September 29, 2009

Blackstone TV pilot

Blackstone:  Story Synopsis

One-Hour Dramatic Television PilotBlackstone is a one hour television series pilot, telling the story of a community suffering disintegration by its own hand--a result of the corruption, mismanagement and nepotism of its Chief and Councillors; and the parallel complicity of the silent bandmembers.

A fire at the Blackstone Reserve sets the stage, claiming the life of three band members. The suspicious circumstances of the tragedy compel bandmember Victor Merasty to turn his focus from videotaping the band’s history and cultural traditions to using his camera to document the reserve’s entrenched ‘culture’ of corruption.

Bandmember Leona Stoney lives off-reserve, by choice; an addictions counselor in the city, she removed herself from the vicious cycle of dependency that is reserve life…but continues to do follow-up work on the reserve and visits her family who is still there--her sister Gail, and her niece Natalie.

Unanswered questions about the real cause and purpose of the fire lead to an occupation of the Band Office. Chief Andy Fraser attempts to quash the allegations by holding a Band Meeting reporting the results of the official fire investigation, which exonerate him.

Having watched the news report of the occupation Leona returns to Blackstone for the Band Meeting. During her visit to Blackstone, while at Gail’s, Leona takes note of the telltale signs of Natalie’s continuing gas-sniffing habit. Gail has a serious alcohol addiction and Leona can’t help but judge Gail for the poor example she is setting for Natalie.
Local TV drama tackles reserve corruptionThe wind whipped past the weathered barns and old trailers on a set just north of Edmonton, catching the dust and stinging actors' eyes. The overtly political drama being filmed could also stir up something that carries a sting. Carmen Moore worries the one-hour pilot, being filmed to run on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, could ruin her career. "I'm in a little bit over my head, like, what am I doing?" said the lead actor, hiding from the wind in a decommissioned dairy barn. "Am I tying my own noose here?" Edmonton screen writer Gil Cardinal calls Blackstone a fact-based fiction, a story about warped band politics....Comment:  "Blackstone, a world-famous magician, visits an Indian reserve and makes its problems disappear with a wave of his magic wand." Er, never mind.

Blackstone appears to be a grim but realistic look at life on a troubled rez. As opposed to, say, SCALPED, which goes way over the top in its depiction of murder, crime, and gang warfare.

Whether the series continues to be this conflict-oriented or adds uplifting human elements to the mix remains to be seen. A purely negative portrayal could become stereotypical.

Blackstone's cast includes Carmen Moore, Nathaniel Arcand, Eric Schweig, Gordon Tootoosis, and Michelle Thrush. So it seems to be an A-list Native production.

But not all pilots get aired, of course. This one looks controversial enough that APTN and other networks may hesitate to air it.

For more on the subject, see TV Shows Featuring Indians.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We haven't missed an episode of Blackstone, feel it is well done, and hope it continues.

One production comment: the constant strain of music over all could be very effective in maintaining a slightly ominous and edgy tone to the action, but it's a little too loud and becomes an irritation.