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How Netflix’s New Interactive Special Makes the Best Use of a Branching Narrative

“The idea of being able to go down avenues and tell stories in this entirely different way was incredibly exciting,” says producer and writer Robert Carlock about “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend”

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt team reunited for a “choose-your-own-adventure” episode, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend,” available starting May 12 on Netflix.

Read more: “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend” Interactive Special Goes Deeper Than the Gimmick (Collider)

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt executive producer and writer Robert Carlock recalls, “To get to be the first comedy to use this technology was really exciting. We thought it would be fun to tell some stories we hadn’t told and maybe wrap up certain loose ends we hadn’t fully explored. The idea of being able to go down avenues and tell stories in this entirely different way was incredibly exciting.”

“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Kimmy Vs. The Reverend” — Ellie Kemper as Kimmy, courtesy of Netflix © 2020

Creating an interactive special for Kimmy’s world meant that the creative team could tell a story on a much grander scale than the series, covering more locations and producing an end result that is even more cinematic.

Read more: Kimmy Schmidt vs. the Reverend Is What Interactive TV Was Made For (Vulture)

Producer Nick Bernardone explains, “It allowed us to play with action scenes, cinematic shots and low angles, really cool wide-frame angles that you wouldn’t normally see in this show, or even on television in general. Also, every choice that the viewer makes will have major implications that they may not even realize until much later. Everybody playing this should really take care and caution and think about the choices they make, much like in real life!”

“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Kimmy Vs. The Reverend” — Tituss Burgess as Titus Courtesy of Netflix © 2020

Carlock agrees: “These elements hopefully allow for a different kind of rhythm, but it will still feel like the show. It was a fun production and writing challenge too.”

Read more: The Five Decisions to Unlock the Funniest Version of Netflix’s Interactive “Kimmy Schmidt” Movie

“The special is formatted to run for approximately an hour, giving viewers a few minutes to make each of the decisions on the story,” writes Mythili Sampathkumar, “but its format also allows people to spend hours clicking through each of the options in the on-screen prompts and watch multiple versions of the special, too.

“The special was made using Branch Manager, the same tech used on the [Black Mirror] Bandersnatch episode,” continues Sampathkumar. “Branch Manager allowed writers and directors to see film cuts within the software program itself, allowing them to map out various plotlines and incorporate jokes into the choose-your-adventure format.

“Netflix also used the interactive technology for Bear Grylls’ You vs. Wild in the past, but filming a comedy with it in mind is a different feat,” Sampathkumar continues. “Fey and the writing staff had to plot out not only each of the prompts available to viewers, but story arcs based on those prompts and which combinations would make the most sense.” To read the full article, click here.

“I think everyone involved here was very excited about the opportunity to set the bar for comedies in the interactive space,” says Bernardone. “The bar’s going to be really high, because we have a lot of great set pieces, we have really high-octane action sequences, and you’re going get a ton of jokes per minute. You’re going to be laughing, you’re going to be engaged, you’re going to be scared. It’s going to be such a fun experience for everybody.”

 

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