The Black Key
Party. Quest. Mystery. Theater. Erotica. These are the five words that Infilmity Productions’ Anya Bay and Olia Oparina use to describe The Black Key. Intrigued? So were we. So Immersed suited up and sat down with Anya and Olia to discuss not only the show itself, but also the inspirations and themes behind this “sensual quest and immersive experience.”
Following the successful reception of their psychological erotic thriller, Snowbound, at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, the Infilmity team recognized they could build upon the audience demand created both by the movie, and by their themed red-carpet event. And so, they developed this “one-of-a-kind experience” – The Black Key.
“It’s a new concept that combines multiple elements: a quest, an immersive theatrical play, artistic shows, and performances in a sensual party setting with a DJ and an open bar. The idea is to recreate the mood of the party featured in the movie – an erotic masquerade – with costumes, actors and mystery elements.”
Snowbound: Come Clean or Lie Frozen
Written, directed, and produced by women, Infilmity’s feature Snowbound follows a group of sex party attendees who wake up naked in the snow, and find a dead girl and a message. Realizing they are “trapped in a sinister game”, they must then work together to find out who is responsible for the girl’s death.
This is the main inspiration for The Black Key: “When guests enter the door, they become “party attendees” similar to those in the movie. Guests then need to go on a quest to find out what happened to their “fellow patrons” and to “the girl”. They will have to follow signs to get clues and figure out the whole story. The clues may be hidden in the objects or given out by certain performers or even staff members.” “The Golden Key” room will also give some insight into the narrative to the lucky patrons who gain access. But the final secret will only be revealed to the one who finds the eponymous Black Key.
Co-founded by Olia Oparina and Anya Bay in 2015, Infilmity Productions is a creative, independent film production company based in Hollywood, producing “bold and edgy” feature films, short films and music videos. “Infilmity Productions is well known for delivering high-quality products with unique, artistic concepts, and also for working with a talented team of female filmmakers.”
For The Black Key, the team turned to immersive shows such as Then She Fell and Sleep No More for inspiration. “Though we aren’t a full immersive theatre play, we have elements of it. Escape rooms and game theatre also have a part to play in The Black Key.”
While Snowbound is the main filmic reference, Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut has a heavy influence on the event’s opulent set and costume design.
“We are using art directors and costume designers from the Snowbound team to recreate the atmosphere of the film’s party scenes. Award-winning costume designer – Ami Goodheart provides us with beautiful hand-made costumes and headpieces.” You can see Goodheart’s work here.
The sensual theme continues throughout, beyond the seductive outfits of the general area and the partial nudity found in “The Golden Key” room, and building upon the elegant setting. “Dark sexy music” provides the background for both “improvised and pre-planned flirtatious shows.” This element of the event comes with a warning: “Guests should be ok to be touched by actors.”
Choose your Level of Interaction
One of the most interesting aspects of The Black Key is the level of choice patrons are given. While they cannot influence the final outcome of the story, guests can choose how involved they become in the narrative.
“In the general area, the audience can explore at their own pace. They will find clues and uncover the story, driven by a competitive feel – since only one person can earn The Black Key. Guests can form teams or be on their own. They can interact with actors, performers and staff.”
In the closed “Golden Key” room, guests can enjoy a 15-minute play based on Snowbound. Entrance to this room is optional, with the show playing 3 times each night, on a “first come first serve” basis due to the limited capacity of 30 people. “If a guest didn’t make it the first time, he/she can come back later.” Audience members can choose whether they become part of the show, or remain a passive voyeur.
But it is important to note that interaction is rewarded, with the ultimate prize being the fabled “Black Key”. “Guests have to go on a quest to find it. They will have to look through objects, interact with performers to get the clues. The more elements of the story they can get, the closer they are to find the Black Key. It’s a one-person experience only. We can’t disclose what will happen. We can only say that the winner will get the missing element of the story and will have an exclusive sensual performance.”
If interaction really isn’t your thing, there is still plenty on offer: dancers, illusionists and an air show are on the bill, as well as the DJ and open bar with a variety of drinks that all speak to the mood of the evening.
“We want our guests to feel like they are a part of a secret society. Solving a mystery, they become a part of a story themselves. We want them to walk away feeling smart, sexy, seduced, and ready to push their boundaries—but also keeping in mind the main message of the “Snowbound” narrative they discover at the party.”
“We trust you to keep a secret…”
Admittance to The Black Key is for those aged 21 and over, and formal attire (or lingerie for ladies who are so inclined) is required. No photography will be allowed. The first show will take place on New Year’s Eve at the Payne Mansion Hotel in San Francisco, but will be coming to Los Angeles in February, 2018.