Makers of The Metaverse: Matt Venables and Jeremy Smith, Creators of Genzeroes On The Future Of The VR, AR & Mixed Reality Industries

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

… Be okay with making mistakes. It’s going to happen, so just learn from them and keep moving.

The Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality & Mixed Reality Industries are so exciting. What is coming around the corner? How will these improve our lives? What are the concerns we should keep an eye out for? Aside from entertainment, how can VR or AR help work or other parts of life? To address this, we had the pleasure of interviewing Matt Venables and Jeremy Smith.

Jeremy and Matt discovered their mutual love of film and music in film school and have been creatively joined at the hip ever since. Founding an independent music video production company shortly after graduating, they cut their filmmaking teeth creating and directing videos in multiple genres. With their undeniable passion for writing, their hard work found fruition when they landed writing gigs on the award winning and critically acclaimed time travel series CONTINUUM. It was here they served as writer/producers for the four-season run of the series before killing vampires on the SYFY/Netflix series VAN HELSING, where they wrote and Co-Executive Produced for its five-season run. In that time, they have received three Leo Award nominations for Best Writing (Van Helsing, ReBoot) with one win for Van Helsing. They also won a Canadian Screen Award for Best Digital Media Campaign (Continuum).

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory and how you grew up?

Matt — I grew up in Lethbridge, Alberta. After graduating from high school I moved to British Columbia and worked in record stores and the majority of my life at that time revolved around music and movies. After living there for a few years I decided to attend film school and that is where I met Jeremy. We instantly connected over our love of music and movies and have been a team ever since.

Jeremy — I was born in Barrie Ontario and moved to BC in my teens. I always wanted to make movies and TV, but thought it was so out of reach. I wandered through dead- end jobs trying to find something that inspired me. One day I just said, “screw it” and enrolled in film school where I met Matt. 23 years later we’re still doing what we love and haven’t killed each other. It’s pretty amazing.

Is there a particular book, film, or podcast that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Matt — The first book I read and could see the film version in my head (this was pre-film school) was Perfume by Patrick Suskind. I still to this day know the film version of that book that I want to make.

Is there a particular story that inspired you to pursue a career in entertainment and now the metaverse?

Jeremy — The HBO Series Six Feet Under completely changed my perspective on what television could be. No other series inspired me the way it did. It set me on a path to want to write stories and create characters for TV.

Matt — It isn’t a story but a suggestion. In high school I always wanted to make skits for my projects, one day I was stopped by a teacher in the hall and she asked me if I had ever thought about going to film school. The world of Film and TV felt so far from my universe that I said no, but the seed was planted and here I am today. Thank you Mrs. Rohovie.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this journey?

Matt — I was lucky enough to have my Dad come to set and watch something that I wrote get shot. It was a proud moment for me, and I know a proud moment for him.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Matt — I don’t think it’s necessarily a funny story but in our first writer’s room I was the writer’s room assistant and Jeremy was the Script Coordinator. We were told not to speak unless asked to. So one day I had a couple ideas and I emailed them to one of the writers. He proceeded to pitch them as his own. This taught me to use your voice and it’s important to be involved even if you’re at the bottom.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Jeremy — There are so many people we could name, but Simon Barry has to top that list. He gave us our first job as writers on his first series, CONTINUUM. It was a big gamble for him to do that. He saw something in us, believed in us and is a big part of why we are where we’re at today.

Matt — You don’t get to this point without many people helping and believing in you. If I had to choose one it would be JP Finn. He taught me a lot about the production side of film making and how to troubleshoot difficult situations. He also taught me that the majority of the heavy lifting is done in prep. A strong prep will help the shoot go smoothly.

Tell us about GenZeroes? How do you think that will help people?

Jeremy — We always wanted to make a high-concept sci-fi story that was both thought provoking and fun escapism. GenZeroes creates this “what if” future for humankind that allows us to explore unique perspectives on how the human race should proceed after an apocalyptic event. Being able to play with all these varying philosophies that are at odds with each other mirrors what is going on in our world today, but then we give the audience an action adventure component with dazzling effects and cool tech to kind of take the edge off.

What are the 3 things that concern you about the VR, AR and MR industries? Can you explain? What can be done to address those concerns?

  • The over commercialization of Web3. You see it already, and if it happens too swiftly, it can suck the fun out of it really quickly. There is no way to really stop it from happening, so just try to weed through the tripe and you will find some truly awesome organic experiences.
  • Educating people about it. How do you make things accessible and user friendly for everyone? Right now you need to have some level of tech savvy to navigate it.
  • Keeping your community engaged. It’s a very interactive industry and maintaining the dialogue with everyone is important. We’ve used engaging the community to help in decision making has helped. If you give them ownership in the process, it becomes theirs and creates greater loyalty.

I think the entertainment aspects of VR, AR and MR are apparent. Can you share with our readers how these industries can help us at work?

Jeremy — Small businesses will be able to participate in things that may have previously been out of reach. Seminars, conferences, training opportunities, they will now all come to you, saving massive amounts of time and money.

Are there other ways that VR, AR and MR can improve our lives? Can you explain?

Jeremy — Commuting is going to become a thing of the past, and that’s pretty exciting for a lot of people. Imagine not having to deal with a 30 minute or hour-long commute to and from work, appointments, etc. This time will then become yours to out toward things you love, your family, hobbies, side hustles. It’s going to change people’s lives in a positive way.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about working in your industry? Can you explain what you mean?

Jeremy — All NFTs are ponzi schemes. Some are, absolutely, but to write off an entire new technology and cultural groundswell because a few grifters got some ink after scamming people is pretty ignorant. Wait till I tell you about banks.

What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The VR, AR or MR Industries?”

Jeremy — You definitely need to be adventurous. It’s such a new industry with no real template on anything. Many are making up the rules as they go, so you really need to have a trailblazer attitude.

A thick skin will do you well. There are a lot of naysayers whenever it comes to anything new, especially tech that threatens the status quo.

Be okay with making mistakes. It’s going to happen, so just learn from them and keep moving.

Collaboration is hugely advantageous. Find likeminded partners that you can help and that can help you. Strategic alliances will only make you stronger.

Matt — You have to be malleable; this space is evolving so fast you need to be able to adjust on the fly.

Believe in the product you’re creating, if you don’t fully believe in it you’re setting yourself up for failure.

You are both people of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

With the implementation of VR, AR, and MR, access to free education and training can offer opportunities for advancement previously unattainable for many across the globe.

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Jeremy/Matt — Mark Hamill. Beyond the obvious Star Wars fan-boying, he just seems like a super nice guy. We would probably annoy the hell out of him with all the pitches we would throw at him. Getting to work with him would definitely be a career highlight.

Thank you so much for these excellent stories and insights. We wish you continued success on your great work!

Makers of The Metaverse: Matt Venables and Jeremy Smith, Creators of Genzeroes On The Future Of The… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Recommended Posts