The Wayback, a new U.K. virtual reality project aimed at helping people with dementia and Alzheimer's, launches this week with the first of a series of films that aim to spark memories by recreating memorable or iconic events of the past.
The film immerses viewers in events from the Queen's coronation in 1953 and was shot over two days on a North London street with special detail paid to anything that might spark a memory, including the clothes, the food and even the conversations from the day. Watching the coronation on TV, a street party, games and sing-a-longs are all recreated as authentically as possible to trigger the memories of those who were there on the day.
The Wayback project is the work of a collective including Kevin Thomas at Thomas Thomas Films, who wrote and directed it, Grey London creatives Dan Cole, Andy Garnett and Howard Green, and MPC, which worked on VFX. It was produced by Trent Simpson and Emma Fasson at Thomas Thomas. All the core team have had loved ones affected by dementia and the entire cast and crew are volunteers.
Wayback began with a crowd-funding push on Kickstarter, and the team consulted with care professionals and Dr David Sheard, a leading expert in dementia care and reminiscence methods. Shears says in a statement: "The Way Back virtual reality film offers those living with dementia the opportunity to live in the moment, to go back in time and to just ' be ' again. People don't just remember their past memories, they feel the emotions that went with them. The biggest risk to someone living with dementia is to feel a loss of self esteem, to have no purpose, to feel unreached and not connected with. The Wayback enables families to see the person is not lost to dementia but able to still experience and feel being who they were and share those memories with them."
The 16 minute film ( a short version of which can be viewed here) is available free on the App Store (with Android to come) for anyone to download and is also available for care homes to use.
The team aims to make more films in The Wayback series, including recreating moments from the 1960s and 1970s. It is currently inviting further partnerships, funding and investment.