The Boy in the Blue Cap: The Gerard Ross Story (AUS) is an eight-part documentary directed and produced by award-winning Australian journalist Kristin Shorten, forensically documenting one of Western Australia’s most enduring and heartbreaking mystery behind the disappearance and death of 11-year-old Gerard Ross.
This article was adapted from Kristin Shorten’s article from The West Australian, as directed by the creator.
How did you first come about the Gerard Ross case, how long have you covered it for?
In April 2019 [I] began retracing Gerard’s life and tracking down everyone connected to the 11-year-old’s case. Some – including witnesses, murder suspects and former detectives – agreed to speak publicly for the first time. WA Police then agreed to give their first interview about the investigation and Gerard’s traumatised family reluctantly shared their story for the first time in 22 years.
What were some of the challenges you faced when creating the web series?
Our small team overcame many obstacles during production and post-production including changing camera-person mid-project, shooting in various international locations on a small budget, negotiating police involvement, gaining access to the only known crime scene and filming last-minute interviews (remotely via speakerphone) right up until just days before publication.
There were also legal issues, family sensitivities and ethical dilemmas to contend with while trying to keep the project under wraps for six months.
When the Ross family finally agreed to participate [Matt and I] scrambled to Scotland and Qatar to film their interviews before they changed their minds – blowing out costs and deadlines.
Communication with Gerard’s parents before arriving in the UK was limited while Gerard’s traumatised brother – the last person to see him alive – would not commit to participating until we met in Doha, where we had only 24 hours on the ground.
Due to laws prohibiting filming in Qatar we condensed our equipment for the entire trip to an amount that a tourist might carry and could not film in public.
And when we landed in Edinburgh for these most crucial interviews, [I] was suffering from laryngitis with a side of morning sickness as [I] was about 11 weeks pregnant.
What was the post-production process like?
Following filming, [I] directed editing from Darwin while Jude cut and enhanced each episode from Perth in a back-and-forth over weeks.
Then [I] filed dozens of investigative print stories to promote, complement and expand on the documentary’s content while Jude produced a web trailer.
Paywall Editor Aleisha Preedy provided invaluable behind-the-scenes support with resources, execution and publicity.
The end product – published in October to coincide with the anniversary of Gerard’s abduction – takes viewers inside the police investigation, forensically documents Gerard’s life and reveals everything we could, at that time, about his death.
Have there been any new developments in the case since you finished the series?
After multiple trips to Perth to film on-camera interviews and countless off-the-record conversations with sources, the eight-part web series revealed new evidence, active leads and that police had begun a major cold case review.
[I have] filed significant follow up print stories since then and [my] investigation is ongoing. WA Police say that TBITBC has generated an unprecedented number of calls to CrimeStoppers and hundreds of new leads.
What message or goal do you hope reaches your audience?
After bravely sharing their story, I hope it will resonate with the Australian public more broadly and Gerard’s case will become better known.
Somebody knows something. I hope that seeing the faces and raw grief of Gerard’s family will compel them to come forward with new information or a confession.
And the next time I catch a police press conference on TV, it will be an announcement that Gerard’s killer has been charged.