Hello! Can you briefly introduce yourself and what you do?
My name is Tyrell Williams. I am a writer and director of theatre, film and television.
Have you ever made an interactive film before? No
How did you meet Stornaway.io ?
Director Nick Murphy put us in touch.
Where did the idea for “A Little Hungover” come from?
Conversations, between Kate Dimbleby (producer and co-founder of Stornaway.io) and I.
After initially being put in touch, Kate and I emailed and eventually got on zoom. In the midst of a strict lockdown period, we were brainstorming ways to tell interactive narrative stories whilst still adhering to the safety guidelines.
Watching The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs The Reverend was crucial in my understanding of what could be achieved in interactive narratives. It showed me what fun could be had with the form, how you could acknowledge it, break the fourth wall and develop an exciting relationship with an audience.
Shortly after watching it, I got the idea for a comedy where a work meeting between a boss and an employee was taking place and the employee was off his face struggling get through the meeting.
What were your expectations when you started?
I really didn’t know what it’d be like. My only prior knowledge of interactive narrative film was Black Mirror: Bandersnatch which I had read was challenging for the creative team to make. So I didn’t know. Went with it.
What was your experience of working with stornaway.io?
Terrific! Such a great team – very understanding, friendly, forward thinking. Also very patient as I was familiarising myself with the Stornaway software and also how to structure a story of this kind. Inspiring on the whole.
How was it different to writing and planning a linear film?
There were similarities and differences. Of course, you’re still story telling so there’s that aspect of making sure the fundamentals are there, i.e. character, plot. But I found, for me, there was an added complexity in keeping on top of the different “paths” or “journeys” and keeping them interesting.
The Stornaway software was very useful in helping with this, demonstrating beat by beat how each path would unfold.
There was definitely an added layer of mathematics to it I thought.
How did you film it in only one day?
We did it via zoom. Each actor had two phones. One that they’d record themselves on and that they were acting to and then the other where they would be in a production team zoom call.
This way, the actors were able to hear and respond to one another, hear my direction and also communicate with production and get tec support. Whilst production and tec were present in the meeting, they were on mute and hidden in the call allowing the creatives to get on with it.
Before filming, we set-up which took roughly 2 hours adjusting the framing and finding the right light. As I was not able to see the frame, I asked for sample videos to be Wetransferred over so that I could verify I was happy with the actors framing.
We also did sound tests, we recorded into our phones and also external mics to make sure that they were at the right levels.
The fluidity to the shoot was assisted by multiple pre production zoom calls, which the actors were a part of and a rehearsal a week before where I was able to discuss the characters and story with the actors and also where we got to trial the set up and make any adjustments for the shoot.
Has the process surprised you?
I was pleasantly surprised at how successful the filming went – not that we didn’t prepare very well but the shoot was heavily reliant on tec and we made it through with very minor, if any at all, technical difficulties.
What do you think writers and filmmakers need to think about when making ‘pure’ interactive films like this?
There’s something intriguing about seriously considering the psychology of an audience when working on “pure” interactive films like this. In a way, I think it’s useful to pre-empt the audience’s decisions and then write with that in mind.
Whilst I believe that the true visceral experience of theatre is irreplaceable, there’s an interesting relationship that forms between creatives and audience that shares qualities with immersive theatre.
Would you like to make more interactive films and if so, is there any would you do more of or differently?
Yes, I would like to do another and of course, we learn and we grow so there are things that I would do differently. Namely, creating more paths and complex journeys for audiences to enjoy.