In Burden of Truth – season 1, Toronto attorney Joanna Chang (Kristin Kreuk) comes back to her hometown in Manitoba for a case that ends up being nothing like she thought it would be. She has to uncover the layers to reveal the truth behind her work, her family, and everything she stands for. A woman who has to change her views in a story that is bigger than the people involved in it — in a way, Joanna Chang has to learn what it means to be helself. Something that executive producer Kyle Irving and his team at Eagle Vision knew all along.
Executive producer Kyle Irving (right) with director Sherry White and director of photography Thom Best – Photo: Shauna Townley
Expert witnesses – The team
The Canadian drama television series Burden of Truth came into being through the cooperation of several creative minds from different production companies, including executive producers Ilana Frank, Brad Simpson, Kristin Kreuk, Adam Pettle, Linda Pope and Jocelyn Hamilton. In the early stages, Brad Simpson created the show and then started to work with Kristin Kreuk on the creative. Entertainment One then came to the table with Ilana Frank as the lead producer. CBC and Eagle Vision jumped on board this all-Canadian story. While some producers prefer to work on their own, the executive producer at Eagle Vision is pleased that he could join forces with a great team to bring this story to the screen: “We have a terrific relationship with our partners. We are thankful to Entertainment One for our partnership and for the introduction to Ilana Frank, who is one of the great television producers in Canadian television.”
Of course, the first season of a new series is always a challenge, as the producers try to find an identity for the show: “It’s like starting out a fresh sports team, trying to find the chemistry among all the players. It was going to take some time to figure out how all the different parts of the team could work. But now that we’ve found this terrific team in the cast and the crew, producing the next two season has been a joy,” says Kyle Irving.
Star Slade (Luna Spence) and Kristin Kreuk (Joanna Chang) – Photo: Shauna Townley
A law unto oneself – A show like no other
Being a Winnipeg-based production company, Eagle Vision likes to tell stories that are set in their community. Burden of Truth takes place in the fictional town of Millwood, Manitoba, just North of Winnipeg. But this story was also attrative to them because of the values it carried: “We love the idea of having a really a smart serialized drama that was going to afford us an opportunity to share stories that were important, involving social issues that are relevant and current in society, not only in Canada but internationally,” explains Kyle Irving. “Being a partner in a company with Rebecca Gibson and Lisa Meeches – an Indigenous creator from Long Plain First Nation – parity and diversity is always our priority. So the idea of having a strong, powerful, female character was certainly interesting to us. It was a really great opportunity to have important conversations, wrapped in a narrative around the law.”
Indeed Kreuk’s character, lawyer Joanna Chang, is on a transformative journey, exploring issues around past traumas, her own family’s history and the impact of growing up in a small town. It’s about reconciling the mistakes that were made and finding a way to move forward. “We think that every viewer has some connection to these universal themes. Or perhaps they are things that we don’t talk about enough in mainstream television,” believes Irving.
Kyle Irving (right) and James Jewell, Police Consultant – Photo: Shauna Townley
Disturbing the peace – Doing it their way
Following their instinct and sharing a story in line with their values paid off for the team. The production is now in its third season and the series also airs in the United States and in the UK. “This idea that we can’t make Canadian stories for worldwide audiences is foolish,” says Irving. “A mainstream international public has found a great deal of interest in the world that we present on Burden of Truth, set in Manitoba, because it’s a unique perspective on universal storylines, no matter where you’re from.”
The team at Eagle Vision is very proud of the stories they tell, and they have been since their beginning, almost 20 years ago. But it was not always easy to stay true to themselves: “It was a real struggle for the first 10 to 15 years. We had to make commercial content to pay for the social and responsible stories we wanted to share. But we kept at it and now it starts paying off. Lisa Meeches uses an Ojibwe terms called kiojenann, which means that whatever you put out into the world comes back to you in multiples. Eagle Vision’s long-term commitment to the First Nations community has put us in a position to help develop Indigenous talent in the industry and to get those stories out to mass audiences. And that audience is interested.”
Work hard to find your own voice. Make a commitment to stay true to yourself. Share your values with dedication and passion. This is Eagle Vision’s mantra — and the quest of their main character in Burden of Truth. As Kyle Irving says: “An interesting world does not have to be from a foreign country or a far-off planet. It just needs to be something unique, compelling, that has meaning. We work towards sharing more forgotten, or lost, or unheard stories, and we plan to continue doing that for a very long time.” We already know they will.
Kyle Irving (right) and 1st Assistant Camera Jeff Hammberback – Photo: Shauna Townley
Burden of Truth returns for Season 3 on Wednesday, January 8 at 8PM (8:30 NT) on CBC and CBC Gem. US audiences can watch on CW Network and UK fans on Universal TV. Previous seasons are available on CBC Gem and iTunes. You can follow the series on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Kristin Kreuk as Joanna Chang - Burden of Truth, Season 1 - official poster