Jonas Pate: Riding the wave of excitement for ‘Outer Banks: Season 3′ (‘1on1 with Jon Evans’ podcast)
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - How do you top being #1?
That’s the challenge for Jonas Pate, his twin-brother Josh and Shannon Burke, as the three co-creators of the hit show Outer Banks prepare to launch its’ third season on February 23 on Netflix. The second season of the series reached the top spot in Nielsen streaming ratings for several weeks in August of 2021. The young adult drama about a group of friends known as the Pogues became a surprise top-ten show for Netflix during the first season in 2020.
“Remember this thing came out in the middle of a pandemic,” Jonas Pate said when asked why he thinks audiences have connected to the show. “All these poor high school kids were stuck at home without a connection to their friends. I think this whole generation is lonely because of these iPhones, and I think they longed for more human connection. I think that was real in this series. It’s real on-screen. It’s real off-screen between our cast (members) and it bled through into the work. I think that more than anything is what did it.”
The Pates and Burke have had the group of have-nots searching for treasure since the mid-point of the inaugural season. Set in fictional Kildare County, North Carolina, the series began setting up the class divide between main characters John B, J.J., Pope and Kiara (the Pogues) and their rivals, the Kooks. A mysterious shipwreck, family secrets, love interests and the hunt for gold expanded the core group, and took the characters on high-octane adventures that led to where season three begins, with the friends alive, but stranded on a deserted island.
“We are incredibly excited,” said Pate, as he prepared to leave for Los Angeles and the season three premiere. “We feel like it’s our best season yet. It’s going to have a lot of adventure and a lot of friendship. The things that you liked about the first two seasons, if you’re a fan, there’s more of that.”
Pate gives a lot of credit to the young actors who play the central characters on Outer Banks. They were unknowns before the show’s creative team cast them in their current roles, and the veteran filmmaker says it’s been fun to watch the group, Chase Stokes, Madelyn Cline, Madison Bailey, Rudy Pankow, Jonathan Daviss, and Carlacia Grant, rise to every challenge the writers, producers and directors have put in front of them.
For Pate, making Outer Banks reflects many of his own life experiences. Although he was born in Raeford, North Carolina, west of Fayetteville, Pate’s family spent many seasons along the coasts of North and South Carolina. Many of his memories have found their way into the show’s scripts, including the Pogues driving the same kind of car Pate drove in high school. Having the show become so successful, while at the same time carrying such deep personal ties, puts this project in a special place among Pate’s library of television and film work.
“When I was younger, I would really think about what would happen to a project,” Pate said. “I’d worry about, ‘What were the reviews going to be? What was the reception going to be? Was it going to be successful or not?’ And then you get older and you realize that the process is almost more important than the product. As we were making this thing, you know, I grew up in the Carolinas, I grew up in Raeford, I moved out to California for 20 years, I got tired of it, I moved back, and suddenly I’m back home. I’m back where I grew up in the marshes of the Carolina coast, and telling a story that had a lot of overlap with our high school life in Raeford. I just remember thinking, ‘Man, this is awesome! This is just so lucky!’ So, while I didn’t think like, ‘It’s going to be a hit!’ But, I knew it was a special experience, and I think the other cast and crew did too.”
Before he and his family moved to Wilmington prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pate had done a lot of work with the area’s film community. His first two movies, The Grave, released in 1996 and accepted into Sundance Film Festival, and 1997′s The Deceiver, which made the Venice Film Festival lineup, were both shot in Wilmington. He was the Creator and Executive Producer for Surface, the 2005 NBC series which also filmed in the city. The creative team of Outer Banks planned to use the southeastern North Carolina coast as the backdrop for the show’s scenery, but Netflix objected because some aspects of the controversial HB2 legislation were still in place. So, the team pivoted to Charleston, South Carolina.
“If you know the show, all we do is talk about Masonboro and Figure Eight (Island),” Pate said. “We one hundred percent planned it to be here, thought it would be here. At the eleventh hour, we hit this snag of HB2. Most of it had been repealed, but there was a tiny little remnant of it still on the books. Netflix took a strong position they wouldn’t do it unless all laws were inclusive, which we agreed with of course. But I had a lot of family in Charleston, my mom lived in Charleston for a long time. I knew that place well. So that was the second-net place we would have shot.”
Pate shot the pilot for his next project in Wilmington, and he hopes to keep using local crews and locations if it gets picked up by Netflix or another streaming network. He gave me a synopsis of the story.
“It’s about a group of young friends on the eve of high school graduation, that are just in a band for fun,” he explains. “They get a new member at the last second, the music sort of coalesces, and suddenly they all realize, ‘Maybe we shouldn’t go to college or go to work with our dad’s or parent’s business? Maybe we should just throw our lot together and see if this band thing can work?’ That’s basically the pitch. I think what makes it special is we did this search for young musicians all across the country. We had Chase Stokes, who plays John B. in the (Outer Banks) show, put out an APB on his social media for bands. We got five thousand bands sent to us! We picked this guitarist, that drummer, this bass player, we put them together. We’ve had them play and practice for the last two years. They’ve probably played 20 gigs now, and they wrote an album, and they are so good! All their own music. That is just so much fun! We shot it just a couple of months ago in Wilmington, really all over town, and we’re excited to get it out into the world pretty soon.”
I hope you enjoy my conversation with writer/producer/director Jonas Pate. Season 3 of his hit show Outer Banks will be available for streaming on Netflix starting February 23.
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