Our friends at UNIT9 have been at it again, and by ‘it’ we mean creating mind blowing storytelling experiences that push the boundaries of interactive film. This time they’ve teamed up with renowned international film school The Filmakademie BadenWuerttemberg.
FIVE MINUTES is a live action game created for zombie lovers and tough as nails audiences. Written and directed by Maximilian Niemann and produced by Felix Faißt, both students at The Filmakademie. Featuring G-SHOCK watches, the live action experience blurs the line between a zombie game and a branded interactive film.
“It’s a gaming experience in which the user discovers what makes the G-SHOCK unique by being directly involved in the action,” says director Maximilian Niemann. “We want users to experience this watch for themselves so that nothing is promised: it is proven.”
In order to create FIVE MINUTES, the producers of the project developed a custom HTML framework, meaning that the game can be played on all desktop and tablet devices with no app installation and is suitable for a variety of users as it offers three levels of difficulty.
CS caught up with Felix and Maximilian to ask them a few more questions:
What was the brief?
M: Our goal was to make a film in which the product takes the central role, yet is not excessively featured. The scenario ‘The Zombie Apocalypse’ serves as a stage upon which an emotional story takes place. Our project is more than just a short film; it is an experience – similar to that of a computer game. The viewer is able to take part in the action and thereby discovers what makes up a G-SHOCK. This is not told to the viewers; rather they are able to experience it for themselves. Nothing is promised, it is proved.
Where did the inspiration for the project come from?
F: The Filmakademie is a kind of playground; we are free to decide what projects we would like to do in a given framework. So we looked for new ways of storytelling which combine the best aspects of film and the internet. We found a few really amazing projects which eventually inspired us to make an interactive branded short. Apart from the good ones there are many projects which just added some interactivity like an overlay and in the end it didn’t matter how well you played or if you played at all. So our main goal was set: The interactivity should really be a part of the film!
What were the biggest challenges during the project?
F: As usual there was not that much time until the shoot, so we had to develop not only a script but an interactive concept in a very short amount of time. The interactivity should really be a part of the film that’s why the concept had to be ready at the beginning of the shoot.
M: Apart from the technical aspects we focused mainly on script and cast.
The idea was to reach a wide audience on the web and therefore to write and shoot this film in English. Therefore we went to London several times and had the chance to meet and cast excellent actors.
I’m really happy that Kieran Bew (father) and Hannah Chinn (daughter) agreed to fight along our side. Besides being funny as hell they are also amazing actors. Thank you guys!
F: One of the biggest challenges was the programming of the interactive part. As this is a really complex and time-consuming task it was of course quite impossible to find a company or any developers who were willing to commit to our project for several months without getting paid especially in the early stage when everything was just our vision. Eventually Max decided to start programming by himself or rather in a first step to learn programming. If it weren’t for that this interactive project wouldn’t exist now. But fortunately we stayed in contact with Piero Frescobaldi from UNIT9, so they could help us to finish the programming.
What did you learn during this project?
F: Filmmaking itself is very complex, but with the interactivity there is another additional dimension and in the end everything is about the right workflow and how to communicate everything.
What were the most interesting examples of experiential games that you found when researching?
M: We especially loved the emotions generated by Resuscitation Council – Lifesaver, the gamification of Adidas – Nitrocharge and the overall feel of 24 Hours Happy.
How would you describe your experience of working with UNIT9 during this project?
F: As FIVE MINUTES is the first interactive project for us it was really great to work with such an experienced company. UNIT9 has really been a great help and we have the feeling that everyone is having fun working on this project.
M: How could you not love these guys when they can even laugh about our bad German humor?
Seriously: When you think of UNIT9 the first thing that comes to mind is technical perfection. But when you start working with these guys you immediately find out that they focus even more on achieving emotions.
In my opinion this should be the ultimate objective of every project.
After the interactive version we will finish the non-interactive version, that means a “simple” short film. Then we will focus on our diploma and who knows, maybe it will be an interactive project again.