How Mo Created its Unique Blend of Comedy, Drama, and Olive Oil

How Mo Created its Unique Blend of Comedy, Drama, and Olive Oil ...

The people behind Mo can say with a perfectly straight face that the new Netflix comedy starts off with guns blazing. Hamoodi and Mo Najjar (Mo Amer) get caught in a shooting in a grocery store, unsure if it's a mass shooting. Either way, it's just another damn thing that messes with Mos' day, and it's probably less (spiritually) harmful than what happens right before, with Mo seeing samples of chocolate-covered

The film itself is represented through off-screen sound and hard cuts that focus the viewers attention on minor detail, revealing the horror of the situation. Those include the ripped, bloodstained bag of cat food with the most annoying mascot that Mos brother Samir (Omar Elba) tricked him into getting, as well as bystanders who roast Moscounterfeit Yeezys (Not the 500 Triple-Black?) as he is carried toward an ambulance ride he cannot afford.

Mo isnt the first comedy to have an earnest, passionate, and tragic heart to its narrative, nor the first comedy to seamlessly switch between comedy and drama at the drop of a hat. But in constructing Amers' semi-autobiographical immigrant narrative, Mo director Slick Naim and editors Andrea Folprecht and Patrick Tuck were able to capture details so vividly that they speak to the universal experience of trying to keep your head above water in life, work, and love.

Netflix's Courtesy

Naim focused on the cultural aspects of Palestine, particularly food, in order to give the show a lot of personality. Naim said the show needed to be handheld, and it had to be able to convey a person's motivation both visually and sonically.

Naim and cinematographer Timothy Burton worked hard to make the things that give Mo life feel real onscreen, whether it's the sun-soaked skyline of Houston or flowing, warmth-soaked detail shots of Mos mother Yusra (Farah Bsieso) pressing olive oil by hand. I think so much of [the style of the series] has to do with Timothy Burtons cinematography and just how grounded he makes the show feel.

Editor Andrea Folprecht said the feeling of being grounded in the specificity of a place and of people, the ways the Mos family drives each other crazy but shows the depth of their love in what they do for each other, helped the show transition from funny to suspenseful and back again sometimes in the same scene with ease.

Netflix is kindly providing this info.

The series' visual depth is rooted in music, an eclectic mix of everything from American hip-hop to Arab rap to Texas bluegrass that is as diverse and lively as Mo (both the character and the creator) and the team that created it. It's almost like a cheat sheet for me, according to Naim.

Folprecht said the music provides a lot of energy, and I think the combination of musical genres provides that energy. Using [music supervisor Suhell Nafar], I would go to him and say, Hey, Ive got this scene where x happens, and he would send me options.

Even if it is expressed in different ways, Mos's mother works to feed her children, sometimes Texas rap provides the flow for Mo selling sneakers out of his car, and both can exist comfortably in the same episode. As an editor, this is a buzzword, but juxtaposition is critical.

We had an embarrassment of riches. All of our first cuts were a lot longer because we could have let them riff for a lot longer, but we wanted to keep the program light and lively, according to Folprecht. It's about deciding which pieces to keep.

Netflix's Courtesy

The sequence in Episode 3 where Mos' girlfriend, Maria (Teresa Ruiz), encourages him to free him from the burden of Catholic confession is led off by cavernous establishing shots of the church and the creaking of Mos' naked feet against the wooden floorboards, revealing his vulnerability in the space.

When Mo actually goes to the priest, (played by Bernard Bun B Freeman of Houston rap legends UGK), the cameras choices make it impossible for him to escape his own discomfort, or the painful new information he learned about his father. In this instance, it was important to us because [the claustrophobic nature of the space helped play up] Mos the first time in there. Theres a Muslim in a confessional. We just had to make it feel good.

Mo's stylistic strength is in its ability to change things up and make them pop in the series' compositions and how theyre splintered together in the edit. The show blends its comedic and dramatic impulses to give us a fuller sense of him as a character and his constant struggles, the big ones of trying to be present in his own life, too. Naim said.