To solve a brutal crime in the frozen wilderness, a rookie police officer must uncover an isolated community’s long-buried secrets while confronting her own dark past. THIN ICE is a character-driven dramatic web series currently in development that will run over six 15-minute episodes.
The bleak early northern light rises on a pair of fur-trimmed mittens, frozen to the edge of a crack in the ice. The lake is large and long and scoured by wind. The body of Shelley Beemer is submerged below the surface. Shelley’s on-and-off-again boyfriend lies 10 meters away, frozen, under a spruce tree at the edge of the lake. No-one in the town will talk openly, but behind doors some say it may have been an accident. Others think it’s a murder suicide.
The real answer is just plain murder.
Amy is a rookie police officer whose first posting lands her in Gladstone, a rural Yukon town where the reception is as frosty as the biting northern wind. Amy has tattoos under her uniform and a past she’s determined to forget. For a long time her life was off the rails, but since her father’s untimely death she’s resolved to straighten up, get married, join the force and live where things are simple. Except they never are.
When Amy arrives in Gladstone, the tiny town is reeling from the death of a local woman and her companion in what may have been an accident, but what many think is a murder suicide. It’s Amy’s job to find the truth. Her only allies are her commanding officer, Doug, and Jeremiah, a young two-spirited hotel clerk who’s walking a line between genders and cultures. Amy’s not sure she can trust either of them, but if she doesn’t learn to trust someone – even herself – she’ll never solve the mystery.
In this Northern town, where the reception is as icy as the frozen landscape, Amy must scramble to uncover long-submerged secrets while holding fast to her own.
Shot on location in the Yukon, the austere lighting and frozen scenery reflects the beauty of the harsh, desolate and sometimes claustrophobic world Amy faces in Gladstone. The Yukon landscape is as much a character as anyone on the show; the stark scenery provides a fitting metaphor for the extremes Amy faces in Gladstone.
The town of Gladstone is small and rough. The First Nations community is set back from the highway, down an unpaved road. The homes of the white people – the police, the nursing station staff, the teacher and one or two long-term locals – straddle the highway. The Tatler Arms hotel, an oddly grand structure on an isolated highway, is the hub of the community. It is hotel and gas bar, and also contains a small bar with pool table and a poorly-stocked shelf of supplies.
The show is framed and filmed in contrasts. Wide-angle shots of the expanse of frozen lake, the tiny town clinging to the endless highway alternate with narrow macro-view scenes: cracks splintering across a frozen lake, blowing snow on the surface of the highway, frost on a window, to emphasize the claustrophobic nature of the town.
There are moments of dark humour: the grocery store’s odd provisions, stocked with apparent cruelty by the owner; the half-sinister acts of local misfit Joe Cleary; strangers’ double takes at Jeremiah’s gender tricks. The characters are compelling because they don’t do what you expect; yet their actions are real and raw. Amy is smart and knows what’s right and wrong, but when faced with the safe and the sinister, she’s never trusted herself enough to know the difference. In Gladstone she can’t lean on anyone really, not even her own husband.
With the regional quirk of Fargo and the unforgettably strong characters of The Fall, Thin Ice is a riveting study of the lengths that a person can go to keep themselves hidden and the tragic consequences when a community buries a tragic secret. It’s the characters that will grip you: Amy, consumed by the desire to do the right thing, terrified of being exposed as flawed, or worse, as broken.
There are no stereotypes here. These characters don’t do what you expect; yet when they act, it feels so real it hurts. Trust is a theme, racial and sexual politics, the personal and the political. Both the legacy of past wrongs and the surprisingly contemporary can be found in the far reaches of Canada’s North. The result is a series that’s eye-openingly relevant and utterly riveting.
Kelly Milner – Producer
Kelly is an emerging Yukon producer. She has recently completed SHIFT, a half-hour documentary exploring how aboriginal youth are reconnecting to their land and and rebuilding their economy by making their community into a world-class mountain bike destination. The film is receiving rave reviews and has been chosen for the Banff Film Festival World Tour. She founded Shot in the Dark Film Productions in 2015.
Kirsten Madsen – Writer
Kirsten is a writer based in Whitehorse, Yukon. Her story, Mule Deer, was runner-up for the 2015 CBC Short Story Prize. Her fiction has been published in Prairie Fire and The New Quarterly. She was a finalist in the Writers Union of Canada short story competition in 2011 and 2015. She has an MFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia, where she studied fiction and screenwriting. Her thesis novel was shortlisted for the 2013 HarperCollins Canada / UBC Prize for Best New Fiction.