Meet Paul Raschid, a UK director and screenwriter who focuses on interactive movies that viewers can “play” by influencing the narrative.

Latest game: Five Dates, a brilliantly observed romcom set during early lockdown.

First game you ever worked on: Sci-fi techno-thriller The Complex.

Game you wish you had made:Until Dawn! But I really like the classic Telltale games too.”

Interactive film Five Dates casts you as Vinny, a millennial looking for love.

How it started: With a father in the film industry, Raschid says he “grew up on set” and “fell in love with the craft” of filmmaking. He made his directorial debut with thriller White Chamber, for which actor Shauna Macdonald won a BAFTA Scotland award. This caught the eye of some producers who asked about making an interactive sci-fi film. This would become The Complex. “In my films I was always trying to experiment with structure and multiple timelines,” explains Raschid. “So rewiring my brain to think in those terms – flow charts, diverging branches and stuff like that – was a challenge I really relished.”

Lengthy flow charts are all part of the creative process for Raschid: “I write the script like it’s a choose-your-own-adventure book – but with scenes instead of pages.”

How it’s going: Raschid embarked on Five Dates mid-pandemic after all his other projects were shelved. His inspiration came from dating apps. “We saw that people had started doing video dates, and they all happened through apps… I’d always wanted to do a romcom. Any genre can make for a good interactive movie so long as there are high-stakes decisions to make. A first date is full of snap micro-decisions and those are really high stakes too – especially if you fancy the person.”

Raschid wrote the first draft in two weeks. “We wanted to make it quickly; we didn’t know how long digital dating would stay relevant.”

For suspenseful sci-fi thrills, play Raschid’s first game, The Complex.

The hard bit: It wasn’t straightforward shooting Five Dates in the middle of a lockdown. “The actors had to wire up their own mics, set up their own lights in their rooms – each actor had to do these jobs that normally would be the roles of eight different departments. We sent everyone all this equipment in the post.” Raschid has still never met some of the actors in person.

Raschid (right) makes his gaming directorial debut on the set of The Complex.

The best bit: Raschid loves how much the actors used their own experience to influence the drama. “The cast brought so much of themselves into it. I think that’s what made Five Dates resonate with a lot of people – because it felt naturalistic and real… Taheen Modak, the actor who played Vinny, joked that he would try using some of the lines in his real-life dates. I don’t know if he ever actually did or if it worked!”

The future: Raschid is currently working on a hostage thriller called The Gallery. And keep your eyes peeled for Ten Dates, the post-pandemic sequel. Both are coming soon to the App Store.

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