Light from aside: 

A screenwriter's perspective in virtual reality

In partial completion of a PhD in Artistic Research in Film and 

Related Audio-Visual Arts at The Norwegian Film School, Inland 

Norway University of Applied Sciences, 2023.

By Cecilie Levy


Screen shot, vertical slice, Finding Frida 2023



This PhD project in artistic research by Cecilie Levy investigates the language of spatial storytelling in virtual reality through artistic research. Drawing on screenwriting practice and theory, as well as creative documentary approaches such as room-scale virtual reality design, the conceptualisation and partial production of the experience Finding Frida is central to this investigation. In its final form, this single-user, room-scale virtual reality experience will be approximately 20 minutes long; it is intended for general audiences, including those who are unfamiliar with virtual reality.


Beyond the reconstruction of a personal narrative – that of forgotten artist Frida Hansen’s life and art – the experience seeks to combine linear storytelling devices with spatial ‘dreamscapes’, giving the spectator access to the protagonist’s private memory world, through representational spaces.


A vertical slice from the VR experience was presented publicly at The Norwegian Film School and at Qvisten XTND in Oslo, June 2023. The vertical slice is a test-scene in VR that will serve as an illustration for the virtual reality concept, giving an impression of transitions, interactivity, and spatial storytelling. The test can be viewed individually in the VR Lab at the NFS (Norwegian Film School) in Oslo and lasts approximately seven minutes per viewer.


An essay, available on this page, presents the conceptual and creative groundwork for the work-in-progress storytelling in Finding Frida. The essay also seeks to convey insights from a writer’s point of view of the hurdles and challenges of transitioning from temporal to spatial storytelling in virtual reality – and the aligning of narrational and stylistic choices in an experiential, technically complex and innovative form. An appendix provides samples from the script at different stages of development.



Sketch prototype

Video documentation of the vertical slice from 'Finding Frida'' presented publicly in Oslo in June 2023. This video forms part of the permanent documentation and archival of the artistic doctoral outcome but was not included in the material evaluated by the PhD assessment committee.

Sketch prototype