Interactive content like Ranveer vs Wild has to account for unpredictability: Netflix

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Netflix’s latest Ranveer vs Wild with Bear Grylls is not a typical reality adventure episode. It has an interactive element to it where the audience controls what actor Ranveer Singh does from the start to the finish. Andy Weil, Vice President, Comedy & Interactive series at Netflix, told that creating interactive content is easier said than done.

While linear stories have a “clear beginning, middle and end, interactive storytelling has the potential for multiple endings,” explained Weil over an email interaction. “From a writing perspective, it’s important to have the choice points at the right intervals in the story. These choices matter to the viewer because the decision impacts the story by taking you down a different path,” added Weil.

He also said that shooting for interactive storytelling has to account for unpredictability which is part of reality-based storytelling and is a challenge. The camera work is also a challenge as maintaining continuity is critical, he added.

“A particular choice could lead the story into a completely different pathway, giving the audience a different experience every time. One can rewatch the special, this time choosing different choices on what Ranveer does, thereby exploring different challenges and scenes which were missed the last time,” he explained further.

For Netflix, this is the first interactive special that uses mixed languages—Ranveer speaks both Hindi and English during the show.

According to the Netflix executive, “interactive expands the possibilities of how stories are told and how viewers engage.” Before this, Netflix’s biggest and best-known interactive show was Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and one of the company’s biggest bets in the genre.

Netflix says that over 94 per cent of its viewers of Bandersnatch participated and made their choices, exploring all the options and discovering the whole story. “We also noticed strong audience reactions to the choice points and talking about “their story”, which was a personal experience for viewers,” Weil added.

He also stressed that Netflix is just scratching the surface of interactive content, and there is more to come.

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