Talks & Interviews — October 15, 2013 at 10:37 am

Untitled Murder Project 2.0 – interview with creator of interactive web series

untitled-murder-project-1On Oct. 10 of this year, new webseries were presented to the always-hungry online audience. “Untitled Murder Project 2.0” is a bit different from your usual web series, as it is an interactive murder mystery of 49 episodes.

Basically, the viewer watches the series, and can choose between multiple timelines and create own path towards finding the killer.

“Untitled Murder Project 2.0” begins with a friendly brunch between three couples and takes a dark turn when an uninvited guest who holds damning secrets interrupts the festivities – and is soon found murdered.

Untitled Murder Project 2.0 is the follow-up to 2011’s Untitled Fiction Project, an hour-long experiment in unscripted fiction filmmaking about the aftermath of an affair. Like its predecessor, Untitled Murder Project 2.0 was shot using structured improvisation, with dialogue developed by the actors and the director on the day of the shoot based solely on an outline.

The project was directed by Alonso Mayo, director/writer of this year’s feature film The Story of Luke, starring Lou Taylor Pucci, Seth Green, Cary Elwes and Kristin Bauer, winner of 20 festival top prizes including Best Film from the San Diego Film Festival, Irvine Film Festival and San Luis Obispo Film Festival.

BZFilm talked to the series’ director Alonso Mayo, and asked him to share more details about “Untitled Murder Project 2.0”.

“I wanted to experiment with a new storytelling format. I love making feature films but to a certain point the format is very limiting given the storytelling possibilities offered by the internet and app technology,” Mayo told BZFilm.

“It was a great challenge to develop a project that puts many of the decisions that you would ordinarily be in charge of in the hands of the audience, and still retain enough control to guarantee a uniform and entertaining experience,” he said.

untitled-murder-project-2He went on to add that initially the idea was to make the series into an app for iOS and Android, however later it was decided to make it exclusively, at least initially for YouTube using their Video Annotations Tool since a lot of the interactivity could be achieved this way.

Regarding the funding of the project, Mayo said it was self-funded, being ultra-low-budget and made under SAG’s New Media Contract.

“Since we were dealing with many unknowns this project was conceived as a proof-of-concept more than something we expected to bring in a substantial revenue stream,” he explained. “We are hoping this project helps pave the way for a new storytelling platform.”

When asked if the series will be “online only”, or could be later transferred to DVD or other platforms, Mayo said so far they are concentrating on online release, since it has the built-in interactivity.

“We may consider a DVD and BluRay (and maybe an app) release if we can build a menu system that achieves a similar interactivity,” he explained.

Speaking about the actual shooting process, Mayo told BZFilm it was “very similar” to any other shoot, as most actors are accustomed to shooting out of order due to location and availability restrictions, so film shoots themselves have always been non-linear.

“The only difference with our project was that it was unscripted – it was shot using structured improvisation, with dialogue developed by the actors and the director on the day of the shoot based solely on an outline,” he said.

“Also, although this project is interactive it is not a “choose-you-own-adventure” type story. But what the audience has a hand in, and I think makes it unique, is that there is no set episode order and the audience pieces together their own project structure. It is a “choose-your-own-structure”,” he explained.

Considering that “Untitled Murder Project 2.0” is the follow-up to 2011’s “Untitled Fiction Project”, one wonders if there will be more experiments of the same kind, in other genres.

“Definitely we would like to go for more genre work and have more series in the planning stages but nothing we can share at the moment.”

Feel free to check out all the episodes here.

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