News / Vancouver

New movie about serial killer Robert Pickton and his victims to begin shooting in Vancouver

A new movie about Canada's worst serial killer, Robert “Willie” Pickton, begins filming in Vancouver on March 4.

The movie is being produced for CBC TV and is being filmed under the working title Full Flood. It is based on the book, On the Farm, by author Stevie Cameron.

According to a production note obtained by Metro, which was sent to families of Pickton's victims, the focus of the movie will not be Pickton but the lives of the women who disappeared from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and whose remains were found during an 18-month search of Pickton's farm in Port Coquitlam that began in 2002.

The movie production has hired Doreen Manuel to do “community outreach” with the families of Pickton's victims.

“As we embark on this project, one of our foremost concerns is to ensure that we are telling this story in a manner that is sensitive and respectful to those who have had to live through this tragedy,” Manuel said in a note to families, which was obtained by Metro.

“While taking its cue from the book ‘On The Farm’, our movie will be telling the story of fictional characters, specifically women of the Downtown East Side, set against the background of the events of 1995-2001. This is not a movie about Mr. Pickton. While he is referenced and appears in a few scenes, this is not a story about him – rather it’s a story about life in the Downtown East Side as seen and experienced by the people who lived and worked there during that time.”

Manuel’s note added: “Our aim is to make their story better understood by the widest possible audience, to stimulate discussion -- and hopefully, change.”

Manuel told the families that a website was being set up to discuss the issues, and a Facebook page has been established to provide discussion, which will only be accessible to family members and the filmmakers.

The movie’s producer is Rupert Harvey and the director is Rachel Talalay, a University of British Columbia film professor who directed last year's final episodes of the British TV series Doctor Who.

“If CBC does a movie, I trust it will be true to the lives of the women who vanished from the Downtown Eastside, and with due regard to their surviving family members,” said Ernie Crey, whose sister Dawn Crey was one of Pickton's victims – her DNA was among the DNA of 33 women found on Pickton's farm, but no charges were laid related to Dawn Crey's death.

Ernie Crey, an advisor to the Sto:lo Tribal Council, was attending Friday's National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women in Canada, which will be attended by provincial and federal cabinet ministers.

Pickton was initially arrested in 2002 and charged with the first-degree murder of two women. As the search continued on the Pickton farm, he was eventually charged with the murder of 26 women.

The trial judge, feeling a murder trial involving 26 murders would be too complex and lengthy for a jury, split the 26 counts into two trials, with the first trial hearing evidence concerning six counts of first-degree murder.

After Pickton was convicted in 2007 of six murders, the Crown elected not to proceed on the remaining murder counts.

Pickton's trial heard the serial killer confess to an undercover officer, posing as a cellmate, that he killed 49 women.

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