Imagine being able to determine the fate of the characters in a flick you’re watching — pressing a button so that Jack literally never lets go, or touching the screen so that the characters DO NOT (we repeat, DO NOT!) go into that super creepy, dark and scary forest. In a world where you can customize everything from electronics to smartphones to sunglasses, our entertainment is still something we generally leave in the hands of the pros. But with the latest nonlinear movies, you get to choose a different adventure every time you turn it on. We’re talking 50 different stories and every time you press play. Beat that, Netflix.
One of the first like it to screen to the public, the short film Possibilia premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last week and the experience sounds like a nail biter for all involved — we popped popcorn just to read Yahoo Tech columnist Alyssa Bereznak’s view of it. While the movie is screening, its two directors watch from their laptop, choosing what comes next in the moment. Sounds cool, but that’s actually not even how they plan the viewing experience will usually go.
To create Possibilia, the six minute movie was filmed over and over again, differently every time. Actors Zoe Jarman and Girls‘ Alex Karpovsky timed out the scenes in their head so every version would fall into the same time frame and be easy to cut up to make multiple movies that each seem like they were meant to be. The directors want you to watch at home, where you’ll be able to tap different boxes that pop up under the main screen to seamlessly switch to a different “adventure.”
Possibilia and the nonlinear doc The Gleam are movies are made possible in part thanks to startup Interlude, which is pioneering the interactive movie-watching experience way beyond red and blue 3D glasses. The Gleam is a documentary about a small town in Alabama and tells the story of the people in the town through its community newspaper. From the randomized intro and conclusion to the ability to click on different squares to explore different storylines, no two viewings will be the same. This definitely sounds like something you would do at home curled up watching Netflix.
With special wearables and sensory-probing technologies that hope to immerse us in the entertainment we’re just used to imbibing, we could see this multi-layered movie allowing the viewer to choose their own adventure at a theater, instead of just on their couch. It could be as simple as viewers pressing a button on a bracelet to vote for what narrative direction they want the flick to focus on OR as exciting as the directors choosing how to guide the story based on mood-revealing biometrics. If the audience’s heart rates are going off the charts and body temps heating up, movie maestros could keep the adrenaline pumping with a scary or exhilarating turn. Sounds a little evil, but we would definitely sit through a screening.
Our phones of the future will have to have a different mode: do not disturb, airplane, and immersive movie-watching. No texting or email-checking allowed, just viewing and vibing with the flick. And if you want to be surprised, there’s probably something exciting about your fellow moviegoers choosing what you’re watching and adding that to the indepth movie discussion you have after. Date night, anyone?
What would YOU want to watch using a choose-your-own-adventure-type format? Pop some popcorn and sound off below…