George Chrysostomou previews the interactive crime drama Otis…
The brain child of Casey Stein, Bernard Zeiger, Sanjay Singh and Dustin Grant, Otis has all the potential to be a truly unique series, with a format that holds the key to infinite possibilities and a variety of different situations, with the viewer having an interactive part to play as the plot unfolds.
Otis is a very intriguing prospect as it attempts to tell a story from multiple perspectives. Perhaps what makes this project different from everything out on the market today is not only its interactive element, but the fact that it works within the Nordic Noir and thriller genres. This is important for a couple of reasons, but significantly the fact that these stories are built upon intrigue and mystery, suspense and shock.
Having experienced Otis episode one, which was a just under 10 minute offering of what the project can achieve, it is already clear how much potential this property has for future instalments. The interactivity works on a simple system, with audience members using the A, S and D keys to switch between three alternate perspectives, which cross over and weave amongst themselves. For each you are given some characters points, the relationship on the characters to one another and the stakes they have within this episode. Here’s the remarkable thing. If the genre is built upon intrigue, mystery, suspense and shock, how can the use of different perspectives still fulfil all of these promises, when you understand the journey of three of the four characters featured?
The answer is clever writing and pitching, allowing each character just enough mystery to not understand their true intentions or backstory, allowing a small piece of information to be revealed at a time. The staging in fact adds elements of tension; a house robbery in progress by one character for instance, whilst we see another returning to the home in question, not realising the criminal they are about to come face to face with. Indeed, knowledge is power and the way in which this format allows the audience some knowledge but still manages to refrain from revealing everything is truly remarkable.
What’s more, a project like this allows for multiple viewings of the same episode, each time choosing a different perspective. I watched the same episode four times in order to truly get the feel of the concept – the first three from each characters perspective and then the fourth interlinking each one by switching between them. Every time watching it was a unique viewing experience, suggesting that future instalments have a lot to work with.
This project is still under development and will be released as a full series in 2018. I for one am very much looking forward to seeing the direction in which the series is taken and the potential for unique staging for each episode. Episode 1, as with every great thriller, ended with a genuinely tense cliffhanger, enticing viewers to come back for more in future editions. I for one will certainly be returning to this uniquely formed series upon its release!