Curiosity is one of the main characteristics of a filmmaker. Carina Chavda was driven by it when offered the opportunity to produce a film about Dr. Phillip A. Sharp whose work in RNA has effected the entire planet. Ms. Chavda confirms, “Uncommon Productions Executive Producer Maura McCarthy contacted me about the film just after the world was starting to become normal again after an almost two-year period of the Covid-19 pandemic. The only reason there was some semblance of normalcy was because of the Covid vaccines which came out in record time. I was intrigued by the topic of this film because I knew most of the people around the world had just taken an MRNA vaccine, and this was the first time we were hearing the term. I was curious about how the vaccine came about and what this breakthrough in vaccine and therapies was all about. As I learned more, I knew the rest of the world would want to know too.” This film project currently titled Unlocking RNA (w/t) is still under production but is certain to illuminate the work of one of the most brilliant minds to impact modern life on a global scale. Directed by Award Winning filmmaker Bill Haney (Gabriel Prize, Silver Hugo, Amnesty International Award) with cinematography by Claudia Raschke Robinson (whose credits include the Oscar Award–nominated film RBG and the Primetime Emmy Award–winning TV series American Masters), Unlocking RNA is sure to be captivating and informative at the highest level.
Her affinity for documentary filmmaking has taken Carina to many diverse and challenging locations across the planet. While rural Kentucky was not particularly dangerous (Chavda travelled to the militarized war zone of Srinagar, Kashmir to film 2020’s Saving Saffron), this southern state in America was not without its challenges. Navigating a crew and expensive equipment through unmaintained rural roads and amongst inclimate weather requires extraordinary planning and the ability to pivot at a moment’s notice. Torrential rains, intermittent internet access, and unreliable power sources are sizable impediments to keeping a production on schedule and within budget. Like her fellow filmmakers, it’s Carina’s desire to create films which inspire that energizes her during challenging moments. She imparts, “I truly believe there aren’t enough documentaries about science and I feel the more there is, the more it will encourage children to get into the sciences. The most interesting part about interviewing a scientist is they are so humble, so focused on the science, and on the mission of creating drugs to save lives. That it is a refreshing change from what we see with other famous people who are given the spotlight. I also feel that these scientists are the true heroes of our time. They are revolutionizing the way we understand our bodies and treat human diseases.”
Specifically, Carina refers to Dr. Sharp’s work which is featured in Unlocking RNA. This prominent scientist who has furthered the field of molecular biology and genetics grew up on a tobacco farm in rural Kentucky. Recipient of a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (shared with Richard J. Roberts), Sharp’s work in RNA is essential to the progress made in developing vaccines, including those used to combat Covid-19. Unlocking RNA presents Dr. Sharp’s work, and those like him, with the reverence it deserves. The creation of this film provides important context. The difference between what we know and what is forgotten is in the telling of these tales. The universally experienced moment of the Covid-19 pandemic must be recalled for not only the hardships and loss it incurred but also for the invention and discipline which allowed the world to resume again. Unlocking RNA will be released Summer 2024.