Welcome to Surrey Approved for Pilot Funding

Web series based on life in Surrey in contention for one season’s worth of funding

Welcome to Surrey creators, Shyam Valera and Kashif Pasta, discuss their project (Courtesy of Valera and Pasta)

When Kashif Pasta and Shyam Valera first launched their Surrey-based web series Buddy Guys in 2011, a positive response from the community fast-tracked them towards the production of a “more grounded” series. This August, the duo will be releasing the pilot for their upcoming show, Welcome to Surrey, which follows the story of a Surrey-born law student returning home after years of living in Toronto. Upon her return, she reconnects with old friends, one of which is an old flame.

Pasta and Valera describe the show as a rom-com, calling it “Friends meets Little Mosque on the Prairie meets Master of None.” Unlike Buddy Guys, Welcome to Surrey is a complete production with a larger cast and more developed plot lines and characters.

“It’s that idea of when you move away from home and come back, you feel like you changed and it hasn’t,” says Pasta.

Ironically, the protagonist of Welcome to Surrey doesn’t like it there much. Being isolated from the urban environment that she grew accustomed to while living in Toronto is irritating for the law student, but eventually, “her perspective ends up changing a little bit.”

“It’s only a negative experience for her because she perceives it as negative. It’s not necessarily that the city itself is bad,” says Pasta. “Surrey does have a certain reputation, and when you have a show called Welcome to Surrey, people are going to want to click on it. When they click, they’re going to want to relate in some way. That’s why we have a character who also doesn’t want to be in Surrey.”

That’s not to say Pasta and Valera aren’t proud of their home, they just want to “reflect people’s lives back to them.” In actuality, they’re both residents and fans of the city’s architecture, community-focused atmosphere, and resourcefulness.

“People make fun of the tagline that the future is here, but the fact is that it’s gotten really innovative,” says Valera. “It’s been really open for business, and there are a lot of great people here.”

They also aim to highlight Surrey’s vibrant fusion culture with their series, calling it a “very Canadian thing.”

“We see cultures interacting and being able to choose between having authentic sushi, authentic gelato, and authentic samosa all on one street,” says Shyam. “There are challenges to living in Surrey, but you can’t deny that there is beauty in Surrey.”

The duo received funding for the pilot after being voted in on Storyhive, a community-powered funding program for emerging content creators in B.C. and Alberta,” as written on their website, where Pasta and Valera’s campaign was “one of the most local stories [with] the most global reach.” Their “incredibly diverse group of voters” is what allowed Welcome to Surrey’s pilotto go into production, and it will be released through Pasta and Valera’s production company, Dunya Media, on Aug. 8 online and through Optik Demand.

Although the full first season has already been written, it won’t be approved for funding until after the second round of Storyhive voting, occurring between Aug. 8 and 12.

Those interested in staying up-to-date on the series can visit its website, welcometosurrey.ca, for social media links and news.

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