Cosmo Kimball and the Perfect Hat is the first in a projected series of Storyfork Films.
What is Storyfork?
Storyfork is a series of interactive animated films, designed for touchscreen devices.
The concept of nonlinear storytelling dates back at least to the early 1940s, in the writings of Jorge Luis Borges. Often referred to as "gamebooks", nonlinear fiction became wildly popular in the 1980s. The idea is relatively simple: You start reading the story. The protagonist comes to a crossroads. You get to pick which of two choices they make. If you think they should go through the door, you turn to page 4. If you think they should crawl through the window instead, you turn to page 103. You continue on, making numerous choices along the way, each choice creating more storylines. There could be dozens of endings within one book. And hopefully, you wanted to start at the beginning again, make different choices, and see what else could happen.
Nonlinear storytelling: It’s a fantastic concept. But most gamebooks tended to be...well, kind of silly, often showing little regard for logic or narrative structure. Within a book, events might happen in one storyline that were logically impossible in the context of other storylines. And a printed book is an inherently clumsy device for interactive storytelling.
Storyfork Films bring the excitement of charting your own course through a story, and deliver it seamlessly as an interactive film viewable on touchscreen devices. The film pauses, you touch the screen to signify which choice you want the main character to make, and the story continues down that path.
Of course the choices we make can vastly influence the direction of our lives. Narrative stories with branching storylines are a dynamic and exciting way to experience that. But no matter how light and whimsical the story you’re creating may be, you have to respect the inherent reality of its world. Otherwise, you're just not taking it seriously. Storyfork Films may be whimsical, frightening, hilarious, mind-blowing, or just plain silly — but they will always take answering the basic "What if...?" question seriously.
And while “bad” endings might be possible, Storyfork Films aren’t geared towards "learning to make good choices in life". It’s much more interesting to explore how the choices we make can drastically alter our lives, and how personality can be revealed by watching the same characters in differing circumstances.
While the initial idea is for Storyfork Films to be animated, in truth any medium could be used: live action, puppetry, motion comics, etc.
So: Interactive movies that may be whimsical and geared towards kids, but that always respect the world they evoke — and that respect their viewers. Nonlinear storytelling, done right. That's Storyfork!
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