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After my honours year, armed with a lot of theoretical and conceptual knowledge that was yet to be activated through practice, I decided to create my own interactive film: Night of the Living Haunted House Attractions. This film brings together a lot of the ideas that excited me throughout the honours year, with my favourite genres: comedy and horror.


As an interactive film, I was aware that the writing would be challenging. I've studied branching narratives before, and wrote an 8,000w interactive text-game in undergrad, so I'm aware of the complexities... or so I thought.

Writing for comedy ended up being incredibly complicated - the order of events could impact the timing or knowledge needed for a joke. Choices needed to have impact, but not too much, as to keep it absurd. Players needed to want to explore, they needed to be rewarded for revisiting spaces with new jokes (a valuable, but yet-more complicated, contribution from my script consultant and respected comedy writer Sam Lingham).

Whiteboards and sticky notes were the only way I could work through the narrative:

My final choice tree:

Story boards were also complicated - they needed to exist for each variation of choice in the script, and it made the shot-list a complicated affair - we might have the same 'shot' or scene filmed multiple times, because of a slight variation (for example - does the train conductor already know you? If yes, were you mean to him? - each would spark the same dialogue, but performed in a different way). The goal with writing become to create something that felt satisfying to navigate, without every becoming serious or tedious. So pacing was important - as it always is in comedy - but again, this is difficult to maintain through an interactive medium. And so lots of play-testers were invited to play through the text version of this film, and provide feedback.


Similar issues were present during filming - making sure actors had contextual information for their characters that might shift and change with each new take was a difficult obstacle to face, and one I'm not 100% sure I was able to nail with the tone of the piece as a whole. While some actors understood the format and were more than happy to do improvised takes, film easter-eggs and riff in the 'in-between' that was generated after the scripted dialogue, while waiting for audience choice, others were confused. This seems to be a consequence of filming in an unconventional medium, and

something that could have been fixed with production meetings and rehearsals.

As a director, the in-between after dialogue or action while waiting for player choice became my favourite space. It was strange not calling cut after a scene, but allowing for time, it felt almost rebellious. There were times where I could feel the anxiety of the actor, and would need to plan an action for them to perform in this space for them to feel comfortable. There were others, however - namely, Jack and George - who reveled in it, who took it to new places each time, viewed the in-between as valuable yet freeing for their performance - this is a section that might be skipped! But tonally, is very important, and golden comedy moments can be 'hidden' here.


Editing has been difficult. The usual green screen fiasco aside (see my node layout below!), I am editing a 'feature film' as 85 smaller parts. I have 85 sequences in Premiere! And when it comes to uploading them, there will be even more than this to account for the re-ordering of information and links, to allow for jokes to be hidden when 'revisiting' certain avenues (ie. in order to not repeat scenes when rooms are re-visited, I need to upload, link and account for every possible order of navigation!).

Further Reflections

I filmed some production blogs during the editing process (so far) which you can find below. I also have an easter egg video, of George improvising a dance to 'don't stop me now' for the Shaun of the Dead sequence, which I later found out through the Always Sunny podcast, is the same song Charlie improvises a dance to in the show - I've always through George looked like Charlie Day, so I made a little edit to compare the pair! Lastly, see the behind the scenes video released after production wrapped.


Philosophical approach to art concerned with value of works and how they're experienced.

Aesthetic cognitive = value of a work lies in its ability to help us understand, order and illuminate everyday experience.

Other approaches = value = enjoyment, pleasure, or emotional stimulation

How can a film be effective, affective or thoughtful

Inquiring into the nature of the cinematic experience

Anti-cinema (informal):

Any form of cinema that defies cinematic conventions (see: postmodernism)

Eg. Ozu, Ida.


Alternate reality games

Interactive networked narrative that uses the real world as a platform and employs transmedia storytelling

Has specific terminology - puppet master, the curtain, rabbit hole, tinag (this is not a game)

Real life as medium

Platformless narrative (not bound to a medium)

Collaborative storytelling

Cognitivism (Cognitive Film Theory):

Psychological processes involved in acquisition, organisation and use of knowledge

Viewers' response to film form devices though rational and conscious interpretation

Challenged uy non-cognitive responses to film as well as questions of aesthetics

Distanced from film analysis that aim to uncover underlying codes, meanings, deep structures, etc. - semiotics, structuralism, ideological criticism, and psychoanalytic film theory.


"A machine for the production of variety of expression" (Aarseth 1997, p. 3).

Focus on form, not content

"Cybertext is a perspective I use to describe and explore the communication strategies of dynamic texts" (Aarseth 1997, p. 5).

"The mechanical organization of the text by positing the intricacies of the medium as an integral part of the literary exhange" (Aarseth 1997, p. 1)


Based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.


Aarseth: cybertext

Requires nontrivial effort to navigate

not medium specific; concerned with mechanisms of form

Text-as-game (not text v game)

Film-as-game (film v game)

"Mechanical organisation of the text by positing the intricacies of the medium as an integral part of the literary exchange" (Aarseth 1997, p. 1)


Full motion video

Video game narration techniquew that rely on rec-recorded video to display action

Games that are primarily presented through FMVs referred to as full-motion video games or interactive films

Interactive film:

A video game or interactive media that has the characteristics of cinematic film

In video game industry, refers to a movie game

In film industry, refers to interactive cinema

Inclusive of FMVs, but mostly refers to choice-based narratives

Heavy rain - discourse around interactive film or video game? Does it matter?

Interactive video:

Digital video with clickable 'hotspots' which perform an action when touched

Might trigger info, jump to a new video, change the story line


A method of film criticism that moves away from the interpretive theory and towards a more empirical analysis of film, developed by David Bordwell.

Film narrative and stylistic form

Activity of the viewer in making sense of films

Meaning in any film emerges through a combination of devices (form, style, content)

Perception, emotion and cognition on viewers' part are central in the functioning of a films formal qualities.

Postmodernism (film):

Subvert the mainstream conventions of narrative structure and characterisation

Test the audience's suspension of belief

Such films typically break down cultueral divide between high and low art

Does not abide by traditional narrative expression

Three key characteristics: homage and pastiche, meta-reference/self-reflexivity, bridging of gap between low and high brow artistic styles

Often concerned with liminality


A process of dividing a film into its sequences in order to analyse its form.


Coined by Mark Danielewski

Sign + icon

"Rather than engage those textual faculties of the mind remediating the pictorial or those visual faculties remediating language, the signiconic simultaneously engages both in order to lessen the significance of both and therefore achieve a third perception" (Daniewski, nd.)


Scheme of classification, especially a hierarchical classification, in which things are organised into groups or types; empirical/objective classification and filtration of observable characteristics.

Textual Analysis:

Breaking a film down into its formal elements: narrative and style.

In some: goal to expose underlying meaning - groundwork for symptomatic readings.

Alternative approach - neoformalist.

Detailed breakdown or close reading.

Segmentation as a tool.

Transmedia storytelling

Telling a story or experience across multiple platforms and formats using digital technologies

Various delivery channels

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