Whoever it was who said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery clearly wasn’t a copyright lawyer. But as the nation sat turkey-bound and mince-pied on the post-Christmas sofa, I did briefly consider how much it would cost to hire one.
During that fat, hazy period between Christmas and New Year, and with little fanfare, Netflix offered up a bitter nugget of not-very-festive entertainment: a feature length episode of Charlie Brooker’s troubling and all too plausibly dystopian drama Black Mirror.
You’ve probably seen it. You’ll almost certainly have read about it. Taking inspiration from an unreleased 80s computer game (very Charlie Brooker) via Lewis Carroll, the standalone episode is called Bandersnatch and allows the viewer to choose their own path through the story. Beginning with a seemingly banal decision about which breakfast cereal the main character is going to eat, the choices quickly become darker and more precarious. There are dozens of possible journeys through the film and multiple possible endings.
Apparently, the complexity of this self-service storytelling made it a nightmare to write and produce. And I can believe that. Not least because here at Speed, we did it first (sort of), hence my Christmas Google of copyright law.
About a year ago, we were commissioned to write and produce a film by The Recruitment and Employment Confederation , the professional body representing the recruitment industry. They wanted the film to be a celebration of good practice in the industry; highlighting the vital work that recruiters do to keep British industry supplied with high quality staff. REC wanted its members to watch the film and be proud of the job that they do.
To meet this brief, we proposed a film called The Recruitment Game, one that used interactive storytelling to test the audience with four challenges taken from real-world recruitment situations. The correct path through the film would tell a story of good judgement, professionalism and impact by “Sophie” the main character. The wrong path . . . well the wrong path took the viewer through a world of absurdity and silliness.
It’s to the great credit of the REC that they trusted us with this approach. They laughed at our jokes and were relaxed about the liberal use of false facial hair meaning that The Recruitment Game ended up being something fairly special in the world of corporate film making. We’re proud of it.
So, if you like your interactive storytelling brooding and perilous then watch Bandersnatch. But if you prefer fake beards, people jumping out of cupboards, poisoned birthday cakes and basketball played with screwed up CVs, then it sounds like you’re ready to play The Recruitment Game. Click on the link below.
And Brooker? If you’re reading this, our lawyers will be in touch.