Documentary Film Makers Take the 'Chance of a Lifetime'

Pivot’s new competitive reality show, 'Chance of a Lifetime,' pits young filmmakers against one another for a good cause.
Feb 14, 2014·
Eve Epstein is the VP of Programming at TakePart

If the term "competitive reality show" conjures images of frantic people gagging down giant insects or submitting to any number of other draconian humiliations, prepare yourself for a paradigm shift.

Chance of a Lifetime, a new show on TakePart’s sibling network, Pivot, aims to turn the genre on its head. The show, which premieres Saturday, Feb. 15, at 10 a.m. ET, features groups of young, idealistic filmmakers from around the globe who come together to compete—not for a sexy spouse or a million dollars but for the honor of presenting their finished film to the U.N. in the hopes of creating meaningful, lasting change.

The show is the brainchild of veteran film producer Ashok Amritraj, who partnered with the U.N. to devise the format. “When I came up with the idea of bringing these documentary filmmakers together from a few diverse cultures—the Middle East, Singapore, and India—it felt like the right idea and the right sort of tone,” he said. Particularly, he added, for Pivot and Participant, whose mission of social change through compelling storytelling so closely aligned with the goals of the show.

The directors were divided into teams of three and sent to Chennai, India, to concept, shoot, and postproduce their short films, each of which addresses an issue—malaria, universal education, HIV/AIDS, child mortality, poverty, and hunger—related to the United Nations' core initiative to improve the lives of “Every Woman, Every Child”—malaria, universal education, HIV/AIDS, child mortality, poverty, and hunger.

Yet while the goals of the program are lofty, Amritraj maintains that the show itself has all the nail-biting drama of a true reality show, thanks to the obstacles, time constraints, and cultural differences faced by the team members. “There isn’t any, um, crazy backstabbing stuff,” he laughs. “That’s not the kind of show this is, but it is a pressure-cooker atmosphere.”

In the end, Amritraj’s goal for American audiences is twofold: He hopes people will be entertained, and that they will come to believe that real change is possible. “I wanted kids in America to realize that [there are] youngsters all over the world who have the same thoughts about solving these issues, whether you’re Arab or Chinese or American,” he says. “One shouldn’t think of it as being so large an issue that you can’t make a difference.”

Chance of a Lifetime will premiere as a marathon on February 15 and 16 at 10AM ET, only on pivot.

Click here to see if Pivot is available in your area, or request it now.