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Black Mirror creators broke Netflix's script writing tool with Bandersnatch

December 28, 2018 | By Chris Kerr

December 28, 2018 | By Chris Kerr
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More: Design, Video



Netflix has just dropped a special interactive installment of Black Mirror to give us all a bleak reality check as we try to forget about the crushing weight of existence during the holidays.

Dubbed 'Bandersnatch,' the Christmas episode is notable for being a choose your own adventure affair that invites viewers to make choices (like the one in the clip above) as the story progresses.

The gamification of more traditional media is a concept Netflix has been playing with for a while, with the streaming giant having already released similar shows for children -- such as the recently launched Minecraft: Story Mode

The rub here, is that Bandersnatch is targeted at adults, meaning creators Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones had to present a branching narrative complex enough to keep older audiences engaged, without letting them stray too far from the main plot. 

Turns out, that was a pretty huge undertaking, and in a recent interview with Variety the pair spoke about how they were given help in the form of Netflix's own custom script-writing tool, Branch Manager.

The tool can be used to concoct complex narratives that branch out and loop around, presenting different paths that diverge and intertwine at specific points. It sounds fairly versatile, but Brooker and Jones pushed it to the breaking point while writing Bandersnatch. 

"[The story] kept expanding, even when we were in pre-production," recalled Brooker. “"We deliberately pushed what was going to be possible [until one day] the story outline crashed."

It was a first for Brooker, though it isn't altogether surprising when you consider Bandersnatch has over a trillion unique permutations, though some of those include fairly superficial choices like deciding what cereal to scoff for breakfast. We love a good bowl of Frosties, in case you were wondering.

Anyhow, if that little tidbit has piqued your interest, you can out more about how Bandersnatch came together by checking out the full article over on Variety.



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