HELLO (AGAIN) LOCATION MANAGER MICHAEL ROKNIC ON THE LINK BETWEEN LOCATION AND CHARACTER

Hello (Again), the new CBC Gem webseries created by Nathalie Younglai (Coroner) and Simu Liu (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Kim’s Convenience) follows the complicated romance between chef Jayden and ER resident Avery. Six months after their breakup, Jayden is mysteriously sent back in time to the day that he and Avery met, giving him a chance to fix the mistakes of his past. We spoke to Location Manager Michael Roknic about finding the perfect Toronto-based locations for each character, the importance of authenticity, and tapping into how specific areas of the GTA fit within the story.

Hello (Again) is available to watch now on CBC Gem.

Alex Mallari Jr and Rong Fu in Hello (Again)
Alex Mallari Jr and Rong Fu in Hello (Again)

How did you first get involved with Hello (Again)?

I worked with Teresa Ho over the years on Frankie Drake, Fool Canada and on Anne With An E as a scout. When she called me and told me about the project I was intrigued, and after reading the script and laughing out loud a bunch of times, I was in!  

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

I inherited some locations from the pilot, but as a first-generation Canadian who grew up in East York (so did Teresa!), it wasn’t too difficult to find authentic locations centred around the experiences of diverse Torontonians. The majority of the locations were based in the East End and North York areas. We chose a loft on Ossington Ave for the interior of Jayden’s apartment, because for anyone that grew east of the Don River, their first move is to go downtown!

Jayden’s (Alex Mallari Jr) apartment on Hello (Again)

What sorts of considerations go into finding locations that are suitable for a romantic comedy, especially for a series that co-creator Simu Liu calls “unapologetically Asian”?

We tried to find locations best suited for each character. It was important for us to find locations that the audience would believe the characters would live and work in.  Not only could they relate to the characters, but the settings as well. The locations were raw, unpolished and unapologetic. Toronto is such a diverse city that almost any working-class neighbourhood would have worked. 

Jayden’s mom’s house on Hello (Again)

Hello (Again) also draws inspiration from K-dramas and other popular Asian drama shows. How did this factor into locations?

One of my favourite movies is The Chaser, directed by Na Hong-jin, and although it’s not as light as Hello (Again) it still inspired me in finding the most authentic locations as possible. In Na Hong-jin’s film, the locations become a character, and hopefully, we were able to do the same in our show.

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