Last day of filming of Maria and the Mennos took place last Friday at the Milt Olfert farm, where cast and crew of the Manitoba-Made TV sitcom has been in production for the last couple of months.
Co-writer of the show, Tina Fehr-Kehler shared what the last days of filming was like, looking back.
"Chuck and Erna, who play Hank and Sarah Friesen, the mom and dad, had their last performance. It was the most heartrending scene, and it was the last scene, and everybody was crying. We all get along with each other really well. Everybody is just fantastic, super, super wonderful to work with, and you're like this little family. This last day, it feels surreal, really tired. It was a really long day, yesterday (Thursday), so that doesn't feel real."
Morden's Chuck Fefchak is no stranger to the stage, with many Candlewick and Flatlands Theatre roles in his portfolio. He was the last member to join the cast.
"The day I got to meet everybody, friendships started to be forged right there in the Fort Garry Church, and it's just grown. And as people, the extras and and the other people in specific episodes that come to visit Hank and Sarah, everybody's on everybody's Instagram, and Facebook, and texting. And it is truly one big happy family. Which I'm used to in a cast of 10 doing a show for a weekend at the Manitou Opera House. This is bigger, much, much bigger."
Fefchak said filming the first season in two months felt like the movie Groundhog Day, where every day was the same.
"But it wasn't Groundhog Day because every little scene has its own idiosyncrasies and special stuff. To have it complete, it's just like, how can this be? We're just getting into it. Which is not at all the case. It's just, you don't want it to end. I've been mulling it in my head, we're not guaranteed anything with this. We're not guaranteed one person is going to watch it. We're not guaranteed we're going to get a season two, but they can't take away season one."
He noted, he is not a Mennonite, not Filipino and not a father, but he was cast the Mennonite father of the groom, Hank Friesen.
He described the art of bringing two cultures together in front of the camera for a karaoke scene, that takes place in Friesen's living room that looks like it, Fefchak embellished, 'puked' karaoke. He added, there are twenty, very friendly Filipinos in the room and they are very welcoming.
"That in itself, I mean we think conservative," referring to the old Mennonite way, "We don't go out and make a point of it.The Filipino people just do exactly that. They're just, 'Hey, how are you doing?' There are hugs all around, and holy cow, that is this real aspect of it. It's just you are welcome, no matter what."
Filming was also done throughout the week in Altona's Thrift Store and at Winkler Arts and Culture. Fehr-Kehler noted filming at Winkler Arts and Culture was a great experience because it's wheelchair accessible and was able to accommodate one of the cast members in a wheelchair. She added, the cast and crew were intentionally made up of people who are not from mainstream society to help them grow their talents.
Fehr-Kehler would like to thank everybody including the cast and crew, sponsors and people who gave space to film or weird requests of the week used to film a scene, and the community for their support in making the first season of Maria and the Mennos. The show is scheduled to air this fall on YES TV.