Creators of a film noir whodunit, set to unspool in instalments on the web and in Toronto's subway system, hope to ensnare commuters and mystery fans.
Billed as a "murder mystery for commuters," Murder In Passing kicks off on Monday with the debut of its first silent, 30-second episode on the Toronto Transit Commission's subway platform screens.
Written and directed by Toronto filmmaker, video artist and film professor John Greyson, Murder In Passing follows a detective who uncovers a conspiracy while investigating the murder of a bike courier in a B.C. town that happens to be packed with suspects.
The cast of the serial tale includes Canadian actress Arsinée Khanjian, who portrays the fictional town's anti-bike mayor. Themes tackled in the silent story include transit, gender issues and greenwashing.
"We purposely set it in a fictional city, so that we'd have freedom to be a story that was about everywhere, not tied to a particular place," Greyson told CBC News.
"Every city is struggling with how to have bicycles in their downtown. Every city is struggling with issues around transgender and, as transgendered people become more and more public, how are they integrated fully into the world we live in? These are issues that affect every city."
Murder In Passing is inspired by precedents from popular British murder mysteries to The Singing Detective and David Lynch's drama serial Twin Peaks. In a new twist however, the creators will share the story as well as clues and hints about the case across multiple media streams.
Along with the 30-second silent-film episodes unveiled each weekday (replaying every 10 minutes on the subway track-level screens), audience members can track the story, evidence and clues via Twitter (@MurderIP) and Facebook, in the daily newspaper Metro or follow along at the Murder in Passing website, which will also feature blog posts and a space to trade theories with others.
"The excitement of reaching a public that is this huge and engaging them over a series of not just days, but weeks — we're doing 42 episodes over the course of two months — it's an extraordinary opportunity," Greyson said.
The ambitious project, in the works for several years, also incorporates daily operatic fugues composed by Toronto's David Wall and embedded with musical clues.
The Toronto production culminates on March 1, with plans to travel west to Edmonton for another edition.