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Spotlight on Pure

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Writer/Producer, Michael AmoWriter/Producer, Michael Amo

Scheduled for its television debut on CBC Television in early 2017, Pure tells the story of Noah Funk, a newly-elected Mennonite pastor who’s determined to rid his community of unrelenting illegal activity. The series will tell the story of Noah’s trials and tribulations as he does everything he can to turn the community around. We caught up with the production team to learn more about the series.

Q. Tell us about your team.
A. Pure is produced by Two East Productions, an independent film and television production company based in Nova Scotia. Formed in 2008 by the award-winning writer-producer team of Michael Amo (The Listener) and David MacLeod (Trudeau, October 1970, Call Me Fitz, Haven), Two East’s mandate is to create and produce exciting, entertaining, audience-friendly drama for national and international distribution. On Pure, MacLeod serves as executive producer, while Amo is writer, producer and showrunner. They are joined by line producer Ginny Jones Duzak, production designer Jennifer Stewart, set designer Darlene Lewis, props master Jason Shurko, costume designer Kate Rose, editors Kimberlee McTaggart and Thorben Bieger, among other notable Nova Scotian crew members.

Producer, David MacLeod

Q.Why was Nova Scotia the right place for this production?
A. Nova Scotia is the perfect place to produce this story, which is set in the fictional small town of Antioch. We still have an abundance of idyllic farmland here, and also access to more urban locations, which comes in handy. As well, we have an extremely talented and hard-working group of film and television professionals here. We’re privileged to be working with many of them again, and also to have an opportunity to cultivate and train members of the new generation of film workers.

Q. How and why was this story chosen? 
A. Michael Amo’s grandparents were Mennonites who immigrated to Canada after the Russian Revolution, then moved from the farm to the city. Because of the anti-German sentiment during the Second World War, they chose not to teach their children their language (Plattdeutsch), so the customs of that side of the family disappeared with his mother’s generation. But Amo was always curious about it, so when he read a magazine article about the Mennonite Mob called The Wages of Sin, by Andrew Mitrovica and Susan Bourette, he thought the collision of the two worlds – religious vs. secular, rural vs. urban, plain vs. materialistic – would be a great lens through which to examine our own contemporary culture.

Q. Why do you think it’s important to tell this story through film?
A. Pure is incredibly visual. Against the backdrop of beautiful farmland vistas – home to very complex realities – each episode is rooted in a different Mennonite ritual, including those revolving around ordination, baptisms, and funerals.

Q. Without giving away too much, can you tell us more about Noah Funk?
A. A fictional creation, Noah is the soul of the series. He’s a devout man who does his best to live according to Mennonite ideals. In the pilot script, on the day he’s selected to become the new pastor of his community, he’s confronted by the activities of the Mennonite Mob. Horrified, he tries to get rid of the few criminals among his otherwise peaceful and law-abiding brethren. His plan backfires and he’s given a choice by the criminal leader: take the place of the men he had arrested, or he and his family will suffer the consequences. Noah accepts the offer, using it as an opportunity to get the goods on everyone who works for the Mob or does business with them. So Noah’s journey in the first season is all about the impossible moral decisions he must make as he gathers the evidence needed to destroy the Mob. 

Q. On a personal note, what’s your favorite thing about this project?
A. “I love the combination of moral exploration and worldly danger offered by our hero’s predicament,” says Michael Amo. “I sometimes describe the series as a ‘spiritual thriller’ because, at the same time that it quickens the pulse, it also keeps asking the big questions like ‘Why were we put on this earth?’ and ‘How far should a good man go to keep his family safe and rid his community of evil?’ I also love that it’s taken almost 10 years to bring this project to the screen. It has been worth the wait.”

Pure will premiere on CBC Television in early 2017.

Pure is qualified to receive funding through the Nova Scotia Film & Television Production Incentive Fund. Learn more about filming in Nova Scotia and accessing the Nova Scotia Film & Television Production Incentive Fund.

Use our Film Fund Estimator tool to estimate funding available for your Nova Scotia production.