Sunday, June 3, 11:15 am

Steven Spielberg is a master of creativity, and his most recent film, Ready Player One, released late in 2017, is no exception. The film is about a virtual world in the near future, and the filmmaking techniques themselves included augmented reality and virtual reality to see how characters in the film interacted with one another. In this session, several collaborators – a screenwriter, actor, producer, and a visual effects director – who were involved in the creation of the film discussed the groundbreaking nature of the movie and how it was made.

Highlights of the session included:

  • A short video clip in which Spielberg talks about reading the book Ready Player One and realizing he knew how he could tell the story on screen.
  • Clips from the film set, which included a vast junkyard set, breathtaking in its analog enormity.
  • Screenwriter Penn discussing the challenges of writing a screenplay for something so “out there.” “You can’t be distracted by the details. You have to find the story at the heart of everything.”
  • Jager and the other collaborators describing the “reality of the virtual reality” that Spielberg used to make the film, including the building of a 3D set, the special shots of the actors, and the special effects, all to be combined later. And, Spielberg himself walking around the set wearing a VR headset to truly visualize what he wanted in the final creation.
You can watch the entire session below.
Donald DeLine



Donald De Line (Producer) has collaborated with outstanding talent on both sides of the camera during his more than 25 years in the movie industry.

He is currently developing a wide range of upcoming film projects under his De Line Pictures banner, headquartered at Warner Bros.

De Line scored his first major hit as a producer with the 2003 heist thriller The Italian Job, starring Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron and Edward Norton.  His prior films include Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe; John Hamburg’s I Love You, Man; the live-action/CG animated adventure Yogi Bear, starring the vocal performances of Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake, which grossed over $200 million worldwide; and director Martin Campbell’s action adventure Green Lantern, starring Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively, which grossed over $200 million worldwide. De Line’s more recent feature producing credits include Zach Braff’s Going in Style, starring legendary actors Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin; and Michael Bay’s hit comedy crime drama Pain & Gain, with an ensemble cast led by Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson.  He also served as executive producer, alongside M. Night Shyamalan, on the popular television drama series Wayward Pines on FOX.

In addition to his producing career, De Line held positions as a studio executive, serving as President and Vice Chairman of Paramount Pictures, and President of Touchstone Pictures, a division of The Walt Disney Company.  During his tenure, Touchstone’s films grossed in excess of $2.5 billion worldwide and garnered an impressive 24 Academy Award nominations. Among the films he oversaw at Touchstone were Pretty Woman, What About Bob, and Father of the Bride and its sequel.  Also under his aegis was Ron Howard’s Ransom, the Oscar-nominated biopic What’s Love Got to Do with It, Wes Anderson’s Rushmore, Tim Burton’s critically acclaimed Ed Wood, and the worldwide blockbuster Armageddon.

Charlie Fink


AR/VR Consultant, Speaker, Forbes Columnist

Charlie Fink is a former Disney, AOL, and AG Interactive executive who writes about VR, AR, and new media for Forbes. In the 90s, Fink was EVP & COO of VR pioneer Virtual World Entertainment. He is now a consultant and frequent speaker on these topics at conferences like CES, SXSW, AWE, ARiA, VR Toronto, VRLA, and many more. Fink is the author of the recently released book Charlie Fink's Metaverse, An AR Enhanced guide to AR & VR.

In addition to his work as head of story development during the second golden age of Disney animation (‘85-’92), Fink was SVP & CCO of AOL Studios (‘95-’99), and President and CCO of American Greetings Interactive ('00-'05). Fink has founded and exited two venture-backed startups and has produced over 30 award-winning Broadway musicals.

Alex Jaeger


Visual Effects Art Director
Industrial Light & Magic

Alex Jager served as the Virtual Production Design Supervisor and Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) VFX Art Director on Ready Player One.

Alex Jaeger joined Industrial Light & Magic in 1995, lending his talents to the creature/model shop where he served as a model maker on numerous commercials and feature films. During this time, he also created storyboards for the ILM Art Department until 1996, when he was appointed as Visual Effects Art Director on Star Trek: First Contact. Jaeger also designed many of the film’s spaceships that were later used in the modern incarnations of the Star Trek television series.

An avid car enthusiast since his youth, Alex Jaeger attended The Center for Creative Studies College of Art & Design in Detroit for two years, focusing on transportation design. A greater interest in film led him to The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, where he studied stop-motion and computer animation along with industrial design. Jaeger went on to design three Fry’s Electronics stores for Christiansen Design in Sausalito, California, and worked for R. Talsorian Games, creating designs and illustrations for “Cyberpunk” role-playing books.

In 2012, Jaeger was key in bringing to life Guillermo del Toro’s kaiju epic, Pacific Rim, as the Visual Effects Art Director and “Jaeger Master.” He is also one of the key members of the Transformers franchise team, lending his auto expertise to all four films.

Zak Penn



Zak Penn (Screenwriter) began as a screenwriter when he sold his first script, Last Action Hero, at the age of 23. Since then, Penn has become known for his work on numerous films based on Marvel comics, including X-Men 2 and X-Men: The Last Stand; Elektra; The Incredible Hulk; and, most recently, The Avengers. He has also dabbled in other genres, writing scripts for such disparate films as PCU, Behind Enemy Lines, and Suspect Zero.

Penn’s shift into independent cinema began when he collaborated with his idol, Werner Herzog, on the script for Rescue Dawn. Penn directed and co-starred with Herzog in Incident at Loch Ness, his award-winning “hoax” documentary about the legendary director’s attempts to make a film about the equally legendary monster. The Grand, Penn’s second completely improvised film, was his third film with Herzog and featured an eclectic cast, including Woody Harrelson, David Cross, Ray Romano, Cheryl Hines, Dennis Farina and Gabe Kaplan.

In addition, Penn co-wrote the original story for the animated feature Antz and produced the animated film Osmosis Jones. He has also acted in a number of independent films, including Star Maps and Chuck & Buck. His first foray into television was the critically acclaimed original series& Alphas, starring David Strathairn. In 2014, Penn directed the documentary Atari: Game Over.

Philip Zhao



Philip Zhao (Sho) makes his professional acting debut in Ready Player One. He landed his role through a nationwide search by casting director Ellen Lewis, beating out hundreds of other young actors who auditioned.

Zhao is currently a freshman in high school, a gamer who especially loves NBA 2k18, and a basketball player. He is fluent in Mandarin.  He also enjoys watching late night talk shows and loves watching American football and basketball.  The now-14-year-old actor lives in Maryland with his family.

View past events: 2017