Producer Carina Chavda will tell you that making a film is a result of having talented and skilled professionals as part of your team; making a great film is the product of this AND building relationships throughout your career. Particularly for a producer, steering a film and finding the best people for a particular project means being keenly aware of what they can bring to the process for optimal results. Very Grave Robbers is a 2018 film produced by Chavda which won a host of awards including the Audience Award, Best of Los Angeles, Grand Champion Audience Award, and Best Ensemble cast (48-hour film project). Additionally, this film received a number of nominations at the Austin Comedy Film Festival (2018), and was screened at the prestigious Massachusetts Independent Film Festival. Its success is due in large part to the equal parts expertise and intuition (honed through experience) of Carina.
Keeping an eye out for those she would like to work with has always been part of Carina’s approach. When she was attending the screening of her film I See You, on which she served as producer (with writer-director Manjari Makijany, Academy-Award nominee Aaron Glascock, and BAFTA winning composer Marius De Vries), she met director/writer Joe Boothe. The two exchanged mutual admiration for their films appearing at Cannes that year and expressed the hope of working together. Within a matter of months, a film idea materialized for this occurance and Boothe’s writing partner (and wife) Alexa Alemanni joined. The product of this collaboration, [Very Grave Robbers] is suspenseful, comedic, and exceptional in its dialogue. While the cast is exceptional, it comes as no surprise that the writers are the vehicle which fuels this tale.
As with many great films, Very Grave Robbers is much more about human nature and its shortcomings than simply the events that unfold throughout the story. Andrew and Peter are burglars by trade. They break into a house but are surprised when they are interrupted by many people arriving during mid-heist. The group is an extended family which is returning from the funeral of their grandmother. Assessing the best way to make an exit unnoticed, the two thieves decide to borrow some clothes from the closet and blend in with the mourners. As they attempt to make a casual departure, Andrew comforts a comely family member and feels a connection. Both he and Peter begin to imbibe copious amount of alcohol and end up falling asleep in the same residence they were attempting to burgle. Later that day they begin to regret their actions and embark on a path that does not end well for them.
Very Grave Robbers screened at the Massachusetts Independent Film Festival to an exuberant audience. Chavda attended the showing and admits to being stunned by the audiences overwhelmingly positive reaction. She relates, “You always try to make the best film possible. At some point, you are so deep inside the process that you just naturally lose some perspective. Our production schedule was extremely limited and I was taking care of the numerous obstacles that every producer has to overcome. When our DP injured his hand before the shoot, I had to figure something out. When we needed to juggle multiple shoots, I had to make sure everything was seamless and smooth. When you are immersed in that, you sometimes forget just how amazing the work of those around you and the film itself actually is. I have to thank that crowd at the Massachusetts Independent Film Festival for shaking me back into reality. It was great to be there with them and see their excitement.” Chavda’s fellow filmmakers showed her some appreciation, seasoned with a bit of humor, taking a cardboard cut-out of her along to the Los Angeles premier of Very Grave Robbers when her schedule prohibited her attendance. Even if only there in spirit, LA praised Chavda and the film similarly.