Adam Cohen On Showcasing The Diversity Of Toronto Through ‘Sort Of’

CBC’s new dramatic comedy Sort Of, which follows a genderfluid Torontonian Millenial straddling various identities, is already breaking barriers. We spoke with DGC Ontario Assistant Location Manager Adam Cohen about how Sort Of uniquely portrays the experiences of diverse Torontonians, the logistics of securing locations in a post-lockdown world, and how everyone, despite their identity, can relate to this coming-of-age story of transition and optimism.

Sort Of, which premiered on CBC Gem on October 5th and will premiere on CBC and HBO Max in November, follows Sabi, a genderfluid Torontonian Millenial straddling various identities in an attempt to figure out who they really are. Co-created by Baig and DGC Ontario Director Fab Filippo, Sort Of exposes the labels we once poured ourselves into as no longer applicable…to anyone.

Bilal Baig as Sabi Mehboob in 'Sort Of'
Bilal Baig as Sabi Mehboob in ‘Sort Of’

Tell us how you became involved with this production. 

I was approached by Chris Martin (disappointingly not the singer), a fantastic Location Manager, quality friend and an even better person, about getting the band back together (we had worked together on 2 previous projects, pre-pandemic). I am in no way campaigning to be a part of his team on the next project, how dare you insult my honour!

How did you go about choosing locations for a show that is centred around the experiences of diverse Torontonians? 

Fortunately, production was blessed to have creatives with a strong understanding of what aspects of Toronto they wanted to highlight as part of their story. As you alluded to, ‘Sort Of’ is written by Torontonians telling an authentic, impactful story, and those roots were important to maintain. All that being said, the reality of the situation is that tons of differing factors go into the selection of any location beyond the property’s specific look (not to mention availability, cost, logistics, schedule pairings, unforeseen last-minute absurdity etc). Of course, the pandemic also played a role in shaping not only the day-to-day approach to filming but also what locations would ultimately prove viable (‘Sort Of’ was part of the first wave of productions to emerge from the 1st lockdown). 

Amanda Cordner and Bilal Baig in 'Sort Of'
Amanda Cordner and Bilal Baig in ‘Sort Of’

Toronto often doesn’t get to “play Toronto” in films and television. But with Sort Of, Toronto is front and centre, and the entirety of the show was shot in Toronto. What was it like to get to showcase Toronto in Sort Of? 

It was certainly different, it is a true rarity. Practically speaking though, it doesn’t change things too much. The relentless onslaught of (ideally capably) facilitating ambitious productions waits for no ALM, so unfortunately we don’t get much time to stop and admire that kind of thing. 

How are you hoping Sort Of changes Canadians’ perceptions of what it means to be nonbinary? 

I was blown away by the quality of the show’s writing and storytelling, and let me be totally real here for a second: that does not happen often. Yes, ‘Sort Of’ is very much a meaningful, nonbinary story, but I personally found its relatability extends well beyond that. I’m optimistic that ‘Sort Of’s audience will see elements of themselves in the nonbinary characters and narratives, because in the end, we’re not so different, you and I. 

What are some of your favourite locations in Toronto? 

I don’t personally play favourites: The ones that are fast to find, reasonable in rate, logistically lovely & that we return the way we found them.

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