|Fernando R. Gutierrez De Jesus,Nathan Penlington,Nick Watson,Sam Smaïl
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“This was a real story with lots of branches, off-shoots and multiple endings. Somehow all the components had to stay true to life and still make sense, and it’s fair to say we didn’t know if we’d accomplished that until we first tried it out with an audience.”
Choose Your Own Documentary team, in an interview with Tribeca
When Nathan Penlington puchased 106 Choose Your Own Adventure books on Ebay, he had no idea he was about to stumble on a story that would lead him to create a massive and complex documentary experience. Tucked inside one of the books were pages from the diary of a young boy, Terence Prendergast. Terence writes about running away from home, flying alone from England to Scotland, cutting school, thoughts of suicide, and other teenage dramas of epic proportions. Penlington was faced with the first choice that would lead him on his own documentary adventure: what should he do?
After deciding to track down Terence Prendergast and attempt to unite him with his lost diary, Penlington recruited three documentary film makers to help him capture this story of search and discovery. Penlington was inspired by the twists and turns of his search to mimic content with form, crafting an interactive live show that mirrors the Choose Your Own Adventure model.
Audiences of Choose Your Own Documentary listen to Prendergast tell the tale, accompanied by segments of footage from the filmmakers’ search for Prendergast. Along the way, they vote via handheld devices at each step of the way: Who will they speak to next? Where will they go? What object should they investigate for more detail?
What unfolds in each performance is one of a combined 1,566 versions of the documentary project, each one capturing the imagination of audiences not just through an astounding story but through the ability of the audience to affect the narrative that unfolds, investing the power of live performance with the interactivity of a digital documentary.