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Erica Galindo
Celebrating Food, Faith and Family
Last edited on: February 2, 2015.

Based on a novel by New York Times Best-selling author Beverly Lewis, The Confession is the latest project of Brian Bird and his partner in Believe Pictures, Michael Landon, Jr. It is the continuing story of a young Amish woman, Katie Lapp, who goes on a journey in search of her true identity. Katie finds herself entangled in a mystery that must be solved before she can be reunited with the mother who gave her up for adoption at her birth. The Confession is one of many hot irons Believe Pictures has in the fire. A new six-hour miniseries on Jesus called The Nazarene is also in the works.



The Continuing Plot
Katie (Katie Leclerc, current star of ABC’s hit show Switched at Birth), courageously steps out of her Amish community after her painful “shunning” from the only life she’s ever known. She desperately tries to find her birth mother, Laura Mayfield-Bennett (Sherry Stringfield, Dr. Susan Lewis on NBC’s hit drama ER), who is terminally ill with cancer. Laura’s dying wish is be reunited with the daughter she never knew.

Katie humbly works as a servant in her birth mother’s employment. Photo courtesy of Crown Media Holdings/Fred Norris


Laura and her husband, Dylan (Adrian Paul, The Heavy), prepare her estate and will. Dylan, who is drowning in gambling debt, discovers he is merely to receive a small portion of her estate.  He devises a scheme to trick Laura into leaving her fortune to an imposter, an actress he hires to pose as her long-lost daughter.

Laura Mayfield-Bennett introduces the Amish girl (Julia Whelan) she believes to be her daughter to society. Photo courtesy of Crown Media Holdings/Fred Norris

Laura and her husband, Dylan (Adrian Paul, The Heavy), prepare her estate and will. Dylan, who is drowning in gambling debt, discovers he is merely to receive a small portion of her estate. He devises a scheme to trick Laura into leaving her fortune to an imposter, an actress he hires to pose as her long-lost daughter.

Katie’s Amish mother (Sandra Van Natta), who is unable to completely shun her daughter, makes a deal with Katie’s former Amish boyfriend (Cameron Deane Stewart). Photo courtesy of Crown Media Holdings/Fred Norris

Laura, who’s been searching for her daughter since her diagnosis with cancer, is elated to finally be reunited with her daughter. Ironically, she welcomes the imposter into her home and life at the same time Katie discovers her mother’s whereabouts. The unexpected return of Katie’s presumed dead, Amish boyfriend, Daniel, and this case of mistaken identity is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat. Will the imposter end up with Laura’s fortune? Will Laura ever be reunited with her real daughter? Will Daniel and Katie rekindle their love? You can find out when The Confessionpremieres on The Hallmark Channel on May 11th, 9:00 pm PT/ET and 8:00 pm CT. The DVD will be available for purchase on June 11, 2013.
After viewing The Shunning at the Gideon Film Festival in August, 2011, I’ve been counting down the days to see this sequel. The Confession, filmed in Winston-Salem, NC, is the second of three novels of The Heritage of Lancaster County. The series is based on some of the heartbreaking experiences of Beverly Lewis’s maternal grandmother who was raised in a Mennonite community. To enjoy The Confession to the fullest, I suggest watching The Shunning first, which can be rented via Netflix or purchased at your local Christian bookstore or on  Click to purchase

The Dove Foundation and Credits
According to the Dove Foundation, “This movie demonstrates that a movie can be entertaining without featuring a lot of sex, language or violence.” This kind of movie is the trademark of the Hallmark Channel and their focus on wholesome, family-friendly entertainment. Dove gives its approval for all ages. Brian Bird, Maura Dunbar and Michael Landon, Jr., are the executive producers. Michael Landon is the director of this heartwarming script that he co-wrote with Bird.

Laura (Sherry Stringfield) and Katie (Katie Leclerc) share a tender moment as Laura’s cancer continues to spread. Photo courtesy of Crown Media Holdings/Fred Norris

Believe Pictures
Brian Bird and Michael Landon, Jr., co-founded Believe Pictures, a film and television company dedicated to producing wholesome, life- and faith-affirming entertainment. Most recently, they wrote and directed The Ultimate Life, sequel to the best-selling film The Ultimate Gift, and Journey to Jamaa, a true-life African adventure film for the relief organization World Vision. This film was inspired by the true story of Margaret and Derick, two orphaned children from Uganda who make the journey from Kampala to Kasangombe in a heartbreaking bid to overcome poverty and experience hope.

A young African brother and sister make a journey while carrying the remains of their deceased mother. Photo courtesy of Robert Malpage

Believe Pictures has also made two films for Twentieth Century Fox, The Last Sin-Eater based on the novel by Francine Rivers, and Saving Sarah Cain, an adaptation of the book by Beverly Lewis. From 1998 to 2003, Bird served as co-executive producer and writer of the highly acclaimed series, Touched by an Angel, which is known for featuring Biblical truths and its strong appeal to those not seeking God. Bird is known for his ability to create real living, three-dimensional characters that penetrate your heart.

Brian Bird gives a high five to a young African boy while filming Journey to Jamaa. This heartwarming story of overcoming poverty received a 2010 Crystal Heart Award from the Heartland Film Festival. Photo Courtesy of Jon Warren/World Vision

Believe Pictures’ next production is Hallmark Channel’s debut of When Calls the Heart on October 5, 2013.  Based on novels by Janette Oke and set in the Canadian West, the series will begin in January of 2014. It’s the story of a young teacher in 1910 who ventures from the comforts of the city to an unrefined frontier town where she finds a new purpose and romance with a Royal Canadian Mountie.


Another Bible Miniseries

Believe Pictures is also thrilled to announce it has signed a contract with Motion Picture Corporation of America (MPCA) to do a six-hour, 20 million dollar miniseries called The Nazarene. Michael Landon, Jr. recently said in the Hollywood Reporter, “Our version will be traditional . . . true to the gospel . . . yet made for the skeptic, not the believer.” Bird is excited about the idea of helping skeptics to see Christ in a way they have never seen Him before, and in a way that will also be encouraging and inspiring to Christian audiences.


Brad Krevoy of MPCA reveals this project began before The Bible miniseries appeared on The History Channel, but the green light was given after seeing the remarkable success this miniseries by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey received in March. Both Landon and Bird believe their audience continues to hunger and thirst for life- and faith-affirming films. And the passion and God-given calling they feel to meet this need is what keeps their creative juices flowing.

Brian and his wife Patty enjoy a getaway retreat. Photo Courtesy of Cheryl Irwin

A Real Family Man
Brian Bird is one of a growing minority in Hollywood who views his work as a calling and strives to integrate his faith into his God-given vocation.  His dedication to his wife of nearly 33 years and his family is also a rarity in Tinseltown. Although he is grateful for the  few dozen films and 250 episodes of network television he’s written and/or produced, Bird considers his best production to date to be his five children with Patty and their marriage. As active members of Saddleback Church in LA, they lead a small group and serve as volunteers with the High School and Orphan Care Ministries.

The Bird family from left to right: Cameron, Mackenzie, Taylor, Patty, Brian, Meredith and Benson


I was privileged to get to know Brian at the Gideon Film Festival. Recently, I had the chance to talk to him about his career in the film industry.


SCH – This series of movies based on The Heritage of Lancaster County books by Beverly Lewis is dear to your heart. Tell us why.
Brian Bird

My partner, Michael Landon Jr., and I have always loved the idea of finding the universal family themes in the Amish world.  The themes in this series transcend the Amish way of life.

The Shunning was a coming of age story in which Katie Lapp discovers on the eve of her wedding that she was adopted and it creates an identity crisis for her.  Now in the sequel, The Confession, she has a chance to confront those secrets so she can resolve the relationships in her life. All families have to explore the challenge of their children growing up, finding themselves, and defining their own faith. Sadly, all families come loaded with secrets and dysfunction that need to be faced and resolved.


Brian with his two daughters Patty and he adopted from South Korea. They’ve experienced the joy of adoption.


SCH – What was your viewing audience for The Shunning? And what do you anticipate it will be for The Confession?


Brian Bird

The Shunning premiered in May of 2011 to 2.9 million viewers on the Hallmark Channel, and has been seen by millions more through Hallmark repeats, Netflix, and DVD.  We are hoping the big cliffhanger at the end of

The Shunning will bring them back in droves for The Confession.  Our prayer is to top that rating of 2.9 million, by having viewers show up by the “Amish Bushel” on premiere night, May 11.  A strong rating on Saturday will help The Reckoning to be green-lighted.  We will jump on developing the script the moment Hallmark says “go.”


Brian Bird has a gift for using the eye of the camera to inspire his audience. Photo courtesy of Meredith Bird

SCH – Michael Landon, Jr. and you have worked together at Believe Pictures since 2005. Can you share with us your vision?

Brian Bird


Michael and I want to tell stories that are life-and-faith affirming and stir up spiritual cravings in people. We seek those stories that create a hunger and thirst for the truth, wisdom and ideas, what C.S. Lewis called “deeper magic,” that gave birth to western civilization.  We hope to point people toward that truth, not by beating them over the head, but by inspiring them to ask questions that move them closer to God so that pastors and their friends can take them the rest of the way.


MIchael Landon, Jr., and Brian Bird enjoy the moment after filming in Uganda. Photo courtesy of Jon Warren/World Vision

SCH – Tell us how you came to know Christ as Lord and Savior.

Brian Bird
I was raised in a Christian home and my grandfather was a career pastor and my father was a pastor during my childhood.  I always attended church and found Christ as my savior at the age of seven.  It was later as a college student and fledgling journalist that I began asking lots of questions about God and really reaffirmed my faith as an adult.


SCH – How did you get your start in the entertainment industry?
Brian Bird

I’ve been working in Hollywood as a writer-producer for over 25 years.  My first screen credit came in 1984 for ascript I wrote for “Fantasy Island,” when I was just a young pup. I was a working as a newspaper journalist when my wife’s Great Uncle Don Ingalls, a longtime writer-producer, encouraged me to try my hand at writing a script. And I was hooked.  I found writing fictional stories (getting to play God) more fulfilling than writing factual stories.  Writing fictional stories in script form opened my eyes to a whole new of possibilities for my brain.  I’ve been doing it ever since.


Brian Bird, Michael Landon, Jr. and their film crew attempt get into the beat and learn a new skill in Uganda. Photo courtesy of Jon Warren/World Vision

SCH – When did you sense God calling you to make life and faith-affirming entertainment?
Brian Bird
In high school, my sophomore English teacher loved my essay and told me, “Brian, you could do this for a living.”  I submitted the essay to a contest in Southern California and it won third place—a great win for an average wallflower guy like me.

As a senior, I was editor of the school newspaper with my own column. People were commenting positively on my work, and I got a “buzz” out of that. My journalism teacher challenged me to pursue journalism, so I attended Cal State Fullerton. My Uncle Dan Bird, a gifted and highly respected worship leader, encouraged me, “This skill you have is a gift from God. View it as though a musical instrument. Work at it. Practice and be good enough to be in the symphony.”  God used mentors like my teachers and Uncle Dan to light the fuse of my calling to write. God has reaffirmed that calling many times.

One night, I was working on a script and was struggling with writer’s block. I questioned my ability and pleaded to God for help. He impressed upon my soul, “I was a writer, now you be one.”  It was a theophany for me because I began to review all scripture verses that refer to God as an author like John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God and the Word was with God, and the Word became flesh.”

I realized God chose to leave His revelation to us in the form of a big, fat novel.  His story (history) is a narrative through space and time in which we are all characters. The author of the universe had given me, created in his likeness, a tiny strand of his creative DNA. I was to move forward with this highest privilege.  I finished the script and I’ve never had a case of writer’s block again.  Now when I write, I ask God to inspire the words and I do the typing.


SCH – As an advocate for Christians to influence the culture through the arts, what would you like to see happen to advance the cause of life-and faith-affirming entertainment?
Brian Bird
The most important thing is for artists to understand they are created in the image of the author of the universe and start acting like it.  We need to set the bar Michelangelo-high for ourselves on every project. I believe that to make subpar films is actually a sin.  We have a responsibility to God, ourselves and the world to act like God’s image-bearers, become the Michelangelo of our one thing, and pursue it with gusto. If we strive for excellence with our strand of God DNA (gifts) for His glory, not ours, the world would be a lot more heavenly than earthly, and we would advance the world of story-telling and filmmaking at warp speed.


SCH –The audience, however, must affirm these gifts and show up, thereby enabling the financers to keep inspiring entertainment on the air. The audience must play their part, too, which means tuning in on TV or showing up at the box office and patronizing these films.


Click here to watch the official movie trailer for The Confession

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