The AACTA Reg Grundy Award asks you to pitch your original, unscripted television idea for the chance to receive a $20,000 cash prize and $30,000 in development funds.
We chatted to previous recipient Jason Chong about the application process for his winning idea Stealing Second. Read on to see what he had to say about the award.
As The Reg Grundy Award is back for its third year, we wanted to talk a bit about your experience with it. So, what was the application process like?
It's actually really kind of easy. I registered two years ago with an idea and then last year they contacted me and said, ‘we really liked your ideas so if you want to reapply for them, we're kind of trying to go to more that format of game show-y style thing’. So they strongly encouraged me to apply again.
I applied again and then got through to a top ten and I think a top five and then we have to do a big pitch for a day and at the end of that they went away for an excruciating 20 minutes or so and had a chat before popping back in. So that was stressful, but it was quite a fun process.
How did you find pitching to the judges?
Really good. After I think we got to the top five, we had a zoom call with each of the five judges. They went through and said ‘maybe change this, maybe change this, and people are going to ask you about that’, so you have an answer for these things. They were really generous right from the outset about what they thought and then how we could improve it. So by the time we actually had to pitch to them, we already had a bit of time with them all.
I do remember sitting and watching... I had to pitch last and I was watching it when everyone else was pitching, going, oh, that's really good idea. Oh no, that's a really good show, and so I didn't actually think I had much chance of winning!
What happened with the idea that you pitched?
In the last year, there's some more consultation with judges, I've shot a pilot and I'm editing it now, plus a sizzle reel, and trying to get all those things in order to hopefully pitch it to market pretty soon. Either to a bigger production company to help me develop it further or straight to a broadcaster. But I think I'd rather go down the production company line to get more people on board to make it even better.
That's exciting. Do you think it was a worthwhile process?
It certainly gave me the biggest budget I've ever had to work with, and I finally got to pay all these people that I've been working with. So that was really nice to actually be able to say thank you to all the people, not just for this project, but for all the other projects that we we've worked on together.
It's been a really good learning process especially because I’m in Adelaide and there's just not that industry here of daily game shows or those kind of ideas. All that stuff has gone to Sydney and Melbourne. So, it's been really nice to at least have the support of AACTA and the judges to say, this is a good idea, we think you should develop it further, and then giving me some time and obviously cash to actually be able to put into it. I really like the idea still and I think it could be something really fun, so I’m hoping other people think so as well.
Do you think that the competition makes it easier for people like yourself who aren't based in East coast cities? Yeah, I mean it was all done on zoom and when I got down to the final five, I was going away for a week, so I was actually able to chat with them as if we're in the same room.
I'm not sure the next step if something was actually being produced. If that's a chance I'd love it to be produced in Adelaide but realistically it may or may not be able to depending on who says yes. But certainly the development and the pitching and application process, it has all been really encouraging and they've been very supportive of people from outside of Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.
Finally, do you have any tips for people applying this year?
Ohh, I haven't been asked that yet. I think just test it, so I mean, I did this after I won, but I spent all summer getting friends together and playing the game and finding out how to break it and fix it. So now I feel like I know the game inside out. That would be helpful to do at any point, but the earlier you can do that the more that would certainly help.
I think one of the most helpful tips is not something that you can do, but just know that everyone's there wanting you to succeed. I found everyone to be super generous with their knowledge, time, and advice, and I feel like everyone genuinely wants you to do well. When you have to pitch sometimes it's a really nerve-wracking process, and you can stress yourself out thinking they just want me to fail. But really, I've been delighted with how much people have been encouraging, which is lovely. In terms of that advice, if you get stage fright, know that everyone's on your side and everyone is hoping you do well.