Would you ever talk with your partner about what one of you would do if the other cheated? Or about the best memories you have of your relationship? Or about what the power dynamic is like between you? Obviously, these are difficult conversations to have, but they’re ones that we need to have. And the interactive documentary The And drives that point home like nothing else.
A collaboration between millennial marketing agency Noise, a project called The Skin Deep, and director Topaz Adizes, The And explores relationships, communication, and how we connect to each other. What’s an interactive documentary? Nerve describes it quite accurately as “a Choose Your Own Adventure-style film, but with less wizards and dragons and more brutal honesty and cheating confessions.” Each visitor to the website will view a different short film — roughly a minute and a half long — based on answers to four questions posed at the beginning of the experience. The questions could be anything from “What’s the correct usage of money?” to “How do you feel when someone hits on your partner?” Once you’ve answered them, the website will string together clips from a database of interviews featuring 30 different couples.
The couples participating in the project cover a huge variety of relationship types, and they range in age from the very young to the decidedly less young. During the filming process, each couple sat across a table from each other, taking turns drawing questions from a deck of cards and talking about their answers. Sometimes it’s magical to watch. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable. Watching how people do or don’t connect with each other, and how they communicate in difficult situations, is both fascinating on an intellectual level and incredibly poignant on an emotional one.
Explained Adizes to Nerve: “We used a unique tagging system to build a film that would be relevant to you based on how you answer the questions. Rather than a binary system, or a static chatbot model, we did a lot of research on questionnaires and personality tests and did some really cool decision tree modeling.” The models, he said, “helped us find ways to connect the way people answer to the type of relationship issues they might be experiencing.”
Not going to lie: I’ve watched four different versions so far, refreshing the page and answering new questionnaires each time. I’ve also spent a bunch of time with the other ways The And lets you explore the project, watching specific couples answer a bunch of questions or listening to the answers to one particular question from a bunch of the couples. I can’t for the life of me remember who said it (bad, Lucia, bad), but one of my favorite sayings goes something like, “As an artist, my role is to act as a mirror. Whatever you give to me, I reflect back at you tenfold.” The And is one of the strongest embodiments of this philosophy that I’ve ever seen. And for that reason, it’s something with which I think everyone should spend some time — whether you’re in a relationship or not.
Check out the trailer above, then head on over to the And website to experience it for yourself. Oh, and if you’re curious about other interactive documentaries, check out The Creators Project’s roundup of the six most innovative ones out there. It’s definitely worth it.
Image: The And