Kien Luu and Will Ton are the creative team behind ‘Grass Roots’, a script in development for a proposed TV comedy/drama series set in Western Sydney. The project’s development is supported by ICE’s Screen Cultures Program. Barry Gamba, Producer of the Screen Cultures Program, spoke to Kien about the project.
What is ‘Grass Roots about’
‘Grass Roots’ is about what it’s like growing up as an immigrant in Western Sydney (in particular, in the Fairfield, Cabramatta region). It draws on the life-long friendships that are forged within our socio-economic bubble, from the career choices we make and our parent’s expectations, to the excessive partying that inevitably lands some of us in trouble with friends, family or the law.
What did you want to achieve with this story
We tried to create characters that we can all identify with. Growing up watching Australian TV, there were never really any characters or personalities that we felt especially akin to. This lack of any true role models we could identify with left us feeling a little rudderless as young people as we struggled to find our place between two cultures. To fill that void, we turn to our friends as our support network and the loyalties that stem from that are what Grass Roots is all about.
What does the name mean
The name Grass Roots is a play on words, representing both the struggles of our past as well as the family herbal shop that our main character is reluctantly set to inherit – if he can save it from financial ruin caused by what his parents would call his loose and irresponsible ways.
This is your first venture into fiction filmmaking. How are you finding the experience
As a self-taught filmmaker with a background in wedding and corporate video production, I found moving to a narrative-based project an enjoyable challenge as it’s more pre-production intensive and a much more creative process overall.
Why did you want to make a trailer early in the development stage
The reason we wanted to shoot a trailer was so that we could experiment with how our characters translated to the screen. Working with actors to bring our characters to life was definitely a steep learning curve. We learnt that we had to adapt the characters we had in our heads to the actor’s own mannerisms and how they thought the character would react to certain scenarios.