A new video series called That Moment When is pretty much my kryptonite. And I mean that as a compliment.
See, I’m the kind of person who has to watch shows like The Office with my hands over my eyes. Violence? Gore? Monsters? All fine. But introduce any embarrassment or social discomfort, and suddenly I’m cringing.
That Moment When has plenty of discomfort, and it doubles down by forcing the viewer to participate. The show was produced by interactive video startup Eko (formerly known as Interlude) in partnership with Sony Pictures Entertainment and production company Olive Bridge Entertainment.
Founder and CEO Yoni Bloch noted that this is Eko’s first release with Sony, which invested in the company last year. The show was created using Eko’s Studio product, and it’s designed to show off the startup’s approach to storytelling.
One of the key elements, Bloch said, is the fact that there are “no wrong answers” and “losing is just as much fun as winning.” In fact, he’s seen some viewers go back and intentionally try to make bad choices, because it’s funnier that way.
What’s most impressive about the series is how the interactivity is fully baked into the story, rather than feeling like a gratuitous addition. (It probably helps that the episodes are about five minutes long, so the gimmick doesn’t wear out its welcome.)
Created and directed by Sandeep Parikh of The Guild and The Legend of Neil, That Moment When follows Milana Vayntrub as Jill, who desperately struggles to remember a forgotten friend’s name at a party (in episode one) and then has to deal with the embarrassment of getting dumped in public (in episode two). As each episode plays, the viewer has to help Jill out, selecting how she should answer particularly tough questions — and also, occasionally, playing other mini games.
That Moment When is being released on the Eko website, and it will also be distributed through other channels like Facebook.
“We don’t really care where you watch it,” Bloch said.
And while the show is free, it includes what Eko calls its “sparks” ad unit — video ads that are better-integrated into the story than your standard pre-roll or mid-roll. For example, the company says it could show viewers a positive ad after viewers have made the right decision to help Jill.
Update: An Eko spokesperson got back to me with more details about the rest of the series. Two new episodes will go live every Tuesday for the next couple of weeks, and then the finale (episode seven) will be published on December 5.