Five Blind Dates may be Australia’s first feature film produced locally by Prime Video but it also marks the first project that co-creators Shuang Hu (The Family Law) and actor and comedian Nathan Ramos-Park (As We Babble On) have ever worked on together, ironically, beginning as a “professional blind date”.
Speaking to Mediaweek ahead of the February 13 launch, Hu admitted that she had been “looking for a writer to co-write with”, turning to another writer-friend, who introduced her to Ramos-Park.
“So, I read Nathan’s scripts and we met up at a Starbucks down the street,” she said, before adding that they “just hit it off straight away.”
“He was so fun to work with and it was the most fun writing experience,” she said. “So therapeutic.”
The film follows twenty-something Lia (Hu) who is faced with her failing traditional Chinese tea shop inherited from her beloved grandma, and the prospect of attending her younger sister’s impending wedding single and alone. She is then reluctantly gifted with a prophecy – the fate of her shop and her love life are intertwined, with the secret lying in one of her next five dates. However, this was not always the plan.
When Hu went to pitch her rom-com to Ramos-Park — one she had hoped Chris Hemsworth would star in — he told her: “This is great, but what if we make a movie that no one else can act in and no one else but you can do?”
They then began to “mine” her life story for ideas”, including her move to LA (which became a move from Townsville to Sydney), pressure from her parents to get married and an ultimatum, which she gave herself if she didn’t succeed in Tinseltown.
Their pitch to Prime Video was unconventional
When it came time to pitch the project to Prime Video, the duo had only a character sheet to present — with the initial story very different to the finished product.
“There were seven people on the call plus me and Nathan,” she said. “The rest [of the pitch] was verbal. It was like a play. Like a soliloquy or a monologue and me and Nathan just took turns telling the story.”
By the end of their pitch, everyone was “crying”.
“I think it also helped that there were six women in the room,” Hu said. “They just really related to the story of Lia struggling to chase her dream and being put down.
“All of the execs related to this character, this woman who is trying to find love, but trying to balance her career.”
Hu created the film for an under-represented community
For Hu, creating this film was for the “community who aren’t necessarily always portrayed on Australian screens”, a premise which was one of the “big calling cards”.
“We thought, we need this big beautiful ensemble cast to create as many opportunities as we can for all the people,” she said. “That’s why we needed five good-looking Asian men.
“And with the mum and the sister, we wanted to give every opportunity we could through these other characters, for them to shine as well. Because when else are they gonna have the chance to do it?”
Stream Five Blind Dates exclusively on Prime Video from February 13.