A New Way To Tell Stories: Let The Viewer Choose The Structure

By Pamela Miller, Film Independent Blog

Writer/director [and NALIP member] Alonso Mayo calls his current project, Untitled Murder Project 2.0, "an experiment that got out of hand."

He had finished his film The Story of Luke, which he first workshopped at Film Independent's 2007 Screenwriting Lab. That film, about a young man with autism who embarks on a quest for a job and a girl, premiered at the 2012 San Diego Film Festival where it won Best Film. It had a theatrical run in April, came out on iTunes and cable around the same time. But says Mayo, "It's like having a kid; it's never really over. I wrote it in '07 and the DVD came out last month. The pace is not as hectic as it was a year ago, but there's still always something to do."

As Luke has been winding down, the out-of-hand-experiment was ramping up, with Mayo devoting his free time to creating the web series with a twist. It's a 49 episode interactive series about "a friendly brunch between three couples that takes a dark turn when an uninvited guest who holds damning secrets interrupts the festivities—and is soon found murdered."

The twist is that viewers can choose the order they watch the episodes, which are divided into three timelines (Right Now, Hours Ago and Weeks Ago).  "I'm really into the new ways of telling stories," Mayo says. "I want to focus on telling stories in a non-linear way, taking away some of the director's decisions, figuring out how to make it so the audience can make those decisions. At the end of each chapter, I want you to think someone else did it."

Though he is working on apps that follow the same choose-your-own-storyline model, like most indie ventures, Mayo's project was driven by passion, rather than the promise of a financial payoff. He admits he's obsessed with the intersection of film and the Internet. "I found a small group of actors who were crazy enough to play along with me," Mayo says. "I had no financing. It was just me and bunch of actors I knew having fun."

Want to explore the interactive new media project Untitled Murder Project 2.0? So far 31 episodes are live, consisting of nearly 2 hours of murderous entertainment! Head on over to the YouTube Channel to get started: 

(There is even a "Lean Back" mode, where all you have to do is get comfortable and leave all the episode decisions to the filmmakers)