March 13, 2019
Following the global success of its choose-your-own-adventure style “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch,” Netflix plans to produce more such interactive content. During his keynote at the FICCI-Frames conference in Mumbai, VP of content Todd Yellin explained that new interactive approaches could include, for example, a romantic comedy in which viewers determine whether characters get together. Yellin told the crowd that “Bandersnatch” is “a huge hit” in India and “around the world, and we realized, wow, interactive storytelling is something we want to bet more on.”
“We’re doubling down on that,” he added. “So expect over the next year or two to see more interactive storytelling. And it won’t necessarily be science fiction, or it won’t necessarily be dark. It could be a wacky comedy. It could be a romance, where the audience gets to choose – should she go out with him or him.”
“The initiative would likely require a lot of heavy lifting from writers, editors and actors,” notes TechCrunch. “In ‘Bandersnatch,’ Netflix collaborated with the writers and directors of ‘Black Mirror’ to develop the technology to support streaming a film that relied on the ‘branching narrative’ storytelling structure that required viewers to pick between choices to advance the story.”
The process required stitching together numerous video segments in order to address all possible endings based on viewer choices.
“Netflix’s investment included new technology that the company calls ‘state tracking’ which logs the choices viewers make as they watch the ‘Bandersnatch’ episode,” explains TechCrunch. Netflix also engineered new tech “that would load the episode without any lags,” and “created a new internal writing tool called Branch Manager so that [creator Charlie] Brooker could write his script and deliver it directly to the company.”