Remember the classic computer game from the 1988 Tom Hanks movie “Big?” The one in which young Josh (David Moscow) must choose the right way to defeat a wizard? That game came to mind during my first encounter with MovieMaze™, an interactive adventure created by UK-based Stickmen Pictures and Hollywood’s Leomark Studios.
“The Mechanic,” a slightly off-kilter interactive film, is available for no charge for a limited time for the game. Actor Jacob P. Matthews plays Indeep Sheet, a mechanic who gets mixed up with beautiful women and very bad people. Players guide him through the game, but don’t be surprised if you make a fatal choice early in the adventure.
“It’s inspired by that ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ thing, but we’ve also seen video games for years based on that same concept,” producer Maria Collis said when reached by phone.
In 1995, Interfilm Technologies produced “Mr. Payback,” an interactive short film that failed to find a market. In order to make this concept work at the time, theater owners installed hand-grip controllers in theater seats. Audience choices were tabulated electronically at each decision point, sending the characters in a direction chosen by majority vote.
Though “Mr.Payback” was a bit clumsy for the big screen, “The Mechanic” works beautifully on an iPad. Producer Erik Lundmark, who joined Collis on the call, said they wanted to do something on a mobile platform. The mechanics of the game are really just filmmaking, Lundmark explained, but it also contains lots of variations on the same scenes.
“It was a challenge for the actors, because they have to play the same scenes different ways. But we had a great time; they were terrific,” Collis added.
Lundmark promises that somewhere in this cinematic maze lurks a werewolf. “We had a top-notch, special effects artist in from Hollywood who is a buddy and colleague of mine,” he said. “He came on board and made amazing, amazing creature creations.”
Lundmark also said there are three real storylines that you have to find all the way through without getting killed or distracted. “Sometimes you can jump storylines,” he explained. “In the middle of one story, you can actually crossover into another one.”
The MovieMaze™ app itself is like a bookshelf, Collis said, and will always be free to download, but there will be a charge for future titles. “It’s exciting because we already are talking to other filmmakers who are jazzed by the idea. We are thinking about having them produce MovieMaze™ titles for us or with us or submit scripts to us. We want to get a great pipeline of content out there,” she said.
Collis also added that they purposely did not include instructions. “There is a back arrow on every menu. If you want to jump to previous menu or if you want to jump back to the very beginning, you can,” she said.
MovieMaze™ can be played on the iPhone, iPad, and Android-equipped devices, making it easy to kill the mechanic while you are killing time. “I’m tired of ‘Words with Friends,'” Collins offered. “And the guy who plays the mechanic has that priceless scream.”
Collis and Lundmark also will be showing the app at the pop culture expo Comikaze in Los Angeles on November 1-3. Darcy Donovan, who plays the beautiful blonde in “The Mechanic,” will also be there to meet fans.
Android users can download the MovieMaze™ app at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=app.moviemaze.com
iPhone and iPad users can get the app on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/moviemaze/id717099109?mt=8