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November 10, 2017

Viewers control how the story unfolds in Steven Soderbergh’s app-based ‘Mosaic’

by John_A

Oscar-winning filmmaker Steven Soderbergh’s long-standing secret project has finally been revealed, and its promise of providing “a new storytelling experience” certainly has some merit, given the unique way that Mosaic will be coming to audiences.

HBO posted a new trailer for the murder-mystery miniseries that offers a preview of not just the story Mosaic will tell, but the interactive way audiences are able to experience it via an app for iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV. (An Android version is reportedly coming soon.) As the story unfolds, viewers are periodically given the chance to choose which character’s perspective to follow or make other decisions that affect how the story is delivered.

While Soderbergh reportedly cringes at the comparison to a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book (according to Wired), it’s an easy comparison to make (and a storytelling strategy that Netflix has also explored). The project does appear to have some outside-the-box thinking behind it.

According to HBO, experiencing Mosaic via the app allows viewers to “choose what point of view from which to follow the story and to, in effect, build their own experience from the material Soderbergh and [writer Ed] Solomon created. The choices one makes build upon one another, enabling multiple tellings of the story from different perspectives and, sometimes, with different conclusions.”

The series stars Academy Award nominee Sharon Stone (Casino, Basic Instinct) as a children’s book author whose body is discovered in Park City, Utah. The mystery of who killed her is the central premise of Mosaic, and in order to figure out the killer’s identity, audiences must navigate through the points of view of a cast of characters played by Garrett Hedlund, Frederick Weller, Beau Bridges, Paul Reubens, Jennifer Ferrin, Devin Ratray, Michael Cerveris, James Ransone, Jeremy Bobb, and Maya Kazan.

Each “episode” of the series varies in length, allowing viewers to digest the mystery in short bursts or extended binges, with opportunities to change the current perspective on events or explore the story from a different angle.

Although the series is free to download now via the app, HBO will broadcast Mosaic as a six-part series in January 2018. The network is hoping that audiences will enjoy blazing their own trail (or trails, with multiple viewings) through the story and then tune in to see Soderbergh’s own vision for the narrative play out.

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