The talented actor, director and writer talked to CanIndia about her web series which recently released on CBC Gem. The thriller about a South Asian woman who turns to a life of crime to bail her truck driver father out of prison was inspired by problems faced by the community.
Born in Chandigarh and raised in Toronto, Supinder Wraich found her passion for performing at the age of five when she would happily put on a skit for her friends and family. Her first big break came when she was cast in the Emmy award-winning web series Guidestones. This role earned her Best Performance in a Program or Series Produced for Digital Media at the 2015 Canadian Screen Awards. Since then, Supinder has amassed a significant body of work in film and television including Hunter’s Moon, Textuality, The Border (CBC), Degrassi: The Next Generation (CTV), Saving Hope (CTV), Combat Hospital (CBC), Rookie Blue (GLOBAL), Copper (BBC), Haven (SYFY), Backpackers (THE CW), The Beaverton (COMEDY), Incorporated (SYFY), The Strain (FX), and The Good Doctor (ABC).
Here are excerpts of an interview about her new web series ‘The 410’ on CBC Gem.
What prompted you to select a crime theme for your mini-series?
I’ve always loved crime thrillers. I love stories with secrets, characters with complex backgrounds and I’m a sucker for a good plot twist! So, when it came to writing my show, I knew that I wanted to work in this genre.
Also, a few years ago I began to notice a recurring narrative in the Indo-Canadian community where South Asian truck drivers were arrested at several borders for attempting to traffic narcotics. I imagined the lives of those truck drivers: what aspirations drove them to commit those crimes—money, power, social rank. I wanted to dramatize that experience and took inspiration from what was happening. I wrote about a fictional family, where the father is arrested for attempting to smuggle cocaine into Canada, and his daughter moves back to Brampton to help take care of her grandmother, eventually falling into her father’s footsteps to raise enough money for his bail.
Is there a message for the South Asian community?
There are a few themes the series explores that I think are important for us as a community to look at. Like the value of daughters vs. sons in our community, the pressures we place on one another to be wealthy as well as issues of drug addiction, incarceration, suicide and strained family relationships. I wanted to shine a light on these things because these issues don’t only exist within our community. They’re universal.
How do you think it will be received?
I was a bit afraid while writing the show that I would get some pushback on airing our community’s dirty laundry. But I truly believe that we must talk about these issues to remove the shame and isolation that gives them their power. I could have written a happy-go-lucky story to maintain the façade of the hard-working-rise-to-success immigrant narrative that traditional media loves to perpetuate, but I think it’s important to write about the things we don’t talk about.
What does your family think of it?
My family was extremely supportive and excited that this story was being told by someone from the community, in that I have the insight and an authority to speak on these topics and they agree that these subjects needed to be explored with authenticity.
Do you plan to show it on a larger platform?
The 410 is currently streaming on CBC Gem and Canadian audiences can visit the Gem Platform at any time and stream the show for free. Because I wanted the content to be accessible to everyone, I’m very excited that our first episodes are live on Gem. I think it’s a wonderful platform for us to find and build our audience. I would love to add additional episodes, which if the option presents itself could mean a move to a more traditional broadcast… However, I very much love the streaming model in the opportunities it affords us in our ability to move story forward without recapping, or writing story without needing to consider commercial breaks, or episode length.
What were some of the challenges you faced during production?
Weather, cast schedules, all the normal issues that arise with large ambitions paired with limited resources. I would say though that our wins outweighed our losses. We had so many instances where we thought we were stuck on some aspect of production, and then some lucky break would happen to make that thing work. For example, we were shooting this scene in a parking lot behind some residential houses and we got every resident except one to move their cars out of the space. Later that day our production manager went to that residence to ask them to move their car, but no one was home. Our production manager randomly snapped a picture of their mailbox that had their name written on it and texted me. As luck would have it, I knew them! Immediately, I gave them a call and within minutes the car was moved. That sort of thing happened so many times that it truly felt someone, or something was looking out for us.
Are you happy with how it turned out?
I think so. It was difficult while editing, because I also play the series lead, to trust my impulses for cutting out certain scenes/takes. I often would ask my editors (Kat Webber, and Jeremy Schaulin Rioux) for support on decisions where I was unsure if the choice was coming from personal vanity or grounded in story. At some point during the edit, I was able to stop watching myself and see the story that I had written which was an important discernment for me to make. I think overall, we’ve done a good job and I am really proud of our team who worked tirelessly to bring this story to the screen.
Any plans for the future?
At some point a small vacation might be nice. In all honesty, I’m super excited to dive back into the world of The 410 to find out what happens next… After my last rewrite on The 410, we went straight into production, which was immediately preceded by postproduction and followed by releasing the project. This was all in a period of just over six months! So, I’m excited to take a short break before going back into the world of these characters and pick up where I left off with Suri, Nani, Malkit and the rest of the gang. -CINEWS