Alex Ruhl

"Leicester is truly a melting pot of amazing culture with extremely talented, but humble creatives"

What do you do?

I’m a virtual reality creator. Primarily I direct and produce films that are watched in a VR headset. I also curate and facilitate the VR cinemas at Phoenix Leicester as well as speak internationally on the subject of immersive storytelling.

How did you get to where you are?

Wow it’s been a hell of a ride so far. I studied television production at the University of Leeds and as soon as I graduated got a job at ITV Studios. I worked in the television industry for 4 years on various shows for BBC Three, Sky, Channel 4 etc - I should have been living the dream! But I wasn’t happy so I pretty much quit my job and moved out of London overnight to embark on new adventures. I travelled the world and lived on 2 different continents for a year before stumbling across a technology that would go on to change my life: Virtual Reality.

From the second I put on a VR headset I knew I had to find out more about creating content for the medium. Four years later I’m an award winning VR creator whose work has premiered internationally, I’ve given a TEDx talk about how VR can change the world and I continue to be a thought leader in the space shaping this entirely new creative medium. It’s been very exciting!

Why do you love what you do?

I’m fascinated by technology and how it shapes society and the way we interact with each other. I mean look at the time's right now. As I’m writing this we’re 4 days into the coronavirus lock down, the whole country has come to a complete standstill and yet technology has allowed me to speak to my best friends who are on the opposite sides of the world right now and to feel close to my parents who I can’t physically see. It’s phenomenal when you think about it.

But now imagine that you could actually feel like you were physically with your loved ones right now, even though you’re actually at home alone on the sofa. In fact imagine being able to be anywhere in the world right now all with the click of a button - to walk along the beach in Hawaii or be skiing in the alps. That’s the potential power virtual reality has. It makes the impossible possible and I think it would fundamentally change people’s lives for the better. That’s why I’m passionate about what I do.

Why are you based in Leicester?

You know I actually grew up in Leicester and honestly, for 18 years I couldn’t wait to get away. I had all these amazing visions about what it would be like to live in all these big amazing cities around the world. I moved to Leeds then London, Sydney in Australia then Vancouver in Canada… and I have to tell you, there’s no place like home. Leicester has changed a lot since I grew up here. I moved back in 2017 and was amazed at it’s thriving artistic scene.

Leicester is truly a melting pot of amazing culture with extremely talented, but humble creatives and as well as a cool independent scene in the city, it has the most beautiful countryside towns.

What next?

I’m working on a really exciting new VR drama BAD NEWS which will hopefully be showing later this year at Phoenix Cinema. It’s the first ever VR commission from the BFI Network which is an incredible honour. I’ll be posting behind the scenes progress every step of the way for that project on my social media so feel free to follow along.

And I would say if you’re a creative person and haven’t already, definitely check out some VR content and think about jumping in. It’s the wild west out here because it’s a totally new medium. Imagine being one of the first people to make films when cinema was born? That’s the opportunity you have here people!

Social media accounts to follow:

Twitter: @alexmakesvr

Instagram: @alexmakesvr

Linkedin: alexmakesvr