Q & A With Director Paul Raschid About His Humdinger of an Interactive Film – Part 2

Since 2019, I have been specializing in interactive films that are also distributed on gaming platforms as FMV (Full Motion Video) games. Following the mainstream success of Netflix’s interactive film ‘Bandersnatch’ in 2018, I believe this format has the potential to become an alternative form of entertainment for film and gaming audiences in the near future.

I was first given the opportunity in this field by producers John Giwa-Amu and Jade Alexander when they hired me to direct interactive sci-fi thriller, ‘The Complex’. Subsequently, I wrote and directed interactive lockdown rom-com, ‘Five Dates’, and fantasy-adventure short film, ‘Deathtrap Dungeon: The Golden Room’.

In September 2022, my interactive hostage-thriller; ‘The Gallery’, released on all major gaming platforms before becoming the UK’s first interactive film to receive a limited cinema release in 2023. My latest project; ‘Ten Dates’ (sequel to ‘Five Dates’), released on Valentine’s Day 2023. – Paul Raschid

GreggWMorris: So is there ever going to be a time when this interactivity does nonfiction, like documentaries? Is that possible?

Director Paul Raschid: I think, yeah, absolutely. I think that there already are people exploring that. I think, obviously, you don’t want to get into the realms of having people rewrite history, but you …

GreggWMorris: We’re doing that already over here, please. {“Here,” referring to Trump, his acolytes and right-wing extremists and right-wing GOP-ers.  I was referring to them and their conspiratorial fictionalizations regarding several issues like subverting voting rights.}

Director Paul Raschid: Exactly. You don’t need the interactivity for that in some ways. But I think what you can do with it with regards to documentary is you cannot give the audience the choice of what areas of a topic or of an event or of whatever the subject matter is they want to explore.

Paul Raschid

So, say you are covering the life of a person, you can give the audience the choice. Okay, do you want to first learn about his later life or his early life? And then if you delve into his early life first, do you want to learn about his school or his parents or so on and so forth. So you’re almost giving the audience the choice of effectively editing their own documentary by choosing the order in which they want to learn about this person or this historical event or whatever the subject matter is.

I would say that sticks out to me as the best use of the interactive format within documentary and true and real life stuff. Nonfiction.

GreggWMorris: So you’ve already done several interactive movies. Do you have a particular preference for which… I think you said you’re pretty much going to be doing it all genres. Do you have any particular genres that stand out that you really want to get into?

Director Paul Raschid: Well, yeah, that’s a really good question, Gregg. And I think you as a professor will know that sort of the first thing that screenwriters are taught very early on is your characters, that always there has to be stakes in this choice. And your characters always need to be making decisions, making choices that sculpt who they are and change who they are and affect the story.

So any place that there is … so the principle is the same. If you’ve got any story that has a character that needs to make decisions, you can just make those decisions, get put those decisions in the hands of the audience. So that umbrella kind of principle that all screenwriters have regardless of genre applies very much to interactive.

So for that reason, I always say that any genre could be interactive. Obviously certain genres are more high stakes. You could have a horror film for instance, where there’s a killer chasing you and you can hide in the attic or you can hide in the basement, or you can try and run to your neighbors and then you give them that choice. So on the face of it, those kinds of really high stakes life or death decisions are immediately very, very appealing.

But then again, people really respond well to the romcom one where it’s on a date and you are like, Ooh, should I say this? Should I say that? Should I open the door for them when they’re coming in?

Even those decisions, people can consider them high stakes because on a romcom date you want to impress someone and you want to make a good impression and you want romance to blossom. So there’s any kind of genre, as long as there’s a genre where there’s stakes and there are decisions to be made, the interactive format will fit.

And I’ve explored hostage thrillers, I’ve done sci-fi thriller, I’ve done a fantasy thriller, I’ve done romcom. So I’d love to explore comedy a bit more. And I’d also really love to explore a really pure horror, horror supernatural, or creature feature or that kind of thing as well.

GreggWMorris: Okay. So you’re wrapped up in this project right now, but you’re part of a production company. So what else is on the back burner?

Director Paul Raschid: So at the moment, well, we’re looking to try and shoot another project this year around August, which should be an interactive suspense thriller. I’ve also got an interactive comedy that I’ve just written the first draft for. So, like I said, I just want to try and have as much of a slate of different genres and different stories that I can tell.

So, yeah, once the gallery cinema release next week passes by, we’ll probably turn our attentions to making the next one, which is going to be a really cool suspense thriller.

An interesting thing because again, with interactive, you are writing so many different story branches and you’ve got 18 different endings, and when someone’s watching it, sometimes you are like, Ooh, I hope they get this ending, or I hope they get that ending.

Some endings are a little bit more action packed than the others. Some are a little bit more emotionally driven. So yeah, it’s a strange one. I guess there is a way, a path and a version of an ending that I prefer a little bit more than the others.

But I think they’re all in there for a reason. I like to think they all have a certain impact. They all say different things. Some of them you’ve say it’s a happy ending, it’s an upending and you get out alive and you know, kill your captor and it’s all tickety boo.

Another one, you get killed but I think that I enjoy all of them. I think they all have a purpose. They all have a storied purpose there. But yeah, I would say there are maybe a couple of endings that I favor more than the other ones than I would. But I think, yeah, that’s only natural I think.

GreggWMorris: Okay. So one of the things with movies with me is that this sounds really addictive because sometimes, and this applies to your movie, to yours absolutely. You got to see it three or four times. Yeah, well you already said there like 18 different ways.

Director Paul Raschid: Yeah.

GreggWMorris: So it becomes very addictive, which for me is, well, for someone like me a really good film I want to see more than once because it depends on the mood that I am, who I’m with, and what I missed, or what I thought I’d missed. And for me, this is very exciting because many in the audience will want to see this more than once. {JESUS CHRIST SUPER STAR (1973) I saw about 60 times when I was living in Portugal and playing basketball for the Sporting Clube de Portugal in Lisbon. I’ve seen several other movies at least 10-15 times back in the day when movies had to be seen in theaters and someone like me saw them again and again well before they showed up on cable.}

Director Paul Raschid: Yeah, absolutely. That’s what we hope. And I think that’s where the gaming element comes into it, that you want people to have that completionist mindset, that they want to see all the endings and they want to see if a character could die in one reality, or that character could die, or you get out live and save that person, or maybe they want to play it through one time and everybody dies, they want to watch the world burn.

So I think you really want to try and tap into that element of that people want to just see all the different permutations and the consequences of their decisions basically.

GreggWMorris: Okay, so that’s really fascinating. To me it’s really fascinating.

Director Paul Raschid: Yeah, likewise.

Link to Part 1

Gregg W. Morris can be reached at gregghc@comcast.net, profgreggwmorris@gmail.com