Interview: Winners of STORYHIVE's contest tell filmmakers how they won $10,000

Sep 1 2017, 5:27 am

If you think you have what it takes to be the next big filmmaker then we’ve got good news.

STORYHIVE is giving you the chance to win a $10,000 grant to produce your own web series and have it aired on TV too.

The local funder is calling on all content creators in BC and Alberta to enter the contest by submitting a 60-second pitch for a pilot episode you’d like to make. You can apply on STORYHIVE’s website right now, and remember to get your pitch in soon as the contest closing date is September 11.

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We sat down with one of the winning teams of last year’s Web Series Edition of STORYHIVE and the creators of Welcome to Surreya web series based south of the Fraser. Kashif Pasta and Shyam Valera gave us their advice for getting $10,000 to make their dream project happen.

What do you think it was that made your series stand out?

We believe there were two main things. First, how relatable the story and characters are. We spent a tremendous amount of time discussing these. We had multiple discussions with friends and family on what it feels like to leave home and come back, what are the pressures of being a South Asian female at home and at work, and what is it really like living in Surrey. It was talking to them that grounded our story to something people would relate to. Credit also should go to our lead actress, Suneet Maan, as well as our other actors, including Amanda Wong. All of whom brought their characters to life. We are also extremely grateful to have Manoj Sood, who starred in the Canadian sitcom Little Mosque on the Prairie, play Sunil, Suneet’s dad. He brought so much charisma and charm to the role creating an amazing dynamic between himself and Suneet.

The other major component that sets Welcome to Surrey apart was our incredible and diverse crew. Each person brought so much to the table. We thought it would be difficult trying to explain South Asian culture to a bunch of non-South Asian crew but because almost all come of them came from different backgrounds, they knew how to think about showing a culture on screen. This, mixed with their film experience, took the series to a whole new level.

How has STORYHIVE’s competition changed your filmmaking career?

STORYHIVE is an amazing program, especially for those who are trying to get their first steps into the film industry. For us, we didn’t have the privilege of going to film school so everything was almost new. How to manage a large crew, how to schedule days, what equipment do we need? These were all questions most film students would know how to answer but because of STORYHIVE, we had the resources to find an amazing crew who knew exactly what they were doing.

STORYHIVE jumpstarted our filmmaking careers for sure. By pushing us to be authentic in our story, making sure we had the resources to film everything we wanted and giving us their feedback through post, we not only had the chance to learn firsthand what it takes to create a series/film but are better filmmakers because of them. Most importantly, we have a final product that we are incredibly proud of and can put on our resumes for future work.

What would you say to candidates who are thinking of applying for this year’s STORYHIVE’s Web Series Edition?

DO IT! If there is an idea you thought of years ago or a story you wish you could share, apply now. Don’t be afraid of applying because you aren’t sure how to make a film or write a proper script. There’s a huge group of filmmakers that are ready to help you. Best of all, it’s free to apply! It’s a great chance for people to get their first taste at filmmaking and experienced filmmakers to try something new. We cannot recommend this program enough.

Do you have any tips for this year’s applicants?

Be authentic and real to yourself. Don’t be afraid of having specific stories. The more real you make it, the more people will be able to relate. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the process.

So what are you waiting for? Pitch your pilot today and apply for this grant by September 11 to kickstart your career in the film industry.

STORYHIVE offers production grants and distribution opportunities for filmmakers, musicians, storytellers and creators in BC and Alberta. They tell stories, create art, and make careers happen. Learn more at

For more information, check out STORYHIVE’s FAQ online. To get the latest updates and to stay in the know visit STORYHIVE on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

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