This week’s short film from the FilmQuest Film Festival and GeekTyrant team up is the virtual reality sci-fi romance film Virtually, which comes from writer, director, and producer Patrick Hogan.

In the story, “Bixby makes her way through a post-apocalyptic landscape, scavenging for food, water, and other resources. In the course of her wanderings, she discovers a virtual reality machine in an abandoned cabin.

“The virtual world is a marked relief from the woman’s own. Lush, peaceful and tropical, it’s a beautiful beach with a gorgeous view of an eternal sunset. And she’s not alone: a man named Nate is there as well, and the woman falls in love with him, despite the bugs in the virtual reality equipment.

“But as her food and resources run out, the woman is forced to make a decision: abandon the machine and her lover, or face certain starvation and death.”

Check out the interview with the director and short film below and tell us what you think!

Without spoilers, tell us what your film is about, its characters, and its themes. Is it a proof of concept, or a standalone story? 

A festival favorite that has won over 20 awards, including 9 best film honors, VIRTUALLY tells the story of a woman struggling to survive alone in a post-apocalyptic wasteland who discovers a virtual-reality machine and escapes from her loneliness into a scenic virtual world. When she falls in love with a man inside this virtual world, she must choose between her love and her life in this romantic science fiction short film.

What was the inspiration for your film? How did you come up with the idea?

VIRTUALLY began when I was walking down the hallway at work one day and thinking about the prior few years of my time writing and working on scripts with various producers and realizing that not only had none of the scripts been produced but none of the projects were stories that really resonated with me. And while walking down this hallway I made a promise to myself that I would make a film, not just write it, but actually make a film that I myself would have been a fan of as an audience member.

I wanted to make a movie that I wouldn’t just be proud of as a filmmaker but also make a movie that I would love as an audience member. So right there, while standing in the hallway, I came up with the setting and the main character and the basic story, based on my love of science fiction and more specifically allegorical science fiction; stories set on a distant world or in a distant future that comment on the human condition and are applicable to our world of today. And before long I had come up with a story that is a study in survival with the central theme being, “Is survival really survival if you are all alone?

Is life worth living without human interaction? Are you really alive if you are completely alone?” It took slightly more than two years to get from that moment standing in the hallway and promising myself that I would make this film to now sending the finished film out into the world.

It’s been a wonderful journey of setbacks and obstacles and special moments made out of adversity, working with friends and making many new friendships along the way and I now have a final film that I am quite proud to have made and very much excited to slip into a theater seat and watch as just another audience member.

Tell us about yourself. What is your background? How long have you been a filmmaker?

I’m from the Pacific island of Guam (where America’s day begins). I’ve always been a storyteller and writer and gravitated towards filmmaking in my teens years and then attended Northwestern University in Chicago and received my MFA in Film and TV production from USC film school.

My thesis film THE BUSINESS CARD was an award-winning short that had the distinction of being the first student film ever sold to an airline for in-flight entertainment. PROMISE ME TOMORROW, my feature debut – screened at over 26 festivals around the world, won 11 Best Film awards, and was picked up for distribution by Porchlight Entertainment. It aired on Lifetime Network, was distributed in over 40 countries, and is available to watch on Amazon, Vudu and Tubi currently.

While prepping a couple feature projects, I have kept scratching the filmmaking itch with short films and in the past 5 years I’ve directed 4 short films in a variety of genres and styles. Two of them, the sci-fi/romance VIRTUALLY and the sci-fi//horror KILLING TIME are currently available to view on YouTube, and the other two, the teen social media drama SHATTER THE GLASS and the horror/comedy QUIET! MOM’S WORKING! are currently playing on the festival circuit.

In addition to my filmmaking, I’m a highly accomplished supervising sound editor with more than 100 television shows and movies to my credit. He’s earned 10 Emmy nominations and 3 Golden Reel Awards and I’m currently the sound supervisor for the hit shows UMBRELLA ACADEMY, FIRE COUNTRY and COBRA KAI.

What inspires you to work within genre cinema and tell these kind of stories?

In regards to my short film, VIRTUALLY, I love allegorical sci-fi and how you can tackle really big and important topics but not come across as preachy.  They is why grounded sci-fi is so great – when you keep it grounded in reality and just add the one fantastical element, you create a window into the human experience without it seeming like an after-school special. Several of my favorite tv series and movies of all time would fall under the grounded, sci-fi theme. I love writing it, love making it, and love watching it.

What was your favorite part of the filmmaking process for this project?

Filming out in the desert with my wife and daughter (who was the stand-in for the lead character when she was suddenly unable to make our b-roll day). It was just the three of us, out in the desert, having fun and filming a labor of love. It doesn’t get any better than that.

What are you most proud of with this film?

I’m most proud of the audience response to the film – they really get, they really like it. My father told me afterwards, “This was much better than I expected.” Which we all laughed at – but then what he meant was that he knew it was going to be good – but I didn’t know it was going to be such a touching love story – and that caught him off guard. I like pleasantly surprising audiences and making them laugh or cry or feel something keep in their souls. I think Virtually tugs on the heart-strings in a good way. And movies that can do that are always something to treasure.

What is a favorite story or moment from the making of the film you’d like to share? 

There were no auditions for actors or interviews for crew. This film was made with friends and family and it was a fantastic experience from beginning to end. But I think my favorite moment was on the final day of filming when we shot on the beach and the two actors acted out the entire film in silhouette with the setting sun behind them and the visual was just so beautiful and I realized in that moment that the entire film was going to work and even without any sound or dialog playing, just with the visuals the story would work.

What was your most challenging moment or experience you had while making your film?

We had a very limited budget and many locations scattered over a large area – mountains, deserts, the beach…In fact, on the final day of filming we realized that it had been exactly one year to the day from our first day of filming — Needing specific weather, combined with actor and crew availability, meant that the 4 main shooting dates were stretched out over an entire year. But it was worth it!

If it did, how did your film change or differ from its original concept during pre-production, production, and/or post-production? How has this changed how you’ll approach future projects as a result?

It really didn’t change. Logistics and budget restrictions meant some things changed and we had to be creative. But the feeling you got when you read the script is exactly the same when you watch the finished film. In fact, the DP, Chris, told me after the cast and crew screening that he had never shot a film that was so exactly the same in final tone and story as the script and had carried every beat and emotion from the page to the screen.

Who were some of your collaborators and actors on the film? How did you start working with each other?

Chris was the DP, we had worked together previously on my feature film, where he was the Best Boy, and I had been hoping for many years to get to work together again and was super excited that we were able to work it out.

The lead actress, Katie, was a friend of a friend and I had helped out with sound on several projects she had acted in, so I knew her work really well and I knew from my friend what a good person she was – and when she read the script she instantly got it and got the character and I knew she’d be perfect.

Wolé was someone I had worked with before in my capacity as a supervising sound editor – he was a villain for one of the seasons of Vampire Diaries that I did the sound on. So I had seen his work and had worked with him on the ADR for the show and show how talented and how nice he is – so he was the very first person I thought of when I wrote the part in the film.

Christy, the composer, had been the pianist at my church, and I didn’t know she was a composer and she didn’t know that I was a filmmaker and one day after the service she heard me mention that I was editing a short film and looking for a composer and so she stepped up and let me know and holy smokes, she is a fantastic composer and I was so lucky that she overheard me talking. And we’ve worked on several short films and other projects since. She is amazing. And Ana, the producer, is my wife. So that was easy. I love her and love working with her.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received as a filmmaker and what would you like to say to new filmmakers?

The best advice is to know what you want, trust your vision, and enroll people in that vision and then encourage them and support them to run with it. Find people who are better than you at the other crafts of filmmaking – give them clear direction on what you want, then let them do their thing. Let good, talented people share their art with your film, and then everyone will talk about what a great director you are.

What are your plans for your career and what do you hope this film does for it? What kind of stories would you like to tell moving forward?

I’m a long way into my career, so while plans never turn out the way you envisioned, I’m happy with what I’m doing – working in sound on big shows, while making my smaller films and constantly working towards direct something even bigger and bolder. I like telling stories that touch, move and inspire. That make people feel – whether with laughs or tears or cries. I love the power of genre filmmaking as well, and hope to keep making films that surprise audiences in all genres.

What is your next project and when can we expect to see it? 

I have a feature script I wrote for some producers based on a true-story book, about a women who goes to Guam for the first time as an adult to search for the father who abandoned her as a little child. It’s a story I feel uniquely qualified to write and direct and I love the script and hope to find the financing or connections to get this going. And while working on that, I have one very unique and special very short horror film with a strong sound component that I hope to make this year, and then I have a low-budget sci-fi/romance feature film that I’d love to make next. Plus I’m doing the sound for several TV shows this year. So, as always, I’m keeping very busy on the creative front.

Where can we find more of your work and where can interested parties contact you?

You can find out everything I’m up to at my website: Or you can check out my instagram: @ppatrickhogan

Bonus Question #1: What is your all-time favorite film?

Breaking Away and Star Wars (I can’t choose one)

Bonus Question #2: What is the film that most inspired you to become a filmmaker and/or had the most influence on your work?

Star Wars and Breaking Away

Joey Paur

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VIRTUALLY Sci-Fi Short Film and Interview with Director Patrick Hogan — GeekTyrant