HBO on Wednesday debuted the free “Mosaic” app as a free download for iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, with an Android version on deck. After exploring multiple narrative storylines in the app, viewers will be able to see how the versions of the story they picked compare with Soderbergh’s vision when HBO premieres “Mosaic” as a six-part limited series on Jan. 22.
“Mosaic,” which has been three years in development, stars Sharon Stone. The cast also includes Garrett Hedlund, Frederick Weller, Beau Bridges, Paul Reubens, Jennifer Ferrin, Devin Ratray, Michael Cerveris, James Ransone, Jeremy Bobb and Maya Kazan.
The app was created in partnership with media-technology company PodOp and developed for HBO by Soderbergh and Casey Silver in conjunction with writer Ed Solomon. More info on “Mosaic” is available at watchmosaic.com.
According to Soderbergh, “Mosaic” is an experiment in what happens when filmmakers ask engineers to serve the story rather than the other way around. “While branching narratives have been around forever, technology now allows, I hope, for a more elegant form of engagement than used to be possible,” Soderbergh said in a statement.
According to the filmmaker, “At no point were we reverse-engineering the story to fit an existing piece of technology; the story was being created in lockstep with the technical team. The fluidity of that relationship made me feel comfortable because I wanted it to be a simple, intuitive experience.”
Soderbergh is developing two more interactive-storytelling series using the same platform developed with PodOp.
After launching the “Mosaic” app, users are introduced to Olivia Lake (Stone), a famous children’s book author and illustrator, and two men who will soon play important roles in her life: Joel (Hedlund), a handyman and aspiring artist, and Eric (Weller), a suitor whose motives may not be genuine. Users must decide whether to follow the next portion of the story from Joel’s or Eric’s perspective — and as the plot unfolds, they will meet a number of new characters with their own versions of the story to tell.
Solomon’s script required Soderbergh to shoot scenes from multiple perspectives. PodOp developed technology for the app that resulted in the company filing for 14 patents, including on script-management tools for user selection-driven narratives and new forms of data mining to inform content experiences.
The “Mosaic” app lets viewers experience the story from multiple perspectives. They can select “film view” to watch the story in full-screen mode; “choice moments” to select which character’s perspective they want to follow; “discoveries,” to dive deeper into the story through additional content, including voicemails and emails between the characters, as well as police reports, news clippings, and other info; and “Look again,” with the ability to go back and view the perspectives missed in previous viewings to get a fuller picture.
Watch the trailer for “Mosaic”:
Pictured above: Sharon Stone and Frederick Weller in Steven Soderbergh’s “Mosaic” for HBO.