Recently I spoke with Eliot Laurence who is the Creator, Showrunner, and Executive Producer for the new series Motherland: Fort. Salem. He was kind enough to talk about the show and what viewers can look forward to.
Where did the idea for the series arise, as it is a very interesting idea?
I’ve always wanted to do a witch-themed project and one day the military angle landed in my brain, and just opened up a million provocative “what-ifs” that I could not ignore. I just kept following them until I felt like something real was staring back at me from the blank-page abyss of creation.
How did you go about casting and what did each of the leads bring to their roles that made them ideal for their parts?
Casting was incredibly tricky – Tally needed boundless optimism and empathy, Abigail needed forward momentum and the confidence of a military aristocrat, Raelle needed edge and the sense of having lived through a LOT. We were so lucky to find these young women.
At first I thought it would be more of a Young Adult themed series but that went away fast.
How did you balance the adult content such as the sexuality in the show as it does seem to push the envelope at times? What made Freeform the ideal network as the content at times seems very mature for their usual offerings?
Freeform let us be us in such a supportive way. It felt honest to include sexuality in the storytelling, but we wanted to present it in a new way – sex as something that energizes and empowers these young women in a fairly uncomplicated way, in a culture that honors the sacred in the carnal. Maybe because it was about something, it didn’t feel like sex for sex’s sake.
It seems that many of the characters are not who they appear to be at first glance. Will we be going more into the backstories of the mothers or supporting cast or do things focus mainly on the main cast for the time being?
We want to tell everyone’s story, and yes we have great stuff for all the moms in the show. Sometimes it becomes a challenge to find time and space for all that we want to explore, but we try to interweave everything.
Much of your work especially Claws and Motherland: Fort Salem feature very strong and independent woman. To what would attribute the long overdue rise of this trend as it is very refreshing to see. Going forward; what are some of the things we can look forward to?
I think entertainment is reflecting a seismic shift in mass consciousness towards the feminine, which doesn’t necessarily mean that female characters should always be noble and good. I believe creating female characters who are complicated and troubled/troubling is a way to let them be fully human, without apology. But it’s an exciting time for me to be a creator as I find female stories more interesting.
With the current world situation and lack of conventions; has it been harder to publicize the show and has that changed any of your plans going forward?
It’s been a challenge but our network has been in lock step with all the developments and we are doing great. It’s so fun to experience the visceral reaction we’re getting in social media.
I am only a few episodes in but will we see any Warlocks down the line or will it be mainly Witches?
We don’t call them warlocks, but yes, there are male witches in the show. And they are born with the same abilities as our female witches. There are so few of them that they are not allowed to fight – it’s kind of like a reverse beehive where the boys are the precious ones. The males find other ways to support the female soldiers and the Army as a whole.
Where is the show filmed and where were you production wise when things started to be halted?
We shoot in Vancouver and were very lucky to be done with everything, even post, before all the craziness landed.
How have you been handling this time of Isolation?
I have to be honest… in a way this should be a time when I finally catch up on things.. when I tackle that script I’ve never had time to write… but instead there’s a lot of staring into space, and difficulty in focusing. I’m really trying to find the lemonade in all this but so far it’s just weird.
Anything you can share about what is to come?
We don’t know anything official yet about S2, but I have so much I want to explore…. years ago I tried to do this as a book series so I planned out many books so yes there’s a lot… a Civil War.. a World War.. a remaking of the world just for starters!
What do you like to do in your free time?
One nice thing about the lockdown is that I’ve been experimenting with baking bread. Nothing makes the house smell better. I’m living for the day we can hike again… thanks so much for these questions!
Motherland: Fort Salem can be viewed on Hulu, the Freeform channel on cable, or directly on the show page on the Freeform web site.
Gareth is the mastermind behind the popular pop media site Skewed and Reviewed. He lives in Arizona with his wife Em McBride.