The new paranoia of Black Mirror It never ends In the last chapter of the series on technological perversions, titled Bandersnatch, Netflix has decided to make an interactive movie. Literally, the viewer can make decisions about the story from their remote control on the fly. There is not an episode, there are millions of possible episodes. The format, which the company had already tested in children's films, adds a videogame element to one of the most popular series in the world. The global experiment begins this Friday.
Bandersnatch It develops in the early eighties. The protagonist is a young man who tries to program a video game during the explosion of personal computers. In a few minutes, the viewer will find a question inconsequential on the screen (choose a cereal brand for breakfast) so you can see how the interaction with your remote control works. As the story progresses, every three or five minutes you will have to choose options, not so friendly. A good chapter of Black Mirror seeks to disturb the viewer. Bandersnatch seeks that the perversion of history arise from the viewer itself. It takes "to the next level," in the words of Todd Yellin, product manager of Netflix, "more intense." "We're going to make you feel responsible for what happens."
At the end of November, Netflix invited a score of media from around the world, including EL PAÍS, to watch Bandersnatch at its headquarters in Los Gatos, California. Each journalist saw it on an iPad, with headphones. When finished, the conversation was exactly what Netflix expected. Have you seen this? No, I did not do that in mine. Did you see what happens in the end? I saw another ending. What did you choose in such a question? They asked me something else. This is the conversation that Netflix hopes to provoke as of this December 28 in every house, every office and every New Year's Eve dinner. The film will be available at the same time with dubbing in 10 languages and subtitles in 28 languages for 137 million users. The interactive feature does not work on Chromecast or Apple TV.
"I guarantee that it will ignite social networks," says Yellin. "People are going to compare their experiences. Even beyond social networks, viewers are going to talk to each other! A real human conversation! " According to Carla Engelbrecht, director of Product Innovation at the company, that conversation is "part of the experience." The viewer may not make decisions and then watch a standard 90-minute movie. But if you get into the story you can find "millions" of combinations. Netflix refuses to say how many endings there are or how many different paths exist in the movie. It can take between 60 and 70 minutes to reach an end. There is triple the amount of material shot.
The creators of the story are Charlie Brooker and the producer Annabel Jones, the couple responsible for the world Black Mirror since the beginning. The director is David Slade, who already made the terrifying movie Metalhead within this series. Since the format began in 2011, Charlie Brooker has made 19 movies From this series, a paranoid exploration of technology that has sometimes become a source of disturbing predictions. Netflix bought the series in 2015 and since then he commissions six chapters in six. In the last two years he has won six Emmys, two for the episode of San Junípero (2017) and four this year by USS Callister. For now, Bandersnatch it's a separate experiment, it does not belong to the fifth season of the series. Netflix executives make it clear they expect ideas to rain down to make more interactive movies.
Netflix had tried the interactive format with some children's movies. The action stops and the character asks the viewer what he wants to do. "You have to try the children first, because for them everything is new," Yellin explains about the decision to address the interactive format. "If it does not work with them, it does not work with anyone. We tried and it went very well. It's simpler than the adult experience, but it helped us a lot to see how the children interacted. Trying with adults was the next step. "
But it was not worth any content, Yellin adds. "It had to be a story that lends itself to being told interactively, even better interactive. Because if not, it's a cheap trick, and we do not want that. You need the right content, the right audience and the right creator. The hearing of Black Mirror It's huge, international, they like science fiction, technology and how it affects people. If you are going to try a new technology, it is a good audience to try and we believe that they will accept it ". Bandersnatch It is much more sophisticated than children's movies. The action continues during the seconds in which the viewer has to make a decision. There is no break, it is decided and the action continues there. If the viewer does not make decisions, the story automatically follows.
"These are times of pioneers and we are learning as we go," says Todd Yellin when asked if the next interactive projects will be as complex as this one. "There is much to do. We are starting. "