The genesis of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch lies in kids entertainment.
In a new batch of behind-the-scenes videos that chronicle the development of Netflix’s grand experiment, executives and creatives involved with the film explain how the interactive sausage got made.
“One of the things we started talking about is interactive content,” Todd Yellin, Netflix’s Vice President of product, says in regards to the conversation around the rise of “internet TV.” “We tried a couple of kids specials. Then it was time to roll up our sleeves and go, ‘How about if we do something bigger? How about if we did it for adults?’”
Netflix approached Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker and series producer Annabel Jones with this concept of interactive adult programming. “I think we only wanted to do it if we thought it was adding an extra layer thematically,” Jones explains. “We didn’t really want it to feel like it was just a gimmick.”
The idea for the Bandersnatch story began as, “what if you’re controlling somebody in the past?” From there it spiraled into what streamers have been puzzling over since its release on Dec. 28. In the year 1984, Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead), a young programmer, starts to question the nature of his reality while developing an interactive video game based on a controversial fantasy novel. Viewers watching at home are given a choose-your-own-adventure experience in which they make decisions for the character, resulting in one trillion variations on the narrative.
Yes, Brooker has his own narrative flowchart to keep all the diverging storylines in order.