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Meet Our 2023 Moonshot Pilot Accelerator Fellows: Chen Gu

In this Q&A, Chen Gu discusses how the Moonshot Pilot Accelerator helped them step outside their comfort zone.


2023 Moonshot Pilot Accelerator Fellow Chen Gu

Applications for our 2024 Moonshot Pilot Accelerator are open through the April 14 final deadline, so we are taking this opportunity to shine a spotlight on our past fellows!


Chen Gu was one of the fellows in our 2023 Moonshot Pilot Accelerator (formerly WWFC’s Pilot Accelerator).


Below, learn more about Chen’s experience pitching their project and tips for writers pitching for the first time.


What inspired you to write the pilot script that was selected for the Moonshot Pilot Accelerator?

“Time for Cha,” my half-hour dramedy, is about an unlikely mother-daughter duo living in Monterey Park, a bustling heart of Chinese-American food tradition and innovation. When I moved to LA a few years ago, Monterey Park is where I found a second home. In its grocery stores, boba shops and cream puff joints, where Shanghai meets the palm tree skyline, I found friends, old and new flavors, and a deep sense of belonging. Neighborhoods like these are saving graces for immigrant kids and immigrant-kids-at-heart, where we can pay homage to our roots while growing new identities.


What's something you learned from the accelerator workshops?

I found it incredibly helpful to work on my logline with the help of the other fellows and Katrina and Tracy. Being able to describe your series in one or two sentences is incredibly difficult, and so is pitching a whole world in a limited amount of time. We as writers are asked to step outside our comfort zone and push our work forward in a way we may not be used to, and the accelerator was such a supportive and warm environment to practice and put what we learned into practice.


What was your experience with pitching before this program, and what did you learn from pitching to so many companies? What advice would you give to a writer who's about to do her first pitch?

I had pitched to one production company prior. That opportunity came through Moonshot Initiative as well, through one of their panelists expressing interest in my logline submission during Moonshot’s virtual workshop series.


During the accelerator, I was able to further hone my skills in telling not only the story of my series but of myself in a succinct amount of time.


My biggest tip would be to bring your full self to the meeting and make an intention to genuinely connect with the person you are pitching to. People are people, and people love good stories and they love to be moved. 


How has your career progressed since the accelerator ended?

I have been in full-on writing mode and working on some new stories, one a magical realist exploration that collides the present day with 19th-century Chinese America and the other a short story collection highlighting fissures in technology that the spiritual world peers through. Moonshot continues to extend opportunities as they arise for us former fellows, and I was recently able to meet with an executive through their continued support. 


What would you say to a writer who's thinking of applying to the Moonshot Pilot Accelerator?

Don't hesitate! If you feel confident about your script, do apply. As one Moonshot panelist once said, all you need is one yes.


What's inspiring you these days?

The film “Origin” by Ava DuVernay is a must-see, an incredible examination of the caste system in America and the intersections of oppression here with oppression in other nations and time periods. The film “Farha” is also incredible, a coming-of-age story about a Palestinian girl set during the Nakba. 


ABOUT CHEN GU


Chen Gu is a writer-director born in Chengdu, China, and raised in Dallas, Texas, which probably explains their love of spicy food and sequined fringe. Their stories highlight unconventional families, queer love, and intergenerational grocery lists. Chen was a Sundance/Youtube New Voices fellow and a writer on the Snapchat short form show “Two Sides: Unfaithful,” which was nominated for an NAACP Image award. They recently participated in the Moonshot Pilot Accelerator program, where they pitched their script Time for Cha. Chen is currently working on a podcast featuring Gloria Williams, the longest incarcerated woman in the state of Louisiana, who will talk about her life and loves in her own words. Please check The Unbreakable Queen for updates. Chen believes that representation is not only about bolstering one’s own stories but that of other marginalized voices, and encourage everyone to amplify Palestinian journalists like @wizard_bisan1 and @lama_jamous9 in their freedom struggle.


How to apply to the Moonshot Pilot Accelerator


Apply to the Moonshot Pilot Accelerator by the final deadline of April 14, 2024, at 11:59 p.m. Pacific. You can submit via Coverfly or FilmFreeway.


All of our semi-finalists will have their scripts read by two industry judges: showrunners, TV series creators, high-level producers, and working TV writers. Read their bios here.


Our 6-8 selected fellows will participate in three weeks of virtual workshops, where they’ll get pitch feedback from a development exec, a showrunner, and a speech coach; experience a mock writers’ room; and meet with an agent and an entertainment lawyer. Read about our expert guests here.


Then, during Pitch Week, they’ll have the opportunity to pitch one-on-one to companies including HBO, Netflix, Starz, Amazon Studios/Prime Video, Gersh, Berlanti Productions, Broadway Video, Level Forward, Element Pictures, Irish Cowboy, Freevee, BFD, and more!

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