Thursday, October 27, 2016

An 1880 Mass Murder

There have been eight plays, some popular songs, a feature documentary and a one-man show. But never a dramatic film about the murder in 1880 of five members of the Donnelly family near Lucan, Ontario. That's about to change.

To avoid confusion, Aaron Huggett might want to consider tweaking the title of his forthcoming project Black Donnellys, so as to avoid confusion with the 2007 NBC-TV series of the same name. Per an article in the London Free Press, Huggett envisions two possible films: a 43-minute version, which he can make for $8,000, and a longer feature-length film, which will require around $50,000. It all depends on how much he is able to raise via an Indiegogo campaign.

A vigilante mob killed the Donnellys and set fire to their farm, but no one from that group was convicted for any of the crimes. Two separate trials ended with a hung jury and a not-guilty verdict.

Huggett (pictured) plans on beginning his shoot in February. Among his cast is a business analyst for TD Bank who will play the part of Donnelly family mom Johannah:

"I’m so excited, thrilled and honored to get this role, given the history of the story in this area,” said Judy Cormier, who has appeared in several independent films over the years and is often seen on stage in local theater productions.
"I studied about the Donnellys when I was in school and I remember going on the Shunpiker Tour years ago (the annual Mother’s Day tour of studios and interesting places in the region) and stopping in Lucan and being intrigued by the story."

Huggett has worked closely with several subject-matter experts, including Donnelly historian and author Ray Fazakus. He's also completed a short film, Red Ryan, that mines some no less fascinating Canadian criminal history.

The movie is about Norman Ryan, an habitual criminal whose model behavior as a prisoner helped spark Canadian prison reform. But there were some shocking twists in his life, once he was released early from jail.

[Wikipedia: Black Donnellys]

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