Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Flick picks: In The Crease

I had the chance last week to run a few questions by filmmaker Michael Sarner, who produced and directed the hockey documentary In The Crease.

The film, which follows the California Wave Bantam AAA hockey team as it pursues a national title, launched its Canadian distribution last week and is making, well, waves on Amazon.ca so far as the No. 2 hockey DVD. (You can catch a trailer at the movie's website.)

Here's what Sarner had to say about the film:

Q: I'm curious how you decided to pick this as a subject for a documentary film. Were there any other films maybe of other sports that you looked to as a guide? (I've heard the Hoop Dreams comparison.)

Sarner: As former hockey players, my co-director and I realized there just were not enough great hockey movies. So we set out to show a real insiders look at the hockey lifestyle and stumbled upon this incredible and inspirational team of teenagers who must overcome all sorts of adversity to learn what it takes to become champions. Hoop Dreams is the seminal youth basketball story, and that's what we set out to do for hockey — so to hear the comparisons really validates our efforts.

Q: What was the thought process as to integrating interview footage with NHL players into the film? I'd originally thought the NHLers involved were in some way connected to the national tournament, but that's the not the case in every instance.

Sarner: We really wanted to get inside the NHL guys' heads and share with players and fans what it was like for the stars of the game growing up, where they came from, what they went through to reach the NHL, how they prepare for the big game and bounce back after tough losses.

Q: Hockey's a notoriously difficult sport to film given the limitations. How hard was it to get the game footage portions of the movie given you were sometimes in cramped and/or low-lit rinks in California and elsewhere?

Sarner: With the full support of the players and coaches we were able to bring our cameras right into the middle of the action and capture the all the speed, skill and power of the game. During practises we were on the ice for every drill and every huddle. For the games, we got right on the bench to get the audience as close to the action as possible and give them the unique perspective of being at ice level. Lighting was definitely less than desirable, especially in some of the older rinks, but today's cameras allow you to overcome the horror of half-burnt florescent spot lighting.

Q: Have any of the players from the film gone on to play in other high-profile programs?

Sarner: The players we followed are now playing at a number of high-profile programs all over North America which is a testament to the level of hockey being played in non-traditional areas like California. Just to name a few: Mitchell Wahl was the WHL's fourth-overall draft pick in 2005 and is having a great rookie season for the Spokane Chiefs. Both Collin Reddin and Nick Maricic are playing for Team USA U-17 team. And co-captain Steven Hoshaw and Ryan Purdy are playing for prep schools Culver Academy and Exeter.
— end —

My thanks to Mike for answering a few of my questions. And for more on the film, Sharkspage had a good run through of various media coverage earlier this year.

I'll try to have more of a review of the film later, time permitting.

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At 6:33 p.m., April 03, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bought this movie off of their website about 6 months ago, and absolutely loved it. Given I grew up playing Bantam AAA hockey, this hit close to home to me, and brought me right back to those great years. Highly recommended documentary.



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