Writer and director Edgar Wright is known for his much-loved TV and movie work such as Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Tintin – but this year he swapped 35mm cameras for the internet and produced a surreal and witty web story called Brandon Generator.
It’s a four-part yarn showcased through the Internet Explorer 9 browser (IE9) and developed using the latest web language, HTML5.
This week the final episode went live, bringing to an end a truly remarkable collaboration.
Marvel and Lucasfilm illustrator Tommy Lee Edwards did the artwork, Julian Barratt provided narration (The Mighty Boosh), David Holmes wrote the music – and hundreds of internet users contributed to the storyline.
Members of the public, by writing emails and leaving voice messages - over 8,000 in total - were able to directly influence the direction the plot took.
Microsoft bank-rolled the project to show just what its latest browser and HTML5 is capable of.
On this evidence, rather a lot.
The end result is truly gritty and immersive, with Edwards’ artwork looking simply stunning.
For those not in the know, the story revolves around coffee-addicted Brandon struggling to work out whether or not his whole life is a dream – think Total Recall, comic-style – and even facing the grim prospect of being “deleted”.
To find out his fate, click here.
Whether Wright ever produces another project like this remains to be seen. If he doesn’t it won’t be because he didn’t enjoy making this one.
He said: “The final episode has been the most fun to work on as Brandon's head trip comes to a coffee soaked climax. Having co-writers develop the story in real-time and weaving in user submissions from so many people has been a highly enjoyable challenge and a great new experience for me. I’m excited for people to see Brandon Generator as a whole story and I’m incredibly proud of the project.”
Tommy Lee Edwards added: “I don’t think any of us were ready for the intensity of this project. The crowd-sourced nature of it meant curve balls were a day-to-day occurrence but the animation had to be perfect for this to work. There were sleepless nights and stressful days but the end result is really special and I’m pleased to be part of this new genre of storytelling on the web.”
Gabby Hegerty, Internet Explorer lead, commented: “From day one we wanted to create something truly original, incredibly beautiful, immersive and interactive.
“Brandon Generator was a first of its kind, developed in HTML5 to really show what’s possible on the web today with IE9. Experimenting with different styles, concepts and techniques took us to new territory and the crowd-sourcing elements helped create an entirely new genre of storytelling.”