Steven Soderbergh's new project -- an app called "Mosaic" -- lets users navigate through the cinematic story of children's author Olivia Lake (Sharon Stone).
Don’t think of Steven Soderbergh’s new project, “Mosaic” as a “choose your own adventure” for grown-ups.
Yes, the HBO production is available Thursday, Nov. 8 through a free app that you download and play on a mobile device.
But viewers don’t decide the outcome of the story of children’s author Olivia Lake (Sharon Stone), who winds up dead. They decide instead how they want to navigate it.
“Mosaic” is a “branching narrative” made up of a series of “nodes” dedicated to characters, plot lines and back stories. Viewers can veer off from the plotline to explore characters, watch extra scenes, look over documents connected to the story — or stay with the main narrative from beginning to end.
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“I thought, ‘Is there something between a game and what I’ve been doing on the film side?'” Soderbergh asked Monday night, when he demonstrated “Mosaic” at HBO’s Seattle offices. “It seems to exist in a space that is connected to both.”
Soderbergh, who won a directing Oscar for “Traffic” and helmed hit movies like “Erin Brockovich” and the “Ocean’s” series, is intrigued by the possibilities that the branching narrative format offers.
“I view this as an open-space format that is there to be rebuilt,” he said.
The story was written by Ed Solomon (“Men in Black,” “Now You See Me”), who was intrigued by the idea of writing something that didn’t have a straight beginning, middle and end.
“When in your life do you get to do things you’ve never done before?” Solomon asked, during the panel discussion about “Mosaic” with Soderbergh.
The interactive storytelling experience will be followed by a six-part limited series of the same name that will air on HBO in January 2018. Stone is joined by Garrett Hedlund, Frederick Weller, Beau Bridges and Paul Reubens, among others.
The 15 or 16 chapters of “Mosaic” stretch over seven and a half hours, Soderbergh said.
“I’m curious to see how this lands,” he said. “What choices are people making? Did they finish? Did they stop? In that sense, it’s the ultimate chatter generator. It was designed to do that.”
“It’s not a film or a TV show,” Soderbergh said. “It’s just its own thing. A symbol. Like Prince.”