Geoff Morrison is a Toronto-based producer, writer and director, and founder of Big Cedar Films. Working across platforms in fiction, documentary and interactive media, Geoff’s work has screened at festivals and venues around the world including the Berlinale, TIFF, SXSW, BAFICI, Hot Docs, and the MoMA in New York. Recent projects include the CBC doc series, Farm Crime and Brand Canada, and hour-long mystery doc, The Missing Tourist. Past projects include the Banff Award-winning doc, Northwords, and Genie and Gemini Award-winning multi-platform doc series, The National Parks Project.
True crime is a hot genre right now thanks to podcasts like My Favorite Murder and Someone Knows Something and television series like Making a Murderer and The Detectives. But where those—and the genre on the whole—mostly deals with crimes against humans, Big Cedar Films’ Geoff Morrison takes the craze in a different direction.
Morrison, whose latest projects for CBC were Brand Canada and the excellent and creepy “The Missing Tourist,” returns to the network for the six-episode web series Farm Crime. Now available for streaming on the CBC site and app, Farm Crime investigates offences in the world of agriculture and farming. Morrison notes the infamous maple syrup heist of 2011—when 3,000 tons of the sticky stuff was stolen from a storage facility in Quebec—was the inspiration for Farm Crime. Each instalment is free-standing, so I checked out “George of Green Gables” first.
In it, co-producer and director Christina Carvalho tells the tale of PEI oysterman George Dowdle of Green Gables Oysters, who spends his waking hours tending to his oyster crop. Buoys mark each oyster farmers’ plot of water. But, unlike a piece of property being fenced in to stop thieves, there is nothing like that on the water. The result? As George says, an “arsehole” can abscond with tens of thousands of dollars in oysters in a short amount of time. But once such theft in 2016 was particularly tough on George; it occurred at the same time his wife battled brain tumours. Set against the rustic beauty of PEI, George’s story is heartbreaking and horrible as he and partner Andy Black retrace the poaching, capturing the culprit, and its aftermath.
Morrison and his team pack a lot into an episode, managing to not only outline the crime but explore the life of the victim or victims and the legal entities involved. That’s a tough job to do in an episode that clocks in at under 15 minutes, but he does it well.
Other Season 1 stories include pigeon and cattle theft, a black market butcher, a blueberry bandit (this one plays out like a good mystery) and disappearance of five million bees. All six episodes of Farm Crime are streaming on CBC’s website and the CBC App.
Image courtesy of Big Cedar Films.
From a media release:
Big Cedar Films, founded by award-winning filmmaker Geoff Morrison, launched their original digital series, Brand Canada, on the CBC TV app and at CBC.ca/brandcanada today. Part of CBC’s 2017 programming, Brand Canada is a kaleidoscopic exploration of Canada the ‘brand’ – from the artwork and images that first symbolized Canada, through the building and appropriation of a collective identity, to how the country is viewed today. With 10 episodes varying in length from two to six minutes, this unique series covers a broad spectrum of stories relating to Canada’s brand.
Each episode is directed by a notable emerging or mid-career Canadian filmmaker, including shorts from Josh Raskin (I Met the Walrus), Aleysa Young (Baroness Von Sketch Show) and Tess Girard, whose contribution Canada the Good? premiered at Hot Docs this year. The filmmakers incorporated their own unique style, offering varied perspectives as well as creative approaches. Directors were encouraged to choose a filmmaking form that best suited their subject, rather than follow a prescribed series construct. This process fostered creative exploration and experimentation in a highly contemporary format.
Canada the Good?
Directed by Tess Girard
Official Selection: Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, 2017
Simon Anholt, the renowned policy analyst behind the Good Country Index, assesses the international perception of Canada — and whether or not we’re as ‘good’ as we think we are.
Directed by Aleysa Young
A pop culture-fuelled audit of how American TV influences Canada’s brand — through the perspective of the denizens of Mexico City.
Rant & Rave
Directed by Daniel Roher
How a marketing guru inhaled Canadian identity and exhaled a new Canadian pride in Molson’s seminal TV ad, “The Rant.”
The Canadian Dream
Directed by Haya Waseem
A poetic exploration of Canada through the eyes of immigrants, as early impressions of their new home evolve into everyday experience.
Design is a Process
Directed by Randall Okita
An illustrated exploration of the power of Canadian design through iconic images of branding and culture.
Directed by Ryan J. Noth
How the Canadian Pacific Railroad Company created the first vision of Canada as a branded nation.
Meanwhile in Canada
Directed by Josh Raskin and Justin Broadbent
We meet the person responsible for the “Meanwhile in Canada” memes. All of them.
Brand Ambassadors: Drake & Shania
Directed by Geoff Morrison
Canada has a grand tradition of producing global pop superstars, but few of them rep their home country quite like Drake and Shania Twain.
Directed by Ramon Perez and Mike Valiquette
As Trudeaumania returns, can a social media superhero survive the reality of 21st century leadership?
O Canada (Karaoke Video)
Directed by Josh Raskin and Justin Broadbent
A karaoke video of O Canada, featuring ketchup chips.