Michael DeBartolo as Sebastian, Photo by Michael Dekker.
Tribeca Film Festival 2020 Official Selection Cannes XR Marche Du Film Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematographica La Biennale di Vinezia 2020 Venice VR Expanded 77

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The Experience

Queerskins: ark continues the story of Mary-Helen—a devoutly Catholic mother who reconnects with her son, Sebastian, through his diary and her imagination. Envisioning a scene from Sebastian’s diary, she imagines him alive and in love.

Scene 1

Dimly lit attic, mary-helen holds a box while turning the light on.

The viewer finds herself in a dimly lit attic bedroom, a place that seems to be stuck in time, heavy with memory. Here, you assume the passive role of an observer in a 360˚ environment. Unable to move, you can examine the memorabilia- laden surroundings and begin to get an idea of time, place and what the story might be about.Mary-Helen begins reading her son’s diary.

Scene 2

Sebastian and Alex are on the blanket on the beach.

You now find yourself on a beach at dawn. If you look behind. Sebastian and his lover Alex appear, like a daydream nearby in the landscape. We allow Sebastian to break the 4th wall and directly implicate you in the scene. We position you quite close to the two men, just outside their personal space as you listen to their conversation.

Scene 3

Dancers on the beach

The scene crossfades to an abstraction of the beach. A color pallet of yellows, blues, pinks and deep shadow. Sebastian and Alex begin an intimate dance.

Scene 4

Brightly lit attic

You are now back in the attic. It is the magic hour. The room is lit with a flat, golden light, reminiscent of the light on the beach. With a return of detail and color, it feels like the room has come back to life.


Hadley Boyd Hadley Boyd
as Mary-Helen
Drew Moore Drew Moore
as Ed
Michael DeBartolo Michael DeBartolo
as Sebastian


Hadley Boyd Hadley Boyd
as Mary-Helen
Christopher Vo Christopher Vo
as Alex
Michael DeBartolo Michael DeBartolo
as Sebastian


Michael DeBartolo Michael DeBartolo
as Sebastian
Ingrid Jean-Baptiste Ingrid Jean-Baptiste
as Bathilde
Tommie Moore Tommie Moore
as The Doctor

Virtual Installation

Queerskins Home is a virtual interactive installation housed on the free, multiplayer virtual reality social media platform VRChat. The installation functions as a kind of 3 dimension story space for the story behind Queerskins: ARK. Here, in this dreamlike interior of a house and a Missouri town, you can explore the memories left behind by Sebastian, a gay man estranged from his rural Catholic Missouri family who dies of AIDS in 1990, his mother, Mary-Helen, and his lover, Alex. Pick up and examine original and crowd-sourced images and spatialized audio objects curated from Queerskins, our Peabody award-winning transmedia project a decade in the making and still expanding.

Queerskins Home in VRChat

From left to right: choreographer Brandon Powers, writer/director Illya Szilak, supervising producer Kathleen Fox and executive producer Sarah Vick invite you to join the fun in the “Queerskins Home” world in VRChat.

Queerskins Home attic space in VRChat

Attic. In the attic, you can revisit the box of Sebastian’s belongings seen in “Queerskins: a love story” and “Queerskins: ARK” VR experiences. Look inside and pick up his diary. Follow the sounds of the ocean to the window, and poke your head out.

Queerskins Home foyer space in VRChat

Hallway. Portraits feature visitors from the “Queerskins: a love story” VR installation posing with an object that resonates with their own story of love and loss. Look in the mirror and add your own avatar to the queer family photos.

Queerskins Home closer space in VRChat

Closet. A neon heart emits a lurid red glow, as sounds of churchgoers’ singing “Amazing Grace” filter through the back wall.

Queerskins Home Mary-Helen's room in VRChat

Mary-Helen’s room. In Mary-Helen’s room papered in roses (her favorite), each lipstick on the vanity acts as a spatial audio object revealing some of her secrets.


Queerskins: ARK creators and artists talk with Executive Producer Sarah Vick about the making of this heart-wrenching drama and the potential of volumetric video.

Co-stars Michael DeBartolo (Sebastian) and Christopher Vo (Alex) rehearse on Intel Studio’s volumetric stage and El Matador Beach in Los Angeles, California.

Behind the Scenes during production of Queerskins: ARK at Intel Studios.

Created by

Illya Szilak is an independent scholar, writer and new media artist. In her art practice, she uses open source media and collaborations forged via the Internet to create multimedia narrative installations online.

Shaped by her experience as a physician, her artistic practice explores mortality, embodiment, identity, and belief in a media inundated by an increasingly virtual world.

Cyril Tsiboulski is co-founder and creative director at Cloudred, a digital design practice that is both an independent content-producing creative studio and a service-based agency with global clientele across corporate, government, civic and cultural domains. He is also a faculty member at New York University where he teaches in the Digital Communications and Media Program.


In Collaboration With:

Choreographer Brandon Powers creates seamless visceral experiences at the intersection of theatre, dance, and technology. The form of these experiences are determined and constructed by fusing techniques from by background in immersive theatre, musical theatre, and Modern dance. Brandon is committed to investigating technology’s effect on our culture, minds and private experiences by creating experiences which embrace technology’s role in our lives as a connector and community building tool.


Hadley Boyd

Michael DeBartolo

Christopher Vo

Drew Moore

Writer & Director
Illya Szilak

Creative & Technical Director
Cyril Tsiboulski

Brandon Powers

Associate Choreographer & Movement Coach
Christopher Vo

Director of Volumetric & 360 Photography
Cory Allen

Wilbert Roget, II

Supervising Sound Designer
Andrew Martin

Executive Producers
Diego Prilusky
Sarah Vick
Illya Szilak

Supervising Producer
Kathleen Fox

Associate Producer
Allen Yee

Volumetric Production

First AD & Director of Stage Operations
Jeff McPhee

Production Supervisor
Ana Miren Achaval

Operations Supervisor
Kevin Hanson

Volumetric Operators
John ‘JB’ Battaglia
Brian Van Guilder
Clint Hudson

Blake Chapman
Adam Goldfaden

Script Supervisor
Cameron Greely

Production Assistants
Jonathan Marcus
Tyree Bailey

Associate Producer
Marcie Greene

Audio Capture by Ecco VR
Benedict Green
Joel Douek
Igor Kogan

Hair & Make-Up
Jenna Nelson

Set Medic
Cynthia Hollis


VFX & Volumetric Technology

Post-Production Supervisor
Daniel Rivas Perpen

Head of Product Development
Dave Smiddy

Volumetric Pipeline
Technical Director
Mohit Deopujari

Volumetric Software Engineer
Dmitry Lavrov

Creative Technologist
Blake Lucas

Software Architect
Phillip Krejov

IT Supervisor
Eddie Bezalel

Post-Production Coordinator
Jill Chipley

360 Production

Color & Finish

Colorist & Finishing Artist
Juan Salvo

Sound Mixer
Laura Cunningham

Chris Langan

VFX Supervisor
Mike Florio

Hair & Makeup
Kathleen Fox

Attic Piano Performance
Silas Walker


Immersive Development

Lead Unity Engineer
Elliott Mitchell

Lead Graphics Engineer
Jason Booth

Unity Developers
Alvaro Sierra, Jr
Tess Leiman

3D Environment Artists
Pat Goodwin
Guilherme Rambelli

Spanish UI/Subtitles
Erika Pardo

Italian UI/Subtitles
Silvia Colarossi

Polish UI/Subtitles
Monika Górska-Olesińska

VR Intern
Zach Milonas


Post-Production Sound Services

Supervising Sound Editor
Kevin Bolen

Technical Audio Designers
Dan Johnson
Jonathan Do

Dialog Editor
Ryan Cota


Music Department

Jacob Eliett

Wilbert Roget, II

Cello, Recordist
Bradley Hawkins

Copyist, Recording Assistant
Benjamin Ash

Post-Production Design Services

Blue Room Post - Behind the Scenes
Tim Newenham
Andre Enzensberger

Graphic Designer
Willy Wong

Michael Dekker
Asya Gorovits
Billy Huynh


Legal Services

Intel Counsel
Colleen Dewhirst

Pelosi Wolf Effron & Spates Fancy Rainbow Counsel
John Pelosi, Esq.


Special Thanks

Susan and John Pelosi,
UX testing participants,
California State Parks, El Matador Beach


Story Development Biennale College - La Biennale di Venezia

Head of Programme
Savina Neirotti

Heads of Studies
Michel Reilhac
Jane Williams

Story Developers
Naomi Roth
Luigi Ventriglia
Aida Holly Nambi

Visual Advisors
Avinash Changa
Tupac Martir
Coline Delbaere

Creative Technologists
Carl Guyenette
Leen Segers
Amaury La Burthe

Paul Tyler

Rajiv Rainier

Pitch Trainer
Stefano Tealdi

Programme Coordinator
Valentina Bellomo

Lab Coordinator
Marc Lopato