On March 25, Hulu is exclusively premiering a new film called What Lives Inside, directed by two-time Oscar-winner Robert Stromberg, starring recent Oscar winner J.K. Simmons, Colin Hanks, and Catherine O’Hara, and featuring a soundtrack created by James Newton Howard. Its other star is less Hollywood, if still creative in its own way–the new the new Dell Venue 8 7000 Series tablet with Intel RealSense technology.
What Lives Inside is the fourth installment of Intel’s “Inside Films” series, dating back to a partnership with Toshiba, and agency Pereira & O’Dell, that started in 2011 with Inside, starring Emmy Rossum and directed by D.J. Caruso. It was followed by 2012’s The Beauty Inside starring Topher Grace, and 2013’s The Power Inside starring Harvey Keitel.
This year’s film, divided into four episodes, is about the son of an absentee father (Hanks) who finds himself on a journey of self-discovery after the death of his father (Simmons), a well-known and acclaimed children’s puppeteer who was widely celebrated for his creativity. The son discovers a mysterious world of his dad’s creation and finds himself on an adventure that will soon unlock his own creativity.
Pereira & O’Dell chief creative officer PJ Pereira says one of the biggest challenges this year was finding another fresh way of bringing the same premise–Intel tagline “It’s what’s inside that counts”–to life. “We had to find a role to make the product not the subject of the story we are telling, but a character,” says Pereira. “Because characters are what the audience will remember and love months after the campaign is gone.”
In addition to Oscar-winning talent, each Inside Films series featured a social element, soliciting submissions from people for the chance to see their photo and videos for the film, or even audition for a part. This year, it worked a bit differently. “This time, because the central theme is their creativity, that’s what is on display. Their drawings, as if they were all kids that have submitted ideas to the character played by J.K. Simmons,” says Pereira.
Just six weeks after Stromberg issued a challenge online, the film received thousands of creature submissions and more user-generated content than the two previous films combined. “This project always felt more like a film than an ad, with its longer format, incredible cast and extensive visual effects,” says Stromberg, who won art direction Oscars for Alice in Wonderland and Avatar. “The whole interactive angle is also super interesting to me. We’ve had over 6,000 submissions of art work, which is crazy! I just think that’s a much better indicator of engagement than throwing a project into testing. I love how it lets people be an active part of the final product. Any time I can be a part of inspiring others to get in touch with their creative side, only inspires me more as an artist.”
The film debuts on Hulu, with new episodes weekly for four weeks, then starting May 6 the full series will be available on WhatLivesInside.com and YouTube.