In early April, an official teaser trailer graced our Facebook timelines and, in bold capitalisation against a stark orange backdrop, stated unapologetically that MBA was ‘f***ing coming’. That it did, with the web show’s first episode airing on 14 April, introducing viewers to the fictitious aspiring documentary director (Max Prentis) and show’s protagonist, MBA student Nathan (Nathan Amram). Armed with a camera crew at his disposal, Prentis’ character chronicles Nathan’s conception of a new sex toy company for his MBA practical university coursework. Hilarity duly ensues, as the audience observes Nathan in his dealings with his fellow team members: Liam (Gregory Zenin), the sensible, natural leader of the group, Fred (Nathaniel Ashley), the rich kid who complains that ‘daddy didn’t drop nine grand’ for it to be wasted by Nathan’s shenanigans, and Lily (Toni Williamson), the quiet, ostensibly innocent girl who unexpectedly talks about the odd dead body every now and again. A Lili and Michou Films enterprise (Amram’s own production company), this mockumentary mimics in true W1A-style the perils of working in a team, especially when faced with the challenge of harnessing the creative energies of an over-zealous, over-confident member, typified by the character of Nathan.
Taking inspiration from the humour of both the US and British versions of The Office, the show blends the ironic, self-deprecating cynicism of the former with the visual farcicality of the latter. Like Michael Scott and David Brent, Nathan is both an overt self-promoter and an impassioned businessman. The idea for his character was born fittingly during one of the writer’s own business lectures: bored in class, Amram wrote what was to be the preliminary draft of MBA’s pilot in a single day. He commissioned the help of friend Ali Carson and the pair promptly penned four more episodes, before sourcing a production team and commencing the casting process. The project was comprised in its entirety of students. None were paid, yet all had the creative passion necessary to embark on the adventure of making the show.
The Student recently sat down with Amram, who produced and acted in MBA alongside writing the script, as well as director Megan Ajioka and production assistant Dalia Al-dujaili.
Tell me about the show’s script.
Nathan: Everything written was taken from the truth and personal experience. We knew what the characters should look like. We wanted a genuine, natural feel.
Dalia: The script was very subtle; it was important that the audience could identify and resonate with the characters.
Megan: That, I think, is the main strength of the casting: we managed to ensure that every actor had a bit of their on-screen characters inside their own personalities.
How did you go about filming the show?
Nathan: We didn’t want theatrical acting; over-dramatisation would have undermined the authenticity of the mockumentary form itself.
Dalia: Yeah, I agree. The distance between the camera’s lens and the actors’ faces is often intimate, which will enable audiences to feel as though they are witnessing significant actions without the need for grand gestures.
Does the story of MBA have any underlying morals?
Dalia: The show is more than a surface-level comedy and there are deeper themes underpinning the plot. Audiences will witness blossoming romances and complicated rivalries that arise [between the protagonist and his colleagues].
What challenges did you face?
Megan: A short movie in itself is a task; doing five 10-minute episodes is even harder. At times, it was an absolute nightmare coordinating everyone in the cast and crew but Dalia was an angel throughout the whole process.
Dalia: Constant communication was key.
Nathan: Also, budget challenges. We had no external financial support; the show was made using money from our own pockets – about £100 of it, as a rough estimate.
Megan: Maybe £20 on snacks. We had to get creative: bottles came from peoples’ houses, costumes from peoples’ wardrobes.
What do you see in MBA’s future?
Nathan: Our initial goal is at least 1000 views on each social media platform. Long-term, we are planning on submitting MBA to festivals.
Dalia: Megan was a brilliant director. She’d commend everyone on their efforts whilst balancing it with constructive criticism. People think girls can’t be as commanding as you need to be on set. [To Megan] You were kind, but also fierce and dominant. You need to be ballsy in this industry.
Nathan: My overarching message is that if you’re passionate about something, do it. If you have an idea, an aspiration, a goal – make it into an actuality. This was a project led exclusively by students with minimal resources and negligible funding. And we f***ing did it.
Image Credit: Cate Fraser