November 19 2015
From adversity and intense disappointment, a young filmmaker is on an exciting path…
IN THE SPACE of just a couple of years, Islah-Abdur Rahman has built up a loyal following for his hugely popular Youtube series, ‘Corner Shop Show‘ – with almost 25,000 subscribers. The series – about a young convenience store owner ‘Malik’ (played by Abdur-Rahman himself) and his faithful sidekick, ‘Tony’ – has proved to be a big draw and it has been able to attract established actors such as Ameet Chana (currently in the stage play, ‘Anita and Me‘), rising stars, Tanya Robb (‘Hollyoaks‘), Hamza Jeetooa (BBC ‘My Jihad‘), and Jasmine Jardot (‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan‘), as well as some promising novices.
Shot in a real store in London, both Abdur-Rahman and Michael Truong (Tony) have gained a cult following and have appeared as a double act at melas and other events. Episodes 3-6 were also broadcast on the cable channel Brit Asia TV last year.
Now nearing its conclusion and with big plans for a final crowd-funded feature film episode finale, we caught up with the actor-director-comedian, as he and his team prepare to welcome a host of special guests and stars, including Guzzy Bear (BBC Asian Network) for a special episode 9 screening on Sunday (November 22)…
www.asianculturevulture.com (ACV): What is the thinking behind launching episode 9 with a special screening and having a big premiere so to speak?
Islah Abdur-Rahman (IAR): We’ve had a long journey with our series, when I say ‘we’ I mean the ‘Corner Shop Show’ team and the followers. We’ve grown together, each episode getting better by than the previous one in terms of quality and content. Episode 9 is the launch of our finale episode, we made a huge effort to make this as cinematic as possible for our fans to envision what we can pull off for Episode 10. Which is why I’m hosting a premiere to invite all my guests down and talk about our crowdfunding project for Episode 10. Our audience have a chance to donate and fund us for our final episode, the Corner Shop Episode 10 feature film!
ACV: There seems to be more of a marketing push around the premiere for episode 9, why is this?
IAR: We’ve actually premiered episodes since episode 6, so this isn’t a surprise to our audience. We have built a reputation for ourselves with this being our 4th premiere now. But as it’s approaching our finale we want this to be a bigger and better premiere than our last few.
ACV: How is the series developing for you, when you first started it was shorter and an out and out comedy, now it is longer and has more involved storylines, while still being funny and is more in the comedy drama genre…
IAR: When you watch as many TV series as I do, development in plot and characters is a key element. Our audience has grown with all the characters and have grown an attachment to them. The development for me has been a learning experience and extremely fun to play with, knowing what works with the audience as they give their feedback. I’m really excited to bring old characters back in action and introduce new ones!
ACV: What are your plans for ‘The Cornershop Show’? Are you talking to mainstream broadcast channels or does Youtube remain your primary focus?
IAR: I would love for the show to be taken mainstream, I know for a fact that it has grasped mainstream attention because I get told so by people in the industry. For now though, YouTube is where it’s at. The online platform is huge right now.
ACV: You are a great example of someone who perhaps wasn’t very academic (he left school with four GSCEs) and yet you perserved got a degree in something you loved and now you’ve made a real success of it. What would you say to those who look at what you’ve done and think ‘I could do that’ (but not be as funny obviously…haha)
IAR: Haha…the way I see it is anything can be achieved, if you put your mind to it. It’s not like I’m a super hero with powers (as much of a Superman fan as I am) I struggled and studied just like any other person. ‘Corner Shop Show’ was once just an idea on a Word document, on my laptop, in my bedroom. If a regular guy like myself can do it then so can anyone else!
Abdur-Rahman was involved in a previous Youtube series “Mandem on the Wall” which ended up on E4 Youngers and he was one of the series’ creators – but wasn’t involved in the TV episodes. He did this while he was still studying for his degree in media and cultural studies at Kingston University and it was his experience of being left behind and the death of a teenage cousin that prompted him to revaluate his life after feeling very down and generally keeping a low profile.
Beatboxer Ekko, a friend of Abdur-Rahman’s, asked him to direct a music video to a track he was making with Raxstar and Rita Morar. The track, “Never Be Enough” made a huge personal impact on him. “I was in a depressed state and then I listened to the lyrics and it was about not giving up when you are defeated.” It marked a rebirth. “Things turn out for the best. The most common cause of failure is to quit when you are faced with a temporary defeat,”said Abdur-Rahman, who grew up in Lewisham, South London. He had also been a singer at one time but decided to focus on filmmaking and the music video marked his re-entry into the media world. It gave him the purpose and confidence to bring ‘Corner Shop Show‘ into existence and he told us, from the outset, he felt like he was onto something. “The feedback I got was great, people told me it made them smile and brightened their day. For the first time my family supported me. They’d always been a bit iffy about me being in the media but now I’ve got their full support. ‘Corner Shop Show‘ is family entertainment and everyone can watch it. It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” he said.
Earlier this year, he also added international charity work to his ever expanding roll call of achievements, raising money for the Al-Ansari Foundation and flying to out Zanzibar to help construct a clean water well for a village.
Main top picture: ‘Malik’ (Islah Abdur-Rahman) and ‘Tony’ (Michael Truong)
Listing and tickets
Sunday, November 22 -‘Cornershop Show’ Episode 9 Premiere, 2.30pm-6pm, Space, 129-131 Mare St, Hackney, London E8 3RH