The Weathered Underground
|The Weathered Underground|
|Directed by||David N. Donihue|
|Produced by||Doug Magallon, Greg Strom
Doug Magallon, Greg Strom
|Written by||David N. Donihue|
David N.. Donihue
|Cinematography||Justin Dylan Renny|
|Distributed by||Indican Pictures|
Length and number of choices
The Weathered Underground features over thirty different endings and hundreds of choices in the middle. Generally, the viewer makes a choice every ninety seconds. To follow one plot line from beginning to end takes between 8 – 20 minutes.
21-year-old Eric is going through a skull crunching break up as he battles being stuck in a humiliating job and surrounded by friends who are far less bright than he. As Eric works to deal with demons left inside of him after being shattered by both young love and strange upbring, he must choose what he will do next in life.
The Interactive film begins with Eric (the character whom the audience makes choices for) speaking with a friend on the phone, who tempts him to ditch work in favor of an evening of psychedelic drugs at an after-hours club. Here, within the first ninety seconds, the viewer uses his/her remote control (much like selecting a chapter on a DVD menu) to decide if Eric should go to work or meet his friends at the local bar, which is rumored to be a "tweeker hang", (a place where those addicted to crystal meth hang out and do business.
Possible plot outcomes
Some of the plot-lines that viewer can steer Eric into include: A relationship with a beautiful yet schizophrenic meth head, a confrontation with his ex-girlfriend who remains involved in his life just enough to destroy his future relationships, a chance to rescue a stranger from a domestic violence situation, an evening of PCP laced shrooms and psychotic hallucinations and many various plot-lines involving love, sex, religion, work place politics and self-destructive behavior.
There is a three part structure behind the plot design for The Weathered Underground. The plot was first created as a chart. Donihue developed the first "decision tree" to chart and map out all of the scenes that lead the thirty different endings. A three part psychology was used in how the plot and characters would unfold.
At first glance, The Weathered Underground is a collection of irreverent pulp stories from the darker corners of young life in the big city. At a closer inspection, the interactive picture is a complex web that slowly, as all options plays through, shows a psychology behind its characters, as the decisions made change the sides of Eric's personality and the world's reaction to him. Through choosing the different options, the viewer is shown Eric's (often for comic effect) justifications behind the decision that the viewer has just made. Simple choices not only effect the central character's fate, but also his personality and belief system.
References to both classical and pop psychology can be found between the lines in both the plot and decision making process. Strangely, the film initially hides its depth, with the use of a cartoonish style, music video editing and a loud, chaotic soundtrack.
Beyond its "for gags" psychology and exploitation of sex and drugs, TWU follows a very specific moral code. If the viewer chooses selfishly, horrible realities await Eric. If the viewer chooses unselfishly, he/she is put in a position of responsibility, or ultimately, a place where he/she will receive the love of another. In test screenings at SxSW festival, many viewers commented on how "It shows you that every little decision you make could change your life forever."
The third, and most complex aspect of The Weathered Underground's plot structure, is in relation to the genre that the film plays in. Decisions that are erratic, lead to a style of film that is campy, irreverent and filled with outlandish visuals and ridiculous plot moves. Decisions that are logical or empathetic, lead to a more serious genre, where the film making style is more subtle, sophisticated, and devoid of the campy attitude that exists in the other plot-lines. In essence, depending on what the viewer chooses, not only does the fate of the character change, but the entire style and genre of the film change as well.