Local scriptwriter Raoul Dyssell's screenplay PreZident, has made it to the finals of the 2017 Slamdance Screenplay Competition. Co-written by Allan Choi, PreZident is set in a post-apocalyptic Cape Town. By Abhinanda Data
"Since it was going to be a zombie film, we brainstormed about how to make it original and relevant by focusing on social issues facing humanity today. We also wanted to tell a global story anyone could relate to. It was great setting it in Cape Town, because it's never really been utilised in the context of a futuristic blockbuster setting," Dyssell said.
The pair are among 12 finalists in the annual competition and Dyssell is excited to travel to Los Angeles, where the winners will be announced on October 13 at an awards ceremony hosted by the Writers Guild of America.
Dyssell said the script had a distinctive theme that could make it a winner. "The fact that it justifies itself as a new entry into the zombie canon and that its setting is so unique gives PreZident an edge."
With such a prestigious nomination under their belts, the pair are looking forward to working on their next projects. Dyssell is working with Cape Town producer and friend Nicki Priem of Mad Little Badger productions on getting his next film, Money Man, off the ground and produced by next year.
Meanwhile, Dyssell and Choi are busy toying with new story ideas, with plans to delve deeper into the zombie universe.
"Recently, we've been jotting down ideas for a prequel and sequel to PreZident. The world we created is so vast that there's so much opportunity for more awesome stories to be told within it," Dyssell said.
There have been a lot of heartbreaks, plenty of rejections and discouraging words along the way. Of all the scripts, however, Choi said PreZident had been the most fun to write.
"It was the perfect project for Raoul and me to vent our frustration with corrupt lawmakers and a social system designed to fool and manipulate the general public. I knew PreZident was the best work we had done, but all the rejections and disappointments thus far had me giving up hope that PreZident would get any recognition any time soon," Choi said.
Despite the initial struggle, PreZident is being recognised for its brilliance and, while not being overly confident, they are excited about this particular achievement.
"Allan and I are very happy that our work is being validated by the Slamdance Screenplay Competition. I'm sure the other finalists have written brilliant scripts as well, and I can't wait to meet all of them," Dyssell said.