WEB SERIES REVIEW: The Random Adventures of Brandon Generator – Episodes 1 & 2

The interactive animated series directed by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) and illustrated by Tommy Lee Edwards (Marvel and Lucas Films) puts the audience in the driving seat by allowing them to submit story lines, characters and prose.
There are already 3000 audience submissions and those who have submitted ideas may find their characters, prose or creatures incorporated into the story.

I’ve just finished watching episode two of The Random Adventures of Brandon Generator  and I still don’t know how to describe it. I don’t mean this as a negative comment; in this day and age of ‘rinse and repeat’ being the standard modus operandi for so many creative properties, it’s refreshing to see someone trying something different.

The Random Adventures of Brandon Generator is part comic, part audio novel and part animated film which at times feels like a digital version of The Truman Show with the audience taking the role of the show’s creator  but to a lesser extent.

The hook behind the Brandon Generator is that the audience can interact and change the story of Brandon, a writer suffering from writer’s block, who by the end of the first episode has a caffeine induced blackout. Episode two opens with him trying to make sense of the fact that while he was passed out person or persons unknown had left messages on his answer phone and drawings of monsters on his sketch pad.

These interactions have been provided by the audience  in between the episodes and by the end of episode 2 we find Brandon in an even bigger mess forced to now rely on the audience even more to write/draw him to safety. Some of the ways provided at the end of episode 2 to do this I’ve stuck below.

  • A misty windscreen invites the audience to help Brandon, drawing him out of trouble by sketching his escape route to the next scene.
  • A trapped piece of paper on the windscreen encourages viewers to suggest what happens next by writing storyline ideas
  • The phone and business card allows users to leave voice or Skype messages for Brandon.
  • Audiences can view all the images, plotlines and messages left for Brandon and IE9 users also benefit from exclusive content, notifications and instant access to social feeds via the unique Pinning and Jump List functionality.

Both episodes look and sound amazing although I would expect nothing less seeing that the series is directed by Edgar Wright and the art is by Tommy Lee Edwards. God knows how long it takes to put an episode together but the attention to detail and the effort is there to see on the screen.

The same goes for the well crafted website – there a real sense of the noir that flows through both the episodes and onto the website. This feeling is enhanced by the voice over by Julian Barratt (The Mighty Boosh).

I’m always on the look out for something different and The Random Adventures of Brandon Generator certainly fits the bill. What stood out to me in these the first two episodes is that while being wacky and out there the story is loose enough to allow it to go anywhere in later episodes. If Brandon got kidnapped by aliens in the next episode it would not seem out-of-place to me. The real test of the central idea as we get more episodes however will be just how interactive the story allows the audience to be vs staying within the confines placed within it by the creative team.

There are many ways to interact with the story and while some may find this a little overwhelming I think the opposite. For this kind of project it’s all about allowing people to have different routes into the story. Not everyone can write prose or draw or leave voice mail messages and record ideas for Brandon’s dictaphone. By allowing the audience to use different media it allows them to interact with the story in ways that they feel comfortable with. It’s a smart move.

The Random Adventures of Brandon Generator is an intriguing and slick idea backed up with an arsenal of psychedelic visuals and audio designed to entice it’s audience into becoming more than just a casual observer of the overdosed caffeine adventures of its hero.

Personally I hope as the story draws on the creators become more comfortable sharing control with the audience thus allowing for an even more collaborative experience. One thing is certain I will never look at a cup of coffee in the same way again..


Reviewer: Nuge

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