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Bullied throughout his life, Johnny Kershaw finally got the revenge he always envisioned — even if it meant trading part of his soul to do it.

In the new horror film, “EGEST,” executive producer and co-director Zebulun Dinkins takes the audience on a cinematic mystery of “tormented and voided souls.”

Cast and crew joined Dinkins in December at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School for the red carpet premiere of the film that centers on bullying.

In an attempt to tackle other hard issues like abuse and teen suicide, the film takes a new approach to educate youth on the dangers of negative peer pressure.

The movie tells the story of good conquering evil as Kershaw’s friends rescue the disabled teen from the spell he came under during his effort at revenge.

“As the movie title suggests, we want students to eliminate negativity,” Dinkins said. “As with our central character, we want the viewers to realize that whether you are on the giving or receiving end, bullying is never all right.”

The film stars O-W High School drama and theatre students Oshia Small, Wesley Battle, Douglas Fairnot, Emily Ayers, Raekwon Berry, Julian Owens, Ashley Singh and Michael Green and nearly 50 other students, faculty and staff.

Dinkins, an instructional technology facilitator with Orangeburg Consolidated School District Five, collaborated with theatre teacher Angela Williams to showcase “an innovative way to do what has not been done in any school district.”

He said the horror movie is an “edu-taining” way to open up dialogue about different social issues.

“We are mixing education and entertainment,” Dinkins said. “If we want to effectively teach our students lessons that will impact their lives, we have to go beyond the classroom.”

Williams said, “We have big dreams for all of our kids.

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“Our ideas are to educate them in creative ways by making movies and bringing to the forefront real challenges youth are facing.”

Williams said that it is difficult to reach youth using conventional methods.

“They may not watch a documentary,” she said. “They want comic relief and we mixed that with a positive message. The film is a new way we can make a difference.”

Jamein Ballard, president of the O-W Drama and Theatre Club, said “When you perform on stage, it is a way to transform into anything you desire.”

Ballard said the arts offer a great way to express your emotions in a positive way and for some students that are bullied “It’s a great escape. It is an outlet.”

“People that bully are typically those that are afraid to be successful,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to do better.”

Dinkins is proud of the dedication and drive of the students.

“We want all students to be inspired and help motivate them to believe that they can be just as good as the rappers and actors they see and want to emulate on television,” he said. “If you have a dream, live it now.”

Proceeds from DVD sales of the film will benefit the Theatre and Drama Club at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School. Find out more about the production on the “EGEST” Facebook page.

Contact the writer: kdavis@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5552.

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