The Waiting Room. Mapplebeck, Victoria (Photographer). 2019.

Research output: Non-textual formDigital or Visual Products



The Waiting Room is a multi-platform Film and VR project I have written, filmed, produced, and directed. It comprises of a 30-minute smartphone short, commissioned by The Guardian and broadcast on The Guardian website in 2019, and a Virtual Reality project, which was funded by the EPSRC and premiered at The 76th Venice International Film Festival in 2019.

On being diagnosed with breast cancer in late 2017, I decided to record my journey from diagnosis to recovery. Using footage shot on my iPhone X over 18 months in waiting rooms, surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy, and at home with my teenage son, my film provides an intimate and visceral portrait of cancer treatment and its transformative impact on the body and family life.

Seeing my cancer cells under the microscope inspired me to develop a computer-generated VR exhibition piece to accompany the film. Working with 3D artists, I animated the medical imaging collected through out my treatment (CT scans, mammograms and ultrasound) and also used a 360 degree durational single take which reconstructs my last session of radiotherapy.

The VR piece thus takes viewers on a surreal journey through my body . It challenges the rhetoric of illness and the cultural myths surrounding cancer, which will affect one in three of us over a lifetime.

Moving beyond sentimentality and survivor/victim binaries,The Waiting Room combines the intimate gaze of the smartphone with the immersive impact of VR techniques to disrupt the objectification of the medical gaze and to remind the audience of the person behind the diagnosis. It also explores what immersive technologies can offer to non-fiction filmmaking in terms of creative possibilities, embodied audience engagement, and a shift from story-telling to story-living.
It has been selected for IDFA and featured on BBC Click. An outreach strategy involves exhibiting it at galleries, cancer centres, and hospitals in 2019-20.
Original languageEnglish
Media of outputFilm
Size30 minute smartphone short and a 16 min VR piece
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2019
This open access research output is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

ID: 32969943