Behind The Scenes With The Directors, Editors And Designer Of Workin’ Moms Season 5

Workin’ Moms, created by the show’s star and DGC Ontario Member Catherine Reitman, is currently in its 5th season on CBC. The comedy series has achieved international acclaim while also creating a thriving platform for so many DGC Ontario creatives to showcase their craft.

We recently spoke with some of the Directors, Editors and Designers behind the latest season about their creative relationships, favourite scenes and what it’s like to work on a hit series in Toronto. 

Read below for our interview with Workin’ Moms’ Directors: Aleysa Young and Mars Horodyski, Picture Editors: Lindsay Allikas and Marianna Khoury and Production Designer: Danielle Sahota.

Aleysa Young and Catherine Reitman posing for the camera.
Aleysa Young and Catherine Reitman

Can you tell us a bit about the creative relationships between the Directors, Editors and Designers on Workin’ Moms?

Director Aleysa Young: With comedy, some of the best writing happens in the edit. Whether a joke lives or dies can come down to a matter of frames, so I like an Editor who shares a similar sensibility and whose taste I trust. Our time spent on editing time is limited in television, so those elements make things more efficient, and hopefully, they’ll defend our choices once I leave the [virtual] room. Lindsay Allikas and Marianna Khoury are a dream team, and working with them on Workin’ Moms was a joy. We all play well together, so we can find and elevate the story & humour in a way that feels like a fun exploration rather than a struggle to find something that may not be there.

Director Mars Horodyski: I worked with fantastic Editors Marianna Khoury & Linsday Allikas on this season of Workin’Moms. Collaboration is key! Editors always bring fresh eyes to the material. I love seeing something that we shot come together in an unexpected and magical way. Workin’ Moms has a unique tone in terms of balancing the drama and the comedy. We get to push some boundaries and play with a bit of improv. It’s a lot of fun.

How would you describe your creative relationship as a Production Designer with the Directors on Workin’ Moms

Production Designer Danielle Sahot: I must have a clear understanding of the Director’s ideas and personal style so that my designs can support their vision. Throughout prep, it’s an exciting exchange of ideas, drawings and photos, ensuring that every detail of each set dynamically tells the story and works for blocking. I love when a Director can step on set and feel immersed and inspired. 

How would you describe your creative relationship as an Editor with the Directors on Workin’ Moms

Picture Editor Lindsay Allikas: We don’t have much time together, so it’s crucial to be working from a solid assembly. That way, we can have space to play around with ideas instead of fixing minor problems. Mars and Aleysa each directed half the season, so they were both invested in the season’s entire arc, which helped us make stronger choices. 

Picture Editor Marianna Khoury: My relationship with a Director is meaningful but short! I worked with Aleysa Young on Baroness von Sketch Show, so we already had a nice and easy flow. It was my first time working with Mars Horodyski – she was so great about keeping the communication open during the entire shooting process. That helped us find our groove pretty quickly by the time we got to the Director’s cut. 

Can you tell us about your favourite scene from Workin’ Moms Season 5?

(Possible Spoilers Ahead!)

Director Aleysa Young: No spoilers, but it’s a tie between an intimate moment with a handbag and a less intimate moment with a handgun.

Director Mars Horodyski: One of my favourite scenes was the Denim & Diamonds party in the first episode. Anne introduces the women to her new small-town friends, and it does not go over well. It was a big night shoot featuring all our key cast. The D&D costumes were ridiculously good. It was especially fun to watch the cast work their magic in a big group—some great moments.

Production Designer Danielle Sahota: I love the episode in Season 3 where the characters go to Val’s cottage and do LSD. It allowed me to play with a new aesthetic outside of our usual city world, and there are so many hilarious performances. My favourite scenes have to be the phone-calls from the rural police station; Val plays an excellent frog. 

Picture Editor Lindsay Allikas: I don’t want to reveal any spoilers, but my favourite scene involves Kate getting to know her new client Sloan. Kate is so quick and is always able to pivot on the spot to find solutions to whatever is thrown her way, so it’s a lot of fun to edit the moments when she can’t quite catch up in time. I appreciate that the show introduces new characters that can challenge the leads and force them to grow. 

Picture Editor Marianna Khoury: In the Season 4 finale, Kate has a nightmare where her son Charlie is now a full-grown man who never really matured. Adult Charlie, played by Chris Locke, who did such a hilariously strange performance, and Catherine’s reactions were perfect. 

My favourite scenes in Workin’ Moms tend to be ones with the kids and babies. The cast has bonded with the kids over the years, and they have all become excellent at improvising around them. It’s a rewarding challenge to piece it all together. 

What do you love about making TV in Toronto? How has shooting a production changed since COVID-19?

Director Aleysa Young: There’s so much great talent in this town. It’s a large but tight-knit community, and that familiarity and camaraderie are invaluable when collaborating on a project. There aren’t many cities that can give you a Mad Max landscape and the Vatican on the same shoot day.

I thought Covid conditions would be more challenging. Still, outside of the lack of nuance directing with half a face brings, it’s pretty much business as usual but with masks and hand sanitizer. Although I also feel like it’s a placebo that lulls us into a false sense of security, the constant testing helps. I feel lucky to have been able to keep working during this time. It’s a testament to the work the producers and the industry as a whole have put into keeping us safe. Hot tip: fake moustaches make wearing masks tolerable!

Director Mars Horodyski
Director Mars Horodyski

Director Mars Horodyski: Toronto has so much to offer in terms of fantastic crew, talent and locations. Many scenes from Workin’ Moms were shot in the Toronto core, and we had access to some beautiful locations.

I think film productions are already used to adapting to challenging situations, and working during Covid-19 was no different. I really appreciate how the entire team took the protocols seriously and looked out for each other. 

Production Designer Danielle Sahota: Toronto has an amazing established and emerging pool of talent to collaborate with. It is a pleasure to grow as a Production Designer and see our city creatively rise to meet our expanding industry’s demands. On every project, I discover new fantastic resources that cater to the needs of the art department. 

Shooting during Covid hasn’t been without its challenges, but in many ways led our whole production to become more organized and decisive out of necessity. The production team on Workin’ Moms was very diligent with protocols and testing and did a great job keeping the team safe and the show running. 

Editors Lindsay Allikas, Marianna Khoury and their assistant editor Chuck Khan
Editors Lindsay Allikas, Marianna Khoury and their assistant editor Chuck Khan

Picture Editor Lindsay Allikas: The best thing about making TV in Toronto is the ability to walk to work, followed very closely by the incredible community. Getting to work with friends always feels like I’ve cracked some magic code, and I appreciate it even more during Covid-19, when everything feels a little more stressful. It’s been such a pleasure to work with Marianna Khoury again when she and our wonderful 1st Assistant Chuck Kahn have been the only people I interact with in person for months on end. The team has worked remotely before, so everyone is well adjusted to streaming the edit. I miss having Directors in the room because there’s a particular fluidity of ideas when I do not constantly forget that I’ve left my microphone on mute. 

Picture Editor Marianna Khoury: I am a big fan of the Toronto comedy community and love it when comedians get roles on the shows I’m working on. 

Editing is mostly sitting alone in a dark room, so Covid hasn’t changed Post too much! I miss collaborating in person with Directors and producers, but we’ve adjusted well to streaming cuts on video calls. When presenting cuts to Catherine, I set her video to full screen and observe her watching the episode. She is so animated when experiencing a new cut, and it really helps to feel when things are working or not working! 

Workin’ Moms currently airs on CBC Tuesday and with Season 1 – 4 streaming on Netflix.

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