The advances in digital technology has opened up a new frontier in storytelling that previously was only available in theater – the interactive story. Murder To Go, the inventor of the interactive mystery play, has continued to be a innovator in interactive theater. Now MTG inc. has become an innovator in interactive film as well. What is interactive film? It is a live action motion picture that requires viewer interaction for the film to continue. The distribution of interactive films can be through home DVDs, internet broadcasting, interactive cable or even live projection with audience members voting via handheld wireless keypads. At MTG we have been experimenting and producing films for all of these potential delivery methods.
Much of the enjoyment of the interactive film is the group audience experience. An interactive movie gives the audience permission to be active and even vocal. The experience is enhanced when members of the audience begin to shout out their choices and react to either winning or losing the vote. The interactive film makes watching a movie a communal event.
Writer/Director David Landau and Producer/Interactive Designer Matt Clarke have been exploring the avenues of interactive film since the late 1990s. Our first production was the direct to DVD “Stab in the Dark”, an interactive live action DVD party game, now distributed by Drew’s Famous Entertainment. “Stab in the Dark” allows players to become detectives, reviewing the interrogation of witnesses, visiting the crime scene, and checking out the clues before trying to guess “whodunit”.
Our second, more ambitious production was the interactive feature film “Murder at Café Noir”, based on our most popular play. Using handheld wireless remotes, viewing audience members vote on where the main character should go next. “Café Noir” has been a featured selection in several film festivals and winner of two awards – The Emerging Filmmaker Award from the Atlantic City Film Festival, and a Feature Film Winner from the Telluride IndieFest.
Our next project began when we were approached by Boost Video to create the Internet based interactive film “The Remake”, where viewers become Hollywood producers assigned to remake the classic film “Casablanca”. Viewers pick from a pool of three writers and three directors and then watch to see if they can work together to produce a script the studio will approve. Next the viewer casts the lead roles from a pool of three actresses and three actors and then gets to watch behind the scenes of the production and a trailer for the film they’ve produced. This unique film has 30 different possible outcomes.
Recently, we completed production on “Party Psychic” for Drew’s Famous Entertainment. This direct to DVD party video features a fortuneteller who will predict your future by reading your cards to answer any yes or no question, or by reading your palm directly off the TV screen. The use of a random generator in the DVD programming brings unpredictably perceptive results to your reading and with 60 different possible predictions allows for instant replay.
Much like interactive theater was in the 1980s, so the interactive movie is today. These are its formative years. The potential for interactive film reaches beyond the game aspect, and can be explored by catering to its own unique ability to allow a live audience input and open interaction with one another and what is on screen.