After the family farm is sold for development, one dog decides he must risk everything to get out of the sprawling city and find a way … bark to the land.
Writer/director: David Geiss
Producers: David Geiss, Maureen Bradley
This film was the thesis project for my screenwriting MFA at UVic, where I studied under NSI grad Maureen Bradley.
One of our assignments was a feature script and I wrote Back to the Land, a story loosely based on my prairie farm upbringing. While working through an umpteenth draft, I decided to do a writing exercise and condense it down to a short film, in the hopes of isolating the main story.
But I also needed to create some distance between my personal memories and the fiction screenplay. I glanced down at the Boston Terrier napping at my feet, and it dawned on me: the story must be told through the eyes of man’s best friend.
I focused attention on the canine hero by removing both dialogue and human faces. By leaving some ambiguity around the reason for selling the farm, it is up to the audience to fill in the blanks with serious contemporary issues of land use – be it pipelines, resource extraction, urban sprawl or mortgage default.
I wanted to highlight the universal sadness and sense of loss that has arisen out of a disconnection from the land beneath our feet.
About David Geiss
David grew up in the 80s and 90s on a fourth generation Saskatchewan homestead in Treaty 4 territory, and now lives in Victoria on the traditional lands of the Coast Salish.
He holds a film and video production BFA from the University of Regina and a screenwriting MFA from the University of Victoria.
His films and documentaries have screened on SCN, APTN, OutTV and at festivals around the world. Queen City won the Best Documentary Award at the Canadian National Youth Film Festival in Ottawa and his follow-up docudrama Stubblejumper appeared at several festivals including Inside Out.
David received NFB support for the short film Basin which screened at dozens of festivals including Hot Docs, FICMA, WNDX and OIL.
In 2013 David directed the Back to the Land episode of OutTV’s Leo Award-nominated documentary series OutSpoken.
His latest project, the canine adventure film Bark to the Land, has played at Short Circuit, Queer City Cinema and the NSI Online Short Film Festival.