of VPRO’s Medialab. He created the world’s first 360º Music video in 2009. His VR music video What do we care4 was nominated for a UK Music Award in 2015 and is a worldwide hit amongst VR early adopters. His latest VR collaboration Ashes to Ashes – a Submarine Channel production – won gold at the dutch VR Awards.


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Character Design by Fons Schiedon

Fons Schiedon designs the imaginary friend. Schiedon is a director, designer and artist, working across all visual mediums from his studio in New York City.

He has created video content for Beyoncé‘s formation world tour, collaborated with FKA Twigs on her live experience, made an animated graphic novel of Mozart’s Magic Flute and directed music videos for international recording artists. Back in the day he created one of the very first interactive graphic novels ever for Submarine Channel, The Killerand the short animation In a Forest.

His work has appeared in The Guardian, the New York Times, Elephant, It’s Nice That, Vice, Adweek, Creative Review, and more. It was shown at Cannes, Pictoplasma, Annecy; and broadcast by PBS, BBC, Arte, and others.





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