Last week, Super Chill was invited to the New York TV Festival as a finalist in the Samsung Second Screen Storyteller’s Competition. After submitting a pilot and a treatment for the series, the final stage involved pitching in front of a live audience and to a panel of industry judges for a chance to get $300,000 worth of funding from Samsung. That’s obviously a lot of money for anywhere in the world, but in Portland that would basically make us millionaires. Art vouchers galore. We could buy all the paintings from every coffee shop wall in the city, pre-order a lifetime supply of Stumptown Coffee and Bunk Sandwiches, and still have money in the bank for weekly lapdances at Sassy’s.
Of course, we didn’t say any of that in the pitch. If we won we actually would’ve spent the money on the production of a second seeason. The first season of Super Chill was made for virtually nothing due to the generosity of the crew. It would have been great to have made this a paid job for all involved. Plus also have some money left over for Greg and Vin’s ‘wardrobe’.
To cut a long story short, we didn’t win. The panel instead went with a visually impressive production called ‘D-Tec’. There could have been a number of reasons why we didn’t get the money. Maybe it was because I told the Vice-President of Samsung that my business card was thicker than his. Maybe it was because our Editor Rodrigo was chewing gum in the photo shoot and had to be asked to spit it out. Or, maybe it was because the winner just made more impressive use of the technology that Samsung was trying to sell. Either way, from the style and tone of our production, all the way through to our pitch, it was clear we were the Underdogs.
But, Super Chill existed long before this competition, and it will continue to exist a long time after it. Both Vin and I created the series with an open mind and an open heart, and it has therefore become something that means a lot to both of us. I was therefore proud that, rather than change our approach in order to impress the judges, we stood up there and spoke honestly and passionately. Instead of emphasising the technology, we focussed on the heart of the show. We told them why we thought Super Chill was different than anything else around, and why we were excited about taking it to the next level. Ultimately, we want Super Chill to be a lot more than just a TV Show that people watch and then forget about.
And because of all this, and because we stayed true to our vision, when they announced the winner, I quickly came round to the opinion that it wasn’t meant to be.
Vin’s mantra is always “everything happens for a reason”, and I believe that if you follow your heart and remain open to possibilities that are around every corner then good things will come. Sometimes this is obvious and other times not so, but you just have to trust in the Universe. Our whole week in New York seemed a testament to that idea. Everywhere we looked there were signs. The Graffiti that we saw, Shops that we passed, Music that we heard, and People we met. At one point we found an old notebook that Vin kept when he was in New York years before. We flicked through the blank pages and came to a page with some of Vin’s handwriting on it. It read, “Everything Happens For A Reason. We Will Get There Together”. This blew our minds.
As we told the judges in our pitch, it is this sense that everything’s connected that we’d like to explore in Super Chill, and it was great to feel like we were living that experience this week in New York. Sometimes you aren’t sure of the significance of events until much later. But I’m sure we’ll look back on this week and say “It was a good thing we didn’t win”.
On the plane over to the US, I watched a moving Oscar-winning documentary about the Manassas High School Football Team who have never reached the playoffs. It’s called ‘Undefeated’ and the documentary charts a season when their coach vows to take them there. I was in tears whilst I watched this story of a team of troubled kids brought together by sport (I was also glad I chose to watch it rather than Kung Fu Panda 2). What stayed with me most was a quote, attributed to Raymond Moley, that their coach kept returning to,
“The most vital test of a man’s character is not how he behaves after success, but how he sustains defeat.”
It was this which I reminded our team of when we found out we hadn’t won, and it is this that means that rather than disappointed, I am excited to see where we take our show next.
Here’s some photos of some of the things that we did and the signs we saw in New York City…