With the debut of his film Blind Date Interactive this Friday, September 24, director John Lengsfelder will give his audience the unique chance to control how the plot will unfold, promoting them from silent participants in a dark theater to people in charge of determining the characters’ fates.
Lengsfelder — whose repertoire includes the 1982 documentary From the Ground Up, which documented the launch of the first space shuttle — was inspired to create this unique film by his own interest in involving an audience in a process which is traditionally kept separate from them. “I got tired of just putting out films where [the director has] no relationship with the audience,” Lengsfelder said. “What I wanted to do with Blind Date Interactive was to take the experience of film, and make it a group experience.”
During the screening, the audience will be given 12 situations when there are three different options of where to take the story, which will dictate how the film’s titular blind date will fare. After discussing the choices, the audience will vote on what direction the protagonist should take.
The particular choices that the audience make during each of the “decision point” discussions will not only affect the course of the new relationship, but also how they themselves will view the characters. Lengsfelder filmed around 36 different smaller movies (not counting the films which precede each decision point) to ensure that there is an interesting array of choices.
“In my own life, I find that our ability to make decisions really affects our quality of life,” Lengsfelder said. “The most apparent way that [this is present] is in relationships.”
In offering his audience the chance to engage in a group discussion about how a new relationship should progress, Lengsfelder will involve another subject that he finds fascinating: group decision making. “What better way to [exemplify how decisions are made] than in a group?” he asked. “When other people share their decision making process, I learn a lot about myself — I hear someone’s rationale, and I define myself with [how my reasoning differs from theirs]. A lot of research went into this film because I’m so interested in decision making, about knowing more about how we decide.”
There were, according to the director, about seven books that went into the making of the film, among them How We Decide, by Jonah Lehrer, which discusses the two sides of decision making: rational and emotional. Lengsfelder hopes that both facets of decision making will be explored in an interesting way in the discussions prompted by the film’s decision points.
“It will stimulate people, and make them think in different ways,” Lengsfelder said. “It should be interesting, and [in a prior screening] it got a lot of laughs.”
Blind Date Interactive debuts this Friday, September 24, and continues on Friday and Saturday nights through October 23, at the former Pep Boys building, 424 State Street. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door and include a complimentary glass of wine. The screenings are for people aged 21 and over. For more info, see www.BlindDateInteractive.com.