The story behind Abducted

People ask “how long have you been working on this film?” In the broadest sense, we could say this has been in development for years. Technically, Sharlene and Dan have been creating short films together for 8 years and with each short film, we have learned more about the art of filmmaking and how to produce a high quality project even with a low budget.

Our short film “A Raven’s Song” was a thread from the original concept for this feature film. Our short animated series “Raven Adventures” included an episode called “Raven Goes Fishing” which garnered the top animated short film award at the American Indian Film Festival. It was this win which propelled our team to receive financial backing for a feature film through Canada’s Telefilm “Talent to Watch” funding stream.

The bones of this story started with a seed many years ago when Dan envisioned a tale about an Indigenous boy who was living in poverty and who needed to help his family. Included in this original concept were strong women (his grandmother and a gang leader). Dan was also learning more about his Metis culture and he and Sharlene spent time attending some amazing cultural and spiritual events and celebrations, including community pow wows, smudges, and the Lac Ste. Anne pilgrimage.

Derrick is young, naïve, talented, and protected by his grandmother and sister. There are no strong male role models in his life. His story is inspired by the many young males who are being raised without strong role models, and the lack of rites of passage that young men once went through. Especially in Indigenous culture, these rites and rituals were essential for boys to experience physical, mental and spiritual challenges to prepare them for manhood. Derrick’s character arc is from an unsure boy into a man who is intent on saving the world.

Each character in this film has a well-researched story and each story is worthy of its own film. Kokum is a survivor of the residential schools. Dan and Sharlene attended many Truth and Reconciliation events and spent time with men and women who shared their experiences from their time in residential schools. The stories that were shared were heart-wrenching and inspirational. We also spent time learning from elders and storytellers about Indigenous culture, history and worldview. All of this information was pulled together to form the backstory for Derrick’s grandmother.

Lakota and Lisa are members of an all-woman gang. In our research, we spoke to members of the Edmonton Police Service gang and major crimes units. We spoke to women who had been in gangs and heard stories about what life in urban gangs is like. We learned how women in gangs differ from men, and the roles they play. We also learned how the men and women in the police service and in social agencies work hard to keep women living at risk safe.

Our research also took us into the darkness of the world of serial murderers. We talked to the RCMP about their research and investigations into the missing and murdered women in the Edmonton area. We learned that there is a killer (or killers) who prey on women who “won’t be missed” if they disappear … those living at risk lifestyles including runaways, prostitutes and gang members. We also researched the psychopathic and sociopathic characteristics of serial killers, in addition to learning about brain injury and treatments. It is from all this research that our main antagonist, Tyson, evolved.

We created a trailer in 2018 called “The Horned Serpent” where the beginnings of our killer emerged. This original concept had an underlying theme of the Horned Serpent and Thunderbird mythologies. Due to budget constraints this theme was discarded for the feature film.

While the story is entirely fictional, there is much that is based on fact.

It is our hope that the world will not forget about the men and women who go missing on a weekly basis and that we do not stop trying to make our world a safe place for everyone. Each person who has gone missing has or is a mother, daughter, son, grandchild … someone who is loved and mourned.