American audiences will receive a taste of the Australian university experience – and a Bundanoon woman helped make it happen.
Donna Andrews is one of the people behind Sticky Pictures, the production company making the comedy Ronny Chieng: International Student a reality.
She came across the show a few years ago when Ronny, and fellow writer Declan Fay, showed her their pilot script. She helped them prepare it for the ABC’s and Screen Australia’s Comedy Showroom, where it received a great response from the audience.
As an executive producer of the show, she has been integral in making the pilot turn into a fully-fledged comedy series. “If you think of a television show as a company, the producer runs the company,” Donna said.
“So you find the content and develop it with the writers until it is ready to be pitched to broadcasters and financiers. Then you pull together the team, hire the director, help with casting – you’re across the whole process, which can take years.
“Once filming is finished, you’re also on board with post-production, such as the editing and adding music to the vision.”
Donna knocked on doors across America until she reached Comedy Central, who agreed to also broadcast the series.
Ronny Chieng: International Student is currently filming at Melbourne University. Donna said the show captured a unique Australian experience.
“It’s inspired by Ronny’s own experiences, as he came from Malaysia to Melbourne Uni to study law – although our show is a heightened version of those events,” she said.
“We don’t have many shows set in university in Australia, especially with a focus on international students, and it’s exciting that we are able to use the campus grounds for shooting.”
Now that filming is underway, Donna said she can take a small sigh of relief. “It’s a really exciting time, as suddenly all the experts are in place and working together,” she said.
“It’s a tight schedule – we’ll shoot at the uni for three weeks before heading to other locations – but it all does come down to a great team and terrific script.”
Ronny said he was keen to share his university experiences with viewers.
“I’m very excited about having the chance to relive my misspent youth at university and righting all my wrongs,” he said. “Like in Quantum Leap or Atonement. But with Asians.”
The six-part series will air on ABC TV and iview in mid-2017, with its US premiere on Comedy Central to follow.