Behind the Glass (BTG) will look into the work and passion of today’s professional hockey photographers. This film will provide the fan and passionate photographer a glimpse into their world. It will also explore the stories behind some of hockey’s historic photographs.
Director/Producer Jeff Nash grew up in a small prairie town and like many other Canadian children, hockey was the only thing that kept him busy during those long, cold winters. Since then Nash has gone on to film some of hockey’s greatest players working for multiple newspaper organizations and Hockey Canada during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
Nash has been working in the hockey industry for over a decade and has seen the game from many different perspectives. While working as the Photo/Video Coordinator for Hockey Canada, the idea for this project came to him while working at events and watching the photographers do their work. Photographers have a unique job that allows them to slip into the game undetected in order to capture images that make it seem like they were right in the middle of the action. Whether placing themselves directly into the line of play without interfering with the sport or utilizing today’s technology to immerse their equipment into the play; photographers use every avenue possible to get ‘the shot’. And unbeknown to the players and fans, to capture today’s action requires a lot of planning, patience, and perseverance.
Behind the Glass will have interviews from as many photographers as possible spanning many generations. Another goal of the film is to shadow at least three photographers and capture all aspects of their work including the travel involved, to the shooting of an actual game and their workflow and post-production duties.
Other topics that the film may cover will be the major industry shift from film to digital and associated issues. Workplace hazards and sacrifices will undoubtedly be covered as shooting begins.
In order to capture the different environments of a variety of events, the goal would be to include regular season game(s) (perhaps following a photographer as they travel to a few cities) and an NHL playoff game (preferably a game in which a team wins either a championship or title to capture the added stress photographers face when attempting to shoot that championship winning photo).
Another goal of the project would be to travel to Sochi for the 2014 Olympics and follow photographers as they cover a high-profile event on an international stage. The challenges of adapting to another country would provide a unique perspective to film.
Why is this film being made?
This revealing film will show that behind all the images we see today there is a unique craft that today’s photographers have spent years and even decades to perfect. There has also been a huge transformation in their industry with the now standard use of digital photography in place of film.
This documentary will give the viewer a first hand perspective of how much work goes into capturing each and every NHL (or high performance) game. Setting up remote cameras, strobes and in some cases organizing the work of other photographers are just some of the responsibilities they have.
This film will also preserve the stories behind some of hockey’s greatest photographs. The legends behind Bobby Orr’s Stanley Cup winning goal and Paul Henderson’s Summit Series winning goal are passed down through the generations. But very few people know the story behind that particular photograph. Where was the photographer? Did they plan to capture the action in front of them? Or was it just chance they captured that defining moment on film?
The most recent example of this is Sidney Crosby’s golden goal in Vancouver 2010. This goal (at least in Canada) is the next legend. Three photographers who have committed to this project were all in Vancouver and captured the same goal. Each will have their own perspective and stories of that historic moment, stories that should be preserved for future generations.
Where will this film take place?
This project will be filmed in multiple locations over a lengthy period of time. The photographers who have committed to the project currently work in the following cities: Edmonton, Vancouver, Calgary, Boston, New York, New Jersey, Toronto and potentially other international locations including Sochi Russia.
The bulk of the film will follow photographers through their setup process in the venue they are working in. Most of this will be taking place inside an NHL facility. Please consult the production shot list to see the list of places and subjects to be filmed.
What is the timeline of this project?
Currently funding and an approved budget is being finalized. Approvals, script writing and research are ongoing and will be taking place in the spring of 2013.
Shooting is slated to begin at the start of the 2013/2014 NHL Regular Season. Depending on approval, the filming of a Winter Classic, Olympics or playoffs will push filming into Spring of 2014.
Post production and editing will take place over the summer of 2014 and release of the film for the 2014/2015 film festival season.
Who has committed to the project?
So far we have a number of photographers who have confirmed interest in the project:
Andy Devlin – Edmonton Oilers/Hockey Canada photographer
Matthew Manor – NHL/IIHF photographer
Brian Babineau – NHL/Boston Bruins photographer
Steve Babineau – NHL/Boston Bruins photographer
Jeff Vinnick – Vancouver Canucks/IIHF photographer
David Sandford – NHL/Freelance photographer
Andre Ringuette – Ottawa Senators/IIHF photographer
Bruce Bennett – Getty Images/NHL
What does the film hope to achieve?
This project will hopefully inspire a new level of appreciation, awareness and respect for an industry that is often admired but frequently abused. Showing a very personal perspective of a story provides an emotional connection between the subject and the viewer. This connection will build a higher level of appreciation to a photographer or image.
In today’s digital world, images are taken advantage of on a regular basis. The amount of labor, expensive equipment and talent are always susceptible to illegal copyright infringement. This film hopes to achieve a new level of respect for the people behind today’s best hockey photographs.
Who is the target audience?
The audience of this project will obviously be hockey fans. These are the people who already have an emotional attachment to the game and it’s images. Another audience, that may even surpass the number of sports fans, will be passionate photographers. With the convenience of low cost digital cameras, it seems like everyone you know is a budding photographer. Even if they are not hockey fans, they will be interested in the technical aspects and the stories of these photographers.
How much does the audience know about the subject?
The audience will most likely know little to nothing about the photographers in this film. They will also have limited knowledge of the technology used to take professional photos in the hockey arena setting. All of the photographers in this film have utilized social media to connect their fans with their work and some audience members may know their images, but not necessarily the amount of work involved.
What will be the film’s technical conditions?
If following today’s photographers wasn’t visually enticing enough, there are some unique visuals in the planning stages that will introduce cutting edge photography/videography to the project.
This film will be filmed with HD cameras. The bulk of the film will be footage of photographers as they work as well as sit-down interviews with individual photographers.
Sit-down interviews of each photographer will be shot with dynamic lighting. There will also be some unique shots of the photographers themselves: their hands, eyes, characteristics and camera equipment. Examples might include macro shots of the photographer’s eyes and equipment to be a visual aid to illustrate that a photographer must have an eye for shooting hockey.
Perhaps the most exciting visual and possibly most complex visual of the film (contingent on budget) will be the use of 60+ GoPro cameras all lined up in a unique way to capture “Bullet-Time” (the Matrix style) of hockey players in a setup situation. This technique has yet to be used extensively in hockey.
This unique and edgy angle will allow the viewer to look at a player taking a slapshot, giving a bodycheck, goalie making a glove save at almost a 360 degree angle. The idea behind this shot is to follow the theme of today’s hockey photographers having to freeze the action. This unique way of freezing action will add to the ‘wow’ factor of the film. This would be done in a closed setting as it would be impossible to achieve during an actual game.
How will the film look and feel?
The visual goal of the film will be to make it as fast paced and exciting as the sport of hockey itself. There will be a lot of textures (dents in cameras, equipment, photographer’s characteristics etc) to accentuate interviews with the photographers and footage of them working. A lot of up close camera angles and action shots will be used.
The film is originally intended to be uncensored to show the true nature of the photographers in action. Whether it’s their colorful personality or an unexpected puck or stick to the head; the intent is to show the raw experience. If the desire is to present this to a wide audience, the film can be adapted to suit all audiences.
The film will also have narration to drive home points or paraphrase points made by photographers during their interviews to be efficient with screen time.
What is this film’s distribution?
Originally this film is intended for North American documentary film festivals. The amount of releases depends on the budget involved. The film will hopefully be entered into all the major independent film festivals in San Francisco, Toronto, Seattle, New York, Austin, and Whistler. This area of the film’s vision is flexible and can be adapted to suit a web release or other any other option that may exist.
Nash’s extensive knowledge, experience and passion for both hockey and photography gives him a distinct advantage in filming this project. Nash understands the game of hockey literally from the ice up and knows the role of a photographer extensively. He also knows the mechanics of both subject matters and knows how to capture them in a visually appealing way whether its strapping on skates to follow players on ice, to knowing where to position cameras to capture the footage required.
Nash also has a professional relationship with some of the subjects. This established relationship puts the subjects at ease when working with them knowing that Nash knows the boundaries of their jobs and to not interfere with their work
How can you help with this project?
Behind the Glass is currently looking to secure funding. Travel will be the bulk of the film’s cost.
Spreading the word will also help the film get attention and build up the project’s audience. A video blog and social media updates will be ongoing as the project progresses.
Feel free to contact me at anytime if you’re interested in funding this project or spreading the word!
The following information is the intellectual and creative property of Offshoot Studios.
January 5, 2013