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Virtual Reality: Igniting Global Impact


Saturday, June 23 2:00pm -
Fries Theater | BUY TICKETS

Presented in Partnership with East Coast Digital

Originally thought of as a gaming industry, VR has quickly outgrown its commercial roots. With immersive experiences being applied to elevate storytelling and create a social impact, virtual reality now allows audiences to explore global issues in an interactive setting. Join us we discuss how Virtual Reality is igniting change around the world.

Stina Hamlin (Multi-Media Creator, East Coast Digital)
Michael Muller (Creator, Into The Now)
Melissa Pracht (Video and Multi-Media Producer, Doctors Without Borders)

Moderator: Stephanie Riggs (Creative Director Experiential Events, Refinery 29)



Stina Hamlin, Director of Post Production at East Coast Digital and Co-Founder of State of Mind Media, is an award-winning VR creator and television producer who has worked with organizations including UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders, and USA Today. In addition to supporting the many filmmakers and content creators that come through East Coast Digital with their post production needs, her focus is concentrating on projects that amplify Indigenous voices, like her own, and creating and supporting media in the fight to protect the water and Mother Earth. She has two mixed reality projects currently in development, Paper Doll Origami and Blood Memory: The Experience.


Photographer Michael Muller has packed several lifetimes worth of adventure into a mere four decades of life. Raised in Northern California, he spent much of his childhood in Saudi Arabia, where his father, an amateur photographer, oversaw the building of the port city of Jubail.

Michael saw VR as an emerging technology that excited him so much he put his second book project with Taschen down to pursue and learn.  Michael went out and made an underwater sizzle with Great White sharks and within 2 months not only raised millions of dollars but helped create the only camera system to shoot underwater in 4K stereoscopic.  Partnering with RSA, Michael spent the last year criss crossing the planet filming the most amazing wildlife all while collaborating with Stanford University using VR technology to help people with PTSD and anxiety.  He has officially partnered with IWC Watch company, Patagonia, BlackMagic, Leica, RED, Mares and The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.   The first of film from the series premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival as well as the Cannes Marche Du Film in 2018.  He is also an Executive Producer on several other entertainment based projects in Virtual Reality.


Melissa Pracht is Senior Producer of Video and Content at Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). She joined MSF in 2007 after a decade working as a journalist and freelance writer, and eventually transitioned into multimedia storytelling. As executive producer and field producer for MSF’s VR documentary series Forced From Home, Melissa traveled to Bangladesh for the most recent film in the series, Mohammed and Ismail’s Journey: A Story from the Rohingya Exodus. Forced From Home, which is a traveling exhibition currently in the US, uses VR to get viewers as close to possible to the experience of displaced people caught in different crises around the world.  


Current Creative Director of Experiential Events at Refinery29 and former Disney Imagineer with a background in both theatrical narrative and computer science, Stephanie Riggs, began creating interactive virtual worlds two decades ago. She has been internationally recognized as a virtual reality pioneer, produced the first feature film on the Oculus Rift, was the first person invited to film a US President in 360 by Barack Obama, and set a World Record for simultaneous VR experience attendees. Stephanie has presented immersive work and ideas around the world at gatherings such as SIGGRAPH, Tribeca, Future of Storytelling, and the World Immersion Forum. Immersive collaborations include GoogleVR, Facebook/Oculus, JauntVR, and InceptionVR. Her forthcoming book "Storyscapes: Thinking Immersively in the Age of Storytelling" is a must-read for anyone wanting to create stories in immersive technology. Stephanie leads a Blended Reality research group at Yale University and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Carnegie Mellon University's School of Drama and School of Computer Science.

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