Chelsea Grant is known for her award-winning role in the big budget short film Titiro, which she wrote, directed, produced and starred in. Now she has a feature film deal in place and is working with the writers of Pompeii and Batman! She is also working on a new short film for awareness to a subject no one likes to discuss! I sit down and speak to her on her achievements, her goals and her bright future.
How are you?
I’m really good, thanks for chatting to me!
My pleasure, so tell me about the feature version of your award winning Titiro? It’s a long time coming?
So I won my awards in 2016 and I really had to sit and think about what I wanted to do. I started to prepare a feature version of it and that took a good 9 months to write. I then started pitching and got my first investors interested in 2018. Its my first feature film that I am producing so I’m learning a lot. Mainly that it takes a long time to get things done. A lot goes into it.
Whats the feature film about? When can we watch it?
Currently im in rewrites with Janet & Lee Bachler who wrote Pompeii and Batman, we will be out of rewrites next month. We then hit up directors which will take a couple of month to secure. You know, they have to have time to read it. Get a feel and taste for it. It’s a patience game.
And the genre?
Oh yeah, its about the Maori gods of NZ, in a time when gods still roamed the earth. The tribes are warring and a white man must become a warrior and integrate with the tribe of Titiro in order to win her back from the gods of war. Titiro is a goddess and she will be the one to bring peace among the lands.
You wrote that?
Yeah, I did. I always get told I don’t really look like a “writer” whatever that means. I guess to be a writer people think you need glasses and bad fashion sense. Not the case! All my writing friends are uber cool. Really creative and free individuals. I wrote the feature version and Janet & Lee are helping me smooth it out. They are incredibly experienced and uber talented! I’m saying uber a lot today…
What have you learnt during this process?
Wow, so much. Ive developed my patience, my calm, my inner peace. Ive learnt how to deal with rejection and understanding that no doesn’t mean its over, it just means its not the right path. But there are millions of paths that all lead to the same successful goal. If its worth having it wont come easy.
Oh yeah. I made heaps of rookie errors, but hey that’s life. I just grew from it. So guess I don’t really even regret my regrets? Do men count? Lol.
And the short film you are now in development on? Urge. What’s that about?
I am an advocate for children of sexual assault. I stand up for them. And I urge others to do the same. We cannot end child suffering if we don’t put our selfishness (for our own first world problems) to the side and really do something for these kids. That starts with making it a conversation. The topic of pedophilia. Its gross and no one wants to talk about it. But guess what, we need to. There is a way forward if we group together and discuss this. Make it more of a topic of conversation.
So, you think society is selfish to the suffering of others?
100% society as a whole is selfish to others in need or suffering. And look, most of the time they are just so concerned with their day to day existence and it never crosses their path. Fine. But they need to become more involved. There’s more to life than wearing a Gucci belt to your next lunch date. I like a good night out or a nice outfit but I also think its essential to the human experience to give 10% of your income to those in need (animals, charities, causes, the homeless guy down the road, the poor family next door who cant afford to send their child to school) and to be an advocate for those who aren’t able to stand up for themselves. People can be so self-obsessed and its shocking.
What was the process to writing Urge?
I did a lot of research over the last year. It was pretty disturbing, pretty heart-breaking. So many children have suffered and are suffering. Some are so incredibly helpless. They are just infants and are being raped. I cried a lot. I can’t believe this shit exists! Awful. Its demonic. I read a lot of papers on studies done by neuroscientists, psychologists, psychiatrists on pedophiles and what they believe is the cause/cure etc. I needed to see both sides.
That sounds like a lot to shoot?
The short film will only allude to something sinister going on. But the screenplay has a really good twist in it. We will enter it into the mainstream festivals and then make a feature version of it.
I cant wait to watch it. Good for you. Where did this passion come from?
To be an advocate for children came from their helplessness. Its not fair. I was really blessed in my childhood. I had grandparents who were amazing people, they worked hard at their own businesses and gave back. My mum too. I guess that developed something in me where I want to give back but also how is it fair that I got to grow up privileged and safe and some children are used as sex toys for their own family?! It makes me mad. But I want to try and channel that anger into making a difference, bringing awareness and making change. That comes with starting a conversation. Getting it out there. On TVs and in film. People need to speak about this to bring about change. Ignoring it only ensures more children are hurt.
Great, we will look out for it! Any last words before we wrap up?
I’m on chels_life for Instagram if you want to keep up to date with the progress of the films. And to young film makers who cant catch a break, who have been held down for their gender or ethnicity or told no 1000 times…just keep going. It takes longer than you’d ever think. And you can do it. Everyone was no one, until they became someone.