We spoke to writer/producer Ravi Chand about his experience in the recent Greenlight pitching lab, Project Greenlight. Ravi’s heartfelt documentary-in-development ‘Five Year Grandma’ received the top vote from the participating ‘wise crowd’.
I.C.E: Tell us about ‘Five Year Grandma’, what is your one line pitch for the project?
Ravi Chand: Five Year Grandma, is a feature documentary about how I completely abandoned my cultural identity after my mum died a car accident, when her car was hit by speeding van a week from my 12th birthday; only to realise 24 years later what I’d truly sacrificed when I found that my maternal Grandma who I thought had passed away, was still alive and waiting for me in the same house in Fiji.
I.C.E: What was the experience like pitching the project to the ‘wise crowd’ at the Greenlight pitching labs?
RC: I’m very comfortable pitching but doing it through Zoom to a “wise crowd” is a very different experience. The first thing to get used to is seeing your face take up the entire screen while you pitch and second it’s very hard to judge the room because you can’t see anyone and everyone is muted.
So all I could really do was speak from the heart. It’s about my Mum, Grandma, identity, racism and loss. To hopefully in three minutes bring people into my world and let them connect with my story.
I.C.E: Why do you think it’s important to develop skills in pitching?
RC: Pitching forces you to articulate what resonates and connects most about your story.
There is so much research and work over the past several years I’ve been doing with racism, identity and assimilation that has filtered into the mainstream (well as best it can) because of the recent Black Lives Matter events. This is extraordinarily important for me and this work features heavily in Five Year Grandma. However, I couldn’t discuss this in great detail because while it informs character and story, it is not the story.
Pitching is also about putting yourself forward. If you’re not authentic, not prepared or pushy (like a used car salesperson) people will think you’re going to be hard to work with.
I.C.E: What stage is the project at now? What is next for you and the project?
RC: The story is there. The pathway to audience is there because in just a few months the Five Year Grandma pitch video exceeded 700 shares, 330,000 views and 1600 likes/ reactions on Facebook. Its content about racism, identity and assimilation is very relevant to the discussions currently happening around Black Lives Matter, even though for me as a person of colour, the content is (and will be) a constant in my life.
Thanks to Film Victoria sending me to AIDC, I received great interest from broadcasters and distributors. I’m producing / writing with Producer Diana Fisk working alongside me as Producer and Tony Briggs as Co-Producer. Diana and Tony are helping me with the screen bodies for development funding.
It began as a web series pitch but so many people in the industry have said it should be a feature documentary (and they’re right). So the next stage is to flesh out a full treatment for a feature documentary and cut a trailer that looks like the final product.
As for myself, I’ve been an emerging producer and writer for 10 years now. In that time I’ve been working on five other of my own projects of my own that include several TV series and a feature film. I’ve also been accepted onto the Film Victoria Talent Attachment register so hopefully that leads to further experience. Coming through the Screen Australia, AFTRS and Film Victoria Talent Camp opened the door to a lot of initiatives I’ve learnt so much from. I’m very grateful to everyone who has been (and continues to be) so generous with their support.
You can find out more about Ravi Chand at www.warriortribefilms.com/ravi-chand
You can view the Five Year Grandma pitch video on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/FiveYearGrandma/videos/935465616852793
The Greenlight Network was developed by Dr David Court and presented as part of I.C.E.’s Produce Perfect 2020 program in partnership with Compton School and Diversity Arts Australia. I.C.E. is supported by Create NSW and Major Government Partner Screen Australia.”