Inuvialuit legends are coming to a screen near you, courtesy of the Northwest Terror Stories – a new television series to be created in the NWT.
“It’s like Tales from the Crypt meets The Outer Limits,” explained Dez Loreen, the manager of the Inuvialuit Communications Society (ICS).
The communications society is producing the show. Loreen said APTN has already signed on, in principle, to broadcast the finished product.
“We're going to be telling stories that have been passed on," he said.
“We’re going to be talking to Elders and talking to people in the region to get true stories and get their permission, and work with them on how we can adapt that for television."
Loreen said he plans to tell stories that have not yet been shared outside the region, including tales about sea spirits, miniature people, and everything in between.
In the show, the stories will be told by a grandfather to his granddaughter. While they will focus on the paranormal, they will also include the lessons of traditional stories.
At the moment, the team is writing and collecting stories for a 13-episode first season.
The crew plans to shoot a pilot episode within the next few weeks and the remaining episodes by the end of the summer.
The communications society is aiming to release the episodes, which are to be 30 minutes long, in the summer of 2020.
Loreen said casting calls will be publicized soon, looking for talent across the territory.
“It is going to be a very big project … we’re always looking to work with people," he said.
“I'm really hoping that we can learn and build on the NWT's already great talent pool through this.”
A language resurgence
The series will be filmed in English, but each episode will feature Inuvialuit subtitles.
“As content creators, I think we have a responsibility to bridge that gap,” said Loreen, discussing the incorporation of Indigenous languages into the mainstream.
“Being Inuvialuit myself, I’ve got a vested interest in learning the tradition and learning the language," he continued.
“We're seeing a real resurgence of this language, a real interest in people working with the language."
Foraying into fiction
“I’ve been making short horror films for a long time,” said Loreen, who was inspired by the Dead North Film Festival in which he participates each year.
“I thought it'd be really cool if we had a vehicle to tell these scary stories in a bigger sort of format."
In the past, the ICS has only produced documentary programming.
“What we’re looking at doing this year is breaking into fiction," Loreen said, adding this is, to him, another form of oral storytelling – a part of Inuvialuit culture.
Northwest Terror Stories isn’t the only Dead North-inspired TV show set to emerge from the NWT.
In April, festival founders Pablo Saravanja and Jay Bulckaert announced a Dead North TV show.