I might have mentioned a few times in the past on this blog that I used to work as the Online Producer for Virgin Media Shorts. And although the curtains closed on the competition for the final time back in November 2013 it seems its legacy is still alive and strong if the pilot is anything to go by…
The best part of my job was meeting so many amazingly talented young filmmakers and watching hours upon hours of expertly-crafted, finely tuned 2-minute movies. I still love to hear to what these writers, directors, producers and editors are up to now, so when Chris Chung – one of the 2013 Shorts finalists – tweeted me last month to tell me about the trailer for his new sitcom pilot, Wok, I was pretty excited.
For the last two years Chris and his ‘partner in crime’ Bruce Chong have been developing the concept for the series. Influenced by the likes of Phone Shop, Modern Family and Desmond’s, Wok is set in a traditional, family-run Chinese takeaway in Hackney – and is all loosely based on Bruce’s own life and upbringing – who also wrote the pilot and plays one of the leads. The pilot follows the eccentric Li family as they run their restaurant, and their eldest son, Bruce, who’s just been offered a place at university.
Chris and Bruce first worked together on the high-octane, very funny Virgin Media Shorts-nominated comedy, Handuken back in the summer of 2013. And thanks to Chris’s strong storytelling ability, Bruce’s unique life story and their combined love of situation comedy, TV and movies, the idea for Wok was born.
Director Chris is confident they’ve managed to capture the essence of life behind the counter of an authentic takeaway – filmed on location in East London. He feels it’s important for more culturally diverse shows to be given a chance and break out and make it on mainstream television – something he hopes Wok will champion.
The concept was a passion project for the pair, with the 20-minute pilot episode being totally self-funded, and favours being called in from friends and family. Their aim with Wok is to get a TV series made and encourage more cultural diversity in UK entertainment. The pilot will be showcased at a Gala Screening at Picturehouse Central soon which will hopefully lead to the show being fully realised and commissioned. I for one will be there cheering it on, probably telling anyone who will listen all about the ‘lasting legacy of Virgin Media Shorts’.
Wait a minute, his name is Bruce Li! I wonder if this was a coincidence.