Victoria actor

Victoria actor

Holly-wichan: TV show Dark Waters of Crime comes to town

Lake Cowichan might not feel like Hollywood but last week the area was treated to some glitz.

  • Nov. 14, 2011 2:00 p.m.

Lake Cowichan might not feel like Hollywood but last week the area was treated to some glitz and glamour as the Canadian-made television series Dark Waters of Crime was shot on Vancouver Island.

The show is produced by B.C. company Red Letter Films for Canal D, a Francophone broadcaster, and also airs on the Oprah Winfrey Network Canada but is broadcasted in Canada by the Francophone company Canal D. Dark Waters boasts a similar concept to 1990s documentary reenactment series’ Emergency 9-11 and Unsolved Mysteries. However, Dark Waters comes with a liquid twist.

“They’re all stories where water is a major accomplice and they’re all told from the point of view of the investigation so every story starts with a murder,” said the Dark Waters’ producer, Sylvie Peltier.

Peltier, 51, has been in the film industry since 2000 and has produced 25 hours of aired TV footage. A White Rock-based producer, Peltier is responsible for overseeing Dark Waters’ cast of roughly 40 actors and 45 film crew.

“It’s all from the point of view of the detectives that were involved in the story, how they found out about it and what they did to get the murderer,” she added.

Peltier said the role water plays in the murders being documented is what makes the series so intriguing.

“Water is very important because it destroys all evidence and makes the investigation that much more difficult,” she added. Not only does water muddle investigations, it also makes filming that much more difficult.

“We actually lost a camera which was soaked because its underwater housing failed,” she described.

In its fifth season, Dark Waters shoots three one-hour long episodes per season. The crew of Dark Waters first interviews detectives involved in the cases the show is reenacting. Dark Waters’ writers then plot out the script. Peltier stressed maintaining each case’s accuracy is important.

This season’s episodes documented crimes involving a lake, river and ocean. Peltier thought Cowichan Lake-area proved an ideal spot for filming.

“We like working here. The people are great and where else could we find ocean, river and lake within thirty minutes of each other?” said Peltier.

Raymond Wear, a Honeymoon Bay resident noticed Dark Waters’ film crew at Robertson River on Nov. 7 and decided to stick around to watch.

“We don’t get stuff like that here. It was interesting. It’s places that you know and places that you’ve grown up with so it’s kind of cool,” said the 55-year-old maintenance and security guard. Wear was astounded at the film crew’s meticulous attention to detail and length of time it took to set up shots.

“On one scene they set up for a good hour and a half just to shoot a 30-second scene,” he added. 

Two of the fifth season’s reenactments involves a B.C. case. One tells the story of Heather Thomas, who was abducted by Shane Ertmoed from her Surrey home in Cloverdale in 2000.

This portion of the episode was filmed in Gordon Bay Provincial Park.

Weeks after disappearing, her body was discovered in Alouette Lake. A synopsis of the case provided by Peltier indicated that Ertmoed strangled the 10-year-old before disposing of her body first in a nearby forest, and then into the lake.

Ertmoed was found guilty in 2002 thanks in part to work done by Dr. Ralph Matthews, a biological sciences professor at Simon Fraser University, who linked plant debris found in the victim’s hair to the residence of the perpetrator. Ertmoed is serving a maximum life sentence with no chance for parole until 2027.

Christian Stewart is a Victoria actor who plays constable James Birtch in Dark Waters’ reenactment of a murder that happened in Ontario’s Carleton Place in 1994.

Stewart’s character, Birtch, is a veteran police officer in the small Ontario town. The case involved Gary Samuels and his wife, Barbara Lanthier, who overturned their pickup truck in a river near Carleton Place. Samuels was rescued, while Lanthier drowned.

Closely acquainted with the couple, Christian’s character, Birtch begins to investigate the accident, learning that the husband is responsible for murder in an attempt to commit insurance fraud. As a close friend of the accused, Stewart’s character is put in a tough position.

“I’m a conflicted cop because it’s my good friend. I know these people socially so I’m upset as everybody else but I have to do my job as a police officer so I have to start investigating and   ask what’s going on,” Stewart said.

The truck-in-the-water scene proved troublesome for Peltier and her crew.

“When filming at Robertson River, we needed to show an upside down truck in the river. We had to pay for an environmental impact study that led to the refusal to grant us a permit to film with a vehicle in the river. We ended up renting a pool to film this part,” said Peltier.                                                                                                                                               Dark Waters’ script is fairly loose and all lines are adlibbed by the show’s actors because their voices are not used in the broadcast version. Stewart thinks this adds an interesting dynamic.

“It’s kind of a fun part to play because there’s no real script so we have to act things out in context. As an actor I like that, because you don’t have to remember word for word script which is sometimes the toughest part of it. Sometimes I feel like that makes for more natural dialogue,” he added.

The episodes of Dark Waters shot in the Cowichan Lake-area will air in November 2012 on Canal D. Some Vancouver Island cable-providers have Oprah Network Canada and air Dark Waters regularly.

 

 

Just Posted

From left: Thomas Kuecks, David Lane, John Ivison, Denis Berger, Rod Gray, and James Kuecks are Cabin Fever. Catch their performance on the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre website. (Ashley Foot photo)
A&E column: Music Festival winners, CVAC awards, and Cabin Fever

The latest from the Cowichan Valley arts and entertainment community

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
Cowichan Valley MLA Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

BC Green Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

The city-owned lot at 361 St. Julien St., which has been home to a temporary homeless site for more than a year, will be sold and plans are to build a three-storey mixed-use development there, Peter de Verteuil, Duncan CAO explained at a recent council meeting. (File photo)
New development planned for homeless site in Duncan

Lot on St. Julien Street would see three-storey building

Historian and longtime Citizen columnist T.W. Paterson photographs the historical wreckage of a plane on Mount Benson. Paterson recently won an award from the British Columbia Historical Foundation. (Submitted)
Cowichan’s Tom W. Paterson wins award for historical writing

British Columbia Historical Federation hands Recognition Award to local writer

This electric school bus is the newest addition to the Cowichan Valley School District’s fleet. (Submitted)
Editorial: New electric school bus good place to start

Changing public transit like buses to electric really is important.

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada: UVic professor

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

Most Read