“‘Bandersnatch’ is a unique ‘Black Mirror’ story in that it’s interactive,” says creator/writer Charlie Brooker in Netflix’s just-released video featurette (watch above). He adds, “You, the viewer, get to decide what’s going to happen. It’s actually quite complicated behind the scenes, but for the viewer it’s fairly straightforward.” Ever since “Bandersnatch” debuted on the streaming service on December 28 fans have been obsessed with the choose-your-own adventure story, particularly its many alternate endings.
“You are given choices,” notes Brooker, referring to the options that come up on the screen at various parts of the telefilm. “Will you go out of the door or will you jump out of the window? But there’s myriad sort of timelines and story branches you can go down. Netflix asked us if we’d be interested in doing an interactive story. I knew I wanted to do another period episode and I thought, ‘Well, what if you’re controlling somebody in the past?'”
The “somebody” that fans get to control is Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead), an English video game coder who’s trying to adapt his favorite choose-your-own-adventure book into a computer program in the summer of 1984. As fans begins choosing more and more options for Stefan, he slowly begins to realize that he’s no longer in control of his own physical actions.
Brooker adds that it was “very challenging at every stage” to create all of the different timelines for the fans to explore. “There were points where in working stuff out, it got like trying to do a Rubik’s cube in your head, and I had to literally get up from my desk and kind of walk around the house holding my head.”
Will “Bandersnatch” find similar success at the upcoming Emmys in the Best TV Movie category as “San Junipero” (2017) and “USS Callister” (2018) did at the past two ceremonies? Of note, a new Emmy rule dictates that films must now be at least 75 minutes in length to be eligible for this category, but luckily “Bandersnatch” qualifies as the default path (without a user choosing any options) is 90 minutes.