Dark Highway

Toronto, Canada | Film Feature


Anna Jane Edmonds

1 Campaigns | Ontario, Canada

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This campaign raised C$22,626 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

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Dark Highway is a documentary about the industry of sexploitation and trafficking along the 401 corridor. Through the lens of a bystander, audiences will be engrossed in an investigation to uncover the ways traffickers lure victims, how the highway is used to hide the crime, and how we can help.

About The Project

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Mission Statement

As a storyteller I have a responsibility to bring audiences content that is compelling, enriching and inspiring. Dark Highway will give audiences a front row seat in my investigation of sex trafficking in ON and leave people with the tools and information to be conscious advocates for change.

The Story


Dark Highway is a documentary about human and sex trafficking in Ontario, Canada. The story will unfold in multiple layers, exposing the pimps and buyers who keep the market of human trafficking alive. The film examines Highway 401 as the centrepiece and main character. It is the busiest highway in North America with more than 500,000 vehicles a day and for Ontarians it is a fixture in our daily lives. The 401 is also a corridor used to move victims from one location to another; it's used to allow traffickers to jump jurisdictions of the law and evade capture; and it is also a tool used to maintain the anonymity of buyers. 

The film is led by a Guide (me!) who grew up in Kingston, ON right off the 401 and moved along the highway to Toronto and then London to attend Western University. The film will travel the 401 and use the highway to serve as the connecting thread that ties the themes and elements of the film together; uncovering the darkness that exists among all of us.


This documentary will tell the stories of vulnerable and abused children and women who have been trapped in the cycle of sex trafficking along the 401. Their stories will be brought to the surface through the use of integrative media, sweeping cinematic shots of the highway married to the rogue and impromptu interviews with the people who work to expose and bring an end to trafficking in Canada. 

There are scores of young women and children lured into trafficking in Ontario, on average a victim is thirteen years old. Children in Ontario are having their youths stripped from them and this documentary will expose and bring forward the stories of how they are roped into the crime and where the public can step in and be conscious activists. We will film first-hand accounts from victims, survivors, social agencies, police and small-town Ontario families tortured by this dark reality.


The story will be rooted in a “heat map,” a technology used by Digital Predator Profiler Matt Richardson to identify the areas with the highest density of demand for purchased sex. The film will use this map to travel from hotspot to hotspot, meeting up with local and regional police officers, journalists and survivors who will contextualize why the towns along the highway are more dangerous for victims than ones that the 401 does not touch. It is important to note that this is not a film about sex work or sex workers, the heat map is used as a tool to back trace ads to uncover who is being unwillingly controlled by an external force and how the ads are used to sell them. The heat map will also show how the 401 is linked to the amount of ads in any given place. 

The presence of social media and technology are integral to the film. Because these platforms (Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat) have become primary tools used by predators, the film will use these interfaces to supplement the story. By layering in the various mediums, audiences will be brought into phones and computers as if they themselves are researching on their own. The film will investigate the physical and the virtual side of trafficking, leave no question unanswered about who the predators are, who the buyers are and how victims are lured, groomed, exploited. 


This film will draw out the facts about sex trafficking in Ontario while showing the human element behind the headlines. At any given point there are 17,000 people currently enslaved in this country. Our government knows it. The police know it. The media knows it. A quick Google search and you can know it, too. And yet children are being lured and trapped into sex trafficking every single day and sellers and buyers are getting away with it. Though the statistics are harrowing, it is the human experience and apparent ignorance that makes Dark Highway unique in its approach and intention. The film will explore questions such as what draws a trafficker into the industry? How easy is it to purchase trafficked individuals? How come it is so hard to prosecute? Why is is to easy to pretend it isn't happening?! Exploring the complexities of the crime including the formal, informal and complacent network involved is central to bringing this film to life.

Furthermore, the film will feature and address the impact human trafficking has on Indigenous women and girls, as this community is at a greater risk than any other in Canada. The inclusion (with permission of the communities we engage) of their stories, their paths and approaches to prevention, awareness, and recovery is imperative and defining. Interviews and experience sharing with Indigenous individuals who are willing to participate will be a foundational componenet to the film.

Dark Highway will remove the false narratives that exist around sex trafficking and ground the stories in the audiences’ hometowns. By showing audiences how easy it is to be stalked, lured and exploited online, the film will creep into audiences’ everyday awareness of their virtual footprint as they, inadvertently, become conscious advocates.


My name is Anna Jane Edmonds. I've been making films since highschool and have always been drawn to tell stories that challenge people's perception of reality. It is very easy in life to see only within our own bubbles, our own groups and our own understanding of life. As a storyteller I feel a great amount of responsibiility to draw out the stories that often go unnoticed or unheard. This topic hit home in a very literal way: I grew up along the 401, I thought I knew the highway.  I had no idea how engrained the 401 was in the business of trafficking and I had no idea how many girls like me were pulled into trafficking as children. 

At university I studied how narrative film has the ability to affect audience's capacities to understand and interact with real information -- once something is made into fiction, does it become less real in the day to day? Trafficking is a topic that I fear has become fiction, something that only happens overseas in more 'dangerous' places. If you are like me, you saw Taken and imagined being saved by Liam Neeson or you imagined being Liam Neeson, saving your child from the 'bad guys.' With Dark Highway I want to give you the tools to be the Liam Neeson in a child's life, because there are a lot of children who need us right now. 


The pandemic has made filmmaking more challenging than ever before, however as filmmakers we are used to pivoting and adjusting to new circumstances so I am confident we will be able to tell this story if COVID-19 restrictions are still in place. With the advancement of testing (both PCR and Antigen) as well as vaccine rates, production will ensure all crew and participating individuals are being safe in their interactions. The production team behind the film has been fortunate to work throughout 2020/2021 and are able to maintain industry standard practices to ensure everyone's safety.


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Equipment Rental

Costs C$5,000

Renting the camera, audio and lighting equipment.

Hiring Crew

Costs C$10,000

Hiring the best team members to join me on the project.

Travel Expenses

Costs C$2,500

Travel is a key component to the story. This will cover gas and other travel costs.

Cash Pledge

Costs C$0

About This Team

AnnaJane (AJ) Edmonds is a creative professional with experience both in front of and behind the camera as a researcher, producer and performer. She has a deep interest in pursuing, unraveling and profiling issues of global significance. Having grown up along the Kingston - London 401 corridor, she is keenly aware of the role this highway plays in our daily lives.

Her fascination with the 401 was triggered by her regular commutes from her hometown of Kingston to Western University in London, where she graduated with the highest distinction with a degree in Media and Public Interest.

After several years in Ontario’s independent film industry, she was accepted into the competitive Producer’s Program at the University of California, Los Angeles.

She is an outspoken advocate for human rights, equality and inclusion in the creative industry and is focused on stories that make a difference.


Current Team