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August 26, 2008

Behind the Scenes with Shane Corkery - Part 1

Hey people. My name is Shane Corkery, and I am the associate producer on Season 3 of Little Mosque on the Prairie.

I'm writing to you from my new office—a sleek limited edition Fleetwood Terry recreational vehicle, parked outside the post office in Indian Head, Saskatchewan. Not that you know what my old office looked like, but I can definitely say that it was a little nicer than this one, and being in a building and all, it was much better on gas. On the other hand, it doesn't corner nearly as well as this one. I am sharing this six-wheeled, wood-paneled beauty with producer Colin Brunton as we head into production on the Saskatchewan portion of this season of Little Mosque on the Prairie. It's been an exciting couple of weeks as our art department—led by the industrious and artful Brendan Smith—has transformed the lovely town of Indian Head into the even lovelier town of Mercy. After all, no town is complete without a Schnitzel Time!



Up until this point, the local bakery had kept us well stocked with donuts and fritters and cookies—though they decided to start their annual holidays on the very day that principal photography started. I guess they weren't going to let any froufrou TV types mess up their vacation plans. Personally, I say kudos to them for maintaining their integrity in the face of potentially brisk sales. On the down side, the absence of those fritters leaves a deep chasm in our collective heart that will be hard to fill.




Anyways, so here we are on day one. The sun is shining on our brand new Mosque, and we managed to shoot two scenes this morning, right out front. One of them, of course, picks up right where Season 2 left off. You know the scene, right? Where Rayyan tells Amaar that JJ has asked her to marry him and she says... Oh right. Apparently I am not supposed to reveal that part yet! That could have been the end of my blogging career. I better just leave that alone and let the audience find it out for themselves when this season starts, October 1st, 2008 at 8:30 pm on CBC... Canada Lives Here.

Oh, relax. A little corporate shilling never hurt anyone... I am off to lunch now.

August 18, 2008

The Mercy Chronicle: Issue #4

BEHIND THE SCENES

Little Mosque on the Prairie goes 'green'

The environment has been a hot button issue for years. The film and television industry has often been criticized for its lack of environmental concern. Recently, a task force was created called 'Green Screen Toronto' -- a unique partnership arrangement with the collective goal of ensuring the film and television industry has the leading 'Green Screen Protocols' in the creative sector.

During our last week of shooting in Toronto, Little Mosque on the Prairie opened its doors to Leslie Kulperger -- a consultant creating a new certification program for OMDC's 'Green Screen' initiative. Leslie took a tour of the production set and gave us feedback on how we can make our production more "green." During her tour, Leslie noticed many areas in which the production staff were consciously thinking in terms of "reuse and reduce."

Leslie was kind enough to send us a follow-up email after her visit, and has allowed us to include a few excerpts:

"Our visit began at the WestWind Pictures offices, where we were shuttled to the set studio along with an art department crew from another production. [Associate Producer] Shane Corkery took the time to lead us through the studio and answer our numerous questions... We have been continually amazed by the level of help we have received on this endeavor, and were especially pleased to have had the opportunity to actually get to see an episode being shot. It speaks volumes to the WestWind Pictures' interest and desire in improving its environmental footprint."


CONTEST

"Week One" of our Little Mosque on the Prairie Facebook Trivia Challenge has come to a close...

We have received a flurry of activity from participants across Canada, as well as players from as far away as Norway. This six week challenge is open to everyone, but there can only be one winner and this week we would like to congratulate Victoria Klein with the top score of 1957 points.

"Week Two" of the contest starts today -- Tuesday August 19!

Don't have a Facebook profile? You can still take part in the trivia challenge by signing up at www.facebook.com to create your own free profile. Once you have a profile, add the Little Mosque on the Prairie Trivia Challenge application, which can be found on the official Little Mosque on the Prairie Facebook fan page.

August 12, 2008

The Mercy Chronicle: Issue #3

BEHIND THE SCENES

This week's behind the scenes we explore the Toronto set of Little Mosque on the Prairie. Janak Subramanian is an intern with WestWind Pictures. Janak along with an eclectic mix of students, researchers and crew from other productions were invited to an afternoon on set of Little Mosque on the Prairie, this is his behind the scenes disclosure...

As an office intern at WestWind Pictures, my day is divided between crunching numbers and filing papers. Don't get me wrong, I love what I'm doing, but I don't get to see much excitement and action. When I heard the office was putting together a tour of Little Mosque (one of my favourite shows!) I was anxious to hop on board; and am I glad that I did! Visiting the set of a big budget television show is an amazing, eye-opening experience for anyone who wants to get into television, or is just really interested in seeing what the studio looks like behind the scenes.

The action started before we even parked the car. I looked out of the window to see a huge trailer with a car on it, two cameras, a director's chair, and all the other gear you would find on any set. The assistant director explained that this was for a driving scene between two characters, and that rather than have them try to drive and act, it would be easier to mount them on a trailer, drive a truck and pull them around. This scene would probably be only 3-4 minutes, for one episode! The amount of work and preparation that went into that was unbelievable, and I knew right then and there that these people were seasoned pros, and this was the real deal.

Seeing the sets in the studio was very revealing. Seeing Amaar's office with the Torontonian artifacts, or Yasir's tiny little office filled with local Saskatchewan business cards, and even Baber's house – with the Arabic calligraphy, and the beautifully designed Persian rugs; I could only think of one thing: the research. When I think of the aesthetic elements of a show, I think of the camerawork, the editing, the music, sound, etc; I never think about the art direction of a show, and this one had me thinking! The artistic directors must have sat down and said, "What would a young Muslim lawyer from Toronto decorate his office with?" or, "How would a conservative Muslim contractor who runs his business out of his mosque maintain his workspace?" All these questions are answered so accurately, that we the viewers watch without ever noticing something wrong. I grew up with Muslim friends, and standing inside Baber's house took me back to my Pakistani friend's house, as his mom made us paranthas.

The day capped off meeting Baber Siddiqui (Manoj Sood). Contrary to his on screen persona, Mr. Sood was very gentle and polite with us. He only called me an infidel three times! - (kidding). We also met Layla (Aliza Vellani) whose bubbly personality made the day that much better. Mr. Sood was kind enough to give me his autograph, and talk to us for a little bit. After the day was I over, I left with a new appreciation for this show, as well as a T-shirt.


WHAT'S NEW?
Little Mosque on the Prairie Facebook Trivia Challenge – Starts today August 12!

The contests consists of one quiz per week, for six weeks, each trivia challenge features ten multiple-choice questions. Players test their knowledge against the clock and a public leader board tracks the highest scores each week. Each week's top score wins an exclusive PRIZE PACK! Items include an official Little Mosque on the Prairie fashion hoodie, sports cap, cast autographed poster,plus Season 1 DVD box set, all inside the must-have bag of the season, the Little Mosque on the Prairie satchel.

Don't have a Facebook profile? You can still take part in the trivia challenge by signing up at www.facebook.com to create your own free profile. Once you have a profile, add the Little Mosque on the Prairie Facebook Trivia Challenge application, which can be found (starting August 12) on the official Little Mosque on the Prairie Facebook fan page.

August 6, 2008

The Mercy Chronicle: Issue #2

Little Mosque on the Prairie shows appreciation to its fans!

From Facebook to YouTube, Little Mosque on the Prairie has been shared and discussed openly amongst diverse communities. To show our appreciation to you (our fans) we will be launching our Facebook Trivia Challenge, starting August 12. There will be one contest per week, for six weeks, each featuring ten multiple-choice questions. Players receive scores and a public leader board tracks the highest scores each week. Each week's winner receives an exclusive prize pack! Items include an official Little Mosque on the Prairie T-shirt, fashion hoodie, mug and a baseball hat, plus a poster autographed by the cast, and season one on DVD, all stuffed inside a very fashionable Little Mosque on the Prairie tote bag.

It's just our way of saying THANKS to you for your support of Little Mosque on the Prairie.

For those who do not have a Facebook profile you can take part in our trivia challenge by signing up at www.facebook.com to create your own free profile. Add the trivia application, which can be found (starting August 12) by simply visiting our Official Little Mosque on the Prairie Facebook site.

BEHIND THE SCENES
In this week's behind the scenes interview we speak with Mandy Merzaban, a devoted fan of the show and the creator of two of the hottest Facebook Groups: Canadians Who Love Little Mosque on the Prairie and Zaib Shaikh Appreciation (Amaar Rashid on Little Mosque on the Prairie). Mandy, a recent graduate from the University of British Columbia, discusses openly her love for the show, her devotion to her Facebook groups, and her interest in creating an online space to discuss issues regarding cultural identity.

Question: Initially, how did you hear of Little Mosque on the Prairie?
Mandy: I first heard about the show through the advertisements that were broadcast on the CBC during the months leading up to the premiere. I believe there was one involving Muslims and curling... which of course grabbed my attention.

Question: What is it about the show that excites you?
Mandy: What I find particularly interesting about the show is that it is different from the standard arrangement of a television sitcom about small town life. The characters in this comedy series portray the 'everyday Muslim' which is rare, or rather foreign in the mainstream circuit. Rather than stereotypes, the characters are not one dimensional, but develop and grow as the show goes on. Little Mosque presents a more nuanced perspective on Canadian culture and attempts to forefront aspects of our multicultural society that haven't really entered the limelight. I am glad that we are able to move on from the 'Brady Bunch' type standard. A comedy about a small Muslim community in a prairie town is definitely fertile ground for comedy!

Question: How many members are in your groups?
Mandy: So far, the "Canadians Who Love Little Mosque on the Prairie" group stands at 1561 members and growing! While the "Zaib Shaikh Appreciation" has 128 members. These groups should continue to grow whilst more people join Facebook and become enthusiasts of the comedy series! In order to join these groups, people must also be Facebook members.

Question: How much time was spent in creating and also maintaining the groups?
Mandy: Maintaining the group is ongoing really, whenever there is an update, or an event happening related to "Little Mosque," we post it. And if any of us attend events we will post pictures and such to share with other fans.

Question: What are some of the topics that are discussed online?
Mandy: There is a broad spectrum of topics which are discussed and debated with in these groups, ranging from issues of cultural and religious representation on the show to whether or not Rayyan will be engaged next season!

Question: What exactly motivated you as a fan of the show to connect with other fans?
Mandy: Well, I thought Little Mosque would spark some buzz, and I wanted to know how other people would respond to the show and its introduction into Canadian television.

Question: We have a 6-week Facebook Trivia Challenge leading up to the launch of the new season and the new interactive site. Will you be playing competitively along with your friends?
Mandy: I am sure there are plenty of people who would be more than willing to strut their stuff in Little Mosque trivia. I myself am not a competitive type, but I might do quite well... I should hope!

Question: Do you subscribe to the Little Mosque on the Prairie newsletter, if so what would you and your members like to see included in the newsletter?
Mandy: Yes, I have subscribed to the newsletter. One particular aspect that I enjoy is the feedback from viewers of the show. It would be very interesting to see that be developed more. I would assume that links and updates about events, and articles about the show would be in the interest of the fans.

Question: Who are you favorite characters on Little Mosque on the Prairie and why?
Mandy: At the current moment, I am split between Yasir and Baber. Yasir is hilarious as he tries to make everything apply to business, and his stance on his religion is on a purely "need to know" basis. The way he deals with his problems is always a source of comedy. Baber on the other hand has a whole set of other personality quirks, which of course in his understanding are religiously permissible, and make dealing with everyday problems an epic quest... How Baber basically overstates everything is hilarious. But I also love his character because he sometimes learns to compromise, even if it is like pulling teeth.

Question: What your predictions are for season III of Little Mosque (launching Oct 1)?
Mandy: I keep an open mind; I try not to ponder too much on the matter so that I can be surprised!

*** Little Mosque on the Prairie would like to thank Facebook Groups co-creators Mandy Merzaban and Derek Barker for their continuous support of Little Mosque on the Prairie.***