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Behind the Scenes: Netflix’s “Maid”

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According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), roughly 10 million people suffer from domestic violence in any given year. The story of even just one individual can increase awareness about this issue while simultaneously helping prevent it from happening to more people. The recent Netflix Original series, Maid, can be that story.

Erin Jontow is President of Television at John Wells Productions, her latest project being a Netflix Original limited series titled Maid, where she worked as an executive producer. This show is a powerful narrative of a woman doing her best to provide for herself and her daughter in a world that is out to get her. Inspired by the story of Stephanie Land, the show shows us the world through the eyes of Alex Langley, a victim of domestic violence and it shows just how little support is provided and how hard it can be to escape. Much of the show draws influence from Stephanie Land’s life, however some key details were changed — such as names  for the sake of the story and in respect for the people involved in the actual events. 

As one of the producers, Erin’s responsibilities varied. She worked with Margot Robbie’s production company, Lucky Chap, to obtain the book rights for Maid, which “was a really competitive title.” Erin pitched a general idea and vision for the show to Stephanie Land and ended up landing the rights. Erin then contacted a writer that John Wells Productions had worked with in the past, Molly Smith Metzler. Upon reading the book, Metzler came up with a plan for the series and the team began pitching it to different buyers before settling on Netflix. 

Once Netflix was chosen, the process of “casting, finding writers, hiring directors and seeing cuts” began. Erin’s job at that point was more to, “support the creative team involved, and then a liaison with the network, in this case Netflix.” She would pass on necessary information to the writers and directors both during filming and after the show has been aired with awards and publicity campaigns. 

Maid’s production took “two to two and half years,” although it slowed down slightly due to COVID-19. Originally the production crew planned to have some “exterior scenes in Port Townsend which is where Stephanie’s memoir takes place.” However, due to travel restrictions, they were unable to manage that, and had everything filmed in Victoria, British Columbia. Production did have some local crew in Missoula film some minor shots that take place here in the city. 

Maid handled numerous sensitive topics, such as domestic violence. This could have made filming difficult due to the the emotional toll and the rules the company were required to follow. Throughout the show, there are moments where Sean, Alex’s abusive boyfriend, lashes out at Alex. This on its own is a difficult thing to see, however the production crew had to take extra care when filming because “from a production point of view, you’re not allowed to have a child actually witnessing certain things.” 

In Erin’s words, “we always felt we were doing something special, but you are kind of working in a vacuum, when you’re the only people seeing the episodes, the only people seeing the scripts etc.” The biggest accomplishment in her mind was how well received the show has been and how much people seem to have learned from the story.

If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic violence or you want to learn more, John Wells Productions and Stephanie Land partnered to make a resource that is available for people in need, Maid Resources

About the Contributor
Harper Jontow, Editor
I guess I’m an editor. Good luck y'all