Canadians, Hockey & Hockey Movies

November 14, 2011 at 9:18 am

Canadians, Hockey & Hockey Movies

I’m a proud Canadian and I love hockey.  I’m a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs.  That’s the basic information.  I’m actually shocked it isn’t featured prominently on my driver’s license.  Now, when I say fan, I mean I’m the type of person who says ‘we’ when referring to the Leafs.  ‘We’ lost a big game on Saturday night.  ‘Our’ new draft pick is kind of a big deal.  ‘We’ will win the Stanley Cup before I turn 30. (I’m 28)

I grew up in Northern Ontario where there are just as many hockey arenas as there are Tim Horton’s.  Every single one of my friends played hockey…  But I didn’t.  You see, hockey and I have always had a strange relationship.  Like many most Canadians, I know the game inside and out yet I’ve never actually suited up and taken the ice.  Other than street hockey and occasional games on outdoor rinks, I’ve never been a part of the game directly.  But that’s the beauty of this this country’s love of the sport.  You don’t have to lace up a pair of skates to love hockey.  It’s in our DNA and it found a way into mine as well.

So while I haven’t scored a goal in my life, I still I grew up surrounded by hockey.

Today, I work for a Canadian sports network and we show more hockey than any other network in this country.  There are days when we show as many as 5 regional NHL games simultaneously.  That may not sound like a lot but when you factor in pre game shows, intermissions, updates and post game shows for each game, it’s a ton of work.  It’s our job to know hockey and produce the best coverage in the world.  So it’s safe to say that as an adult, I’m still surrounded by hockey and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


One of the proudest moments I’ve ever had as a sports fan came when Sidney Crosby scored the Golden Goal to win Hockey’s Olympic Hold Medal on home soil.  Except I missed it…

I would have loved to add my voice to the collective roar of this country when ‘we’ won that game.  Here is what Vancouver sounded like:

No, I was at home getting ready for work when USA tied it.  It was devastating because I had to leave or risk being late for my shift.  When I emerged from the subway it was over and people had flooded the streets.  There were flags everywhere.  I’ve always loved my job but on that day, I REALLY loved my job.


A big part of my life is also devoted to movies and it’s in this area where hockey and I truly see eye to eye.  So you can imagine the impact films like The Mighty Ducks, D2, Miracle and Slapshot and more had on me.  For me, nothing beats The Mighty Ducks and D2.  I was and always will be obsessed with those movies.

“One, two, three…  Triple deke”

I can’t be the only one who paused to announce the ‘Knuckle Puck’ was imminent.  It drives goalies crazy!

The flying V was a staple in local rinks back then.  It even found it’s way into video games.  And more than ever, little league teams around the country sang ‘We Are The Champions’ after the USA Ducks won it all.

I was even humming the ‘Ducks’ theme song when I wrote the championship scene of a basketball film years ago. (Which was a badass basketball scene by the way.)


Lately, I’ve been curious how NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman feels about two prominent hockey movies being released in near future.  Right now, fighting and hitting in hockey is a heated debate.  Players are faster and stronger than ever and it seems someone goes down with a concussion daily.  (Including ‘our’ goalie James Reimer) Does fighting belong in the game?  How can you limit head shots?  These are questions that dominate the headlines regularly.  Don Cherry weighed in recently and it blew up into a massive story.  Some people would argue that Slapshot is all about the big hits and fights but those were simpler times and it’s a different world today.

Note: How do you think Brenden Shanahan would rule the hit from behind around the 1:48 mark?  Different times indeed.

I’m sure Mr. Bettman wants the discussion and especially the injuries to stop.  Is he thrilled about new films that focus on the rougher aspects of the game?  Or will Kevin Smith’s 2 part epic Hit Somebody and Goon starring Seann William Scott prove that hockey is hockey and it’s all part of the game.

In the old days, hockey movies like The Mighty Ducks focused on the love of the game and what it’s like to be a part of a team.  Both Goon and Hit Somebody seem to focus on the spirit of the game but their stories are based on bruisers and bullies…  It’s no secret that people in my country (myself included) will flock to see these movies but will they capture the Hockey starved imaginations of Canadians?  Will they bring hockey to the forefront in the US and expand the NHL’s audience?  Will they bring up the violence in hockey debate once more?  Or will they truly recreate the hockey experience fans are addicted to?


At one point, Kevin Smith wanted Seann William Scott to star in his hockey movie but he ultimately chose Goon.  (Hopefully there are more tributes to Canada other than ‘oots, aboots and eh)  I want this movie to be a love letter to hockey fans.  Sure it’s about a fighter who doesn’t understand the game but what if it’s also about a fighter who discovers the game?


Hockey has found it’s way into many of Kevin Smith’s movies.  It think it’s fitting that his final directorial effort is a two part hockey film.

Hit Somebody: Home tracks the rise of a bruiser from his humble beginnings to professional hockey player.

Hit Somebody: Away is about the players pro career.

Kevin Smith is a die hard hockey fan with a true appreciation of the game and quite frankly, an honorary Canadian as a result.  He loves hockey. (and Wayne Gretzky)  So if I had to choose which film will truly capture what hockey is all about I would have to go with Hit Somebody.

XTRA | Kevin Smith, Red State & THIS Independent Filmmaker


Forget the fact that both movies focus on enforcers.  Hockey fans love the big hits and the fights.  Personally, I think the league is doing a great job cracking down on cheap shots and hits to the head.  So lets get away from the violence in hockey debate and enjoy the game for what it is.  An exciting and fast sport full of moments like Crosby’s goal that make me proud to be a sports fan.

I hope both (technically there is three) of these movies deliver unique and entertaining entries into the hockey movie universe.  I think it’s about time a great hockey movie came along especially for us Canadians.  Hockey fans can be found all around the globe but the best hockey fans are Canadian hockey fans.

Like I said, hockey and I have always had a strange relationship because I never played the game.  My entire life, I’ve experience the game by watching it on television, sitting at the edge of my seat in arenas or settling in for a fantastic hockey movie. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t spend weeks mourning another year without playoff hockey Leafs!  The only thing that helps the grieving process is reliving my favorite hockey movie moments as I wait for a Stanley Cup or another moment like the Golden Goal.

Sports & Movies.  Athletic/Nerd.


Kevin Smith, Red State & THIS Indie Filmmaker

August 23, 2011 at 9:24 am

Kevin Smith, Red State & THIS Indie Filmmaker Toronto Underground Cinemas


An evening with Kevin Smith in Toronto complete with a screening of his new film Red State couldn’t have come at a better time.  I had just decided to put my blog on hold for a month in order to concentrate fully on writing my new screenplay and editing my new short film.  What better way to kick start the next few weeks then an evening with Kevin Smith at The Underground Cinema in Toronto.


I had a blast with Red State.  The experience was made even better by the enthusiastic audience I was a part of.  Indeed, something truly incredible happens when you match a movie with the perfect audience.  Red State moves a mile a minute and never lets up.

The film begins with a simple setup, a group of kids are looking for sex but their search unfortunately lands them in the middle of a fundamentalist church full of people with bad intentions.  It really doesn’t take long before those bad intentions come to fruition in a truly horrific way.  That’s when the film really surprised me.  Red State immediately makes a quick but smooth transition into an all out war between government agents and this machine gun loving family.    What followed was one hell of an entertaining shoot out where absolutely no one is safe.  I’m going to leave it at that because part of the fun of Red State is reacting to the twists and turns that basically smack you in the face every 5 or six minutes.  I was smiling the entire time and so was everyone else.

John Goodman dominates Red State.  The second he appeared on screen the crowed went nuts and he didn’t disappoint.  He is absolutely fantastic in the movie and he’s backed up by an equally fantastic supporting cast that includes a very creepy Melissa Leo.

People who have followed Kevin Smith’s career know that he’s never considered himself a visual director but he has definitely elevated his game with Red State.  The film’s visual style is every bit as gritty and interesting as it’s chilling premise.  While I still think Chasing Amy is Smith’s best work, Red State is definitely a strong contender.  It was fun to be able to see the film in that environment and the experience was made even better when he took the stage afterwards to answer questions about the film.

Kevin Smith, Red State & THIS Indie Filmmaker | Red State Review | Toronto Underground Cinema


As a die hard fan of the ‘Evening With’ DVDs, I couldn’t wait to hear him speak especially following a screening of his brand new film.  The story that fascinated me the most was his explanation of the film’s connection to the Phelps family and the Westboro Baptist Church.  They are a group based in Kansas led by Fred Phelps who inspired the villain in the film played by Michael Parks. To see a movie and then hear the filmmaker discuss the inspiration behind was amazing.  Kevin spoke with such passion about what he wanted the film to be and the emotions he wanted the audience to feel.  Even his decision not to include a score came with a detailed explanation that made me think about my own filmmaking choices in new ways.  That doesn’t mean my next movie won’t have a score but hearing someone talk about ‘why’ in such detail was inspiring.

At one point, he fully admitted to breaking the rules of traditional filmmaking in order to achieve the style he wanted.

“I’m 41, I’m Kevin Smith, I’ll do whatever the F#%@ I want.”

Some people may disagree with his editorial choices but that’s the point.  He encouraged the filmmakers in the audience to take risks and make the films they wanted to see.  That’s the very essence of creativity after all isn’t it?  It was a point that hit home especially with my new screenplay underway.  It’s strange how the event in Toronto came along right when I needed a boost going into the next few months of my creative life.  I have a lot of work to do and it can be daunting at times but hearing someone as passionate as Kevin Smith simply reaffirmed that dedicating yourself to projects you care about will always lead to satisfying results.  If anything it’s that wonderful sense of accomplishment I feel when I finish a project that fuels my imagination moving forward.  My evening with Kevin Smith served as a reminder of that.  I’m ready to get to work.

In the end, he spoke for about 2 hours or so highlighted by countless hilarious tales about his filmmaking adventures and how he envisions the future of independent film.  I sincerely hope the Red State DVD features a ton of this material or better still, a separate release that includes the entire Red State Tour Q&As.

Until that day, I’ve got a lot to do and it’s time to get started.

XTRA | Kevin Smith & Independent Film

All Time Worst: Stupid Evil Plan

May 27, 2011 at 10:11 am

All Time Worst: Evil Plan | Worst Movie Scheme | Evil Plots | Movie Blog

“Every search for a hero must begin with something which every hero requires – a villain” Mission Impossible 3

However, every villain must have a plan so the hero has something to do…

When I started thinking about all the evil plans we’ve witnessed on the big screen over the years, I realized we’ve seen an awful lot of amazing schemes.  Legendary cinematic masterminds have come up with some pretty ingenious plots.  The better the plan, the more entertaining it is to watch. Beyond that, you have truly fascinating villains without morals or any real plan at all.  The Dark Knight’s Joker comes to mind.

XTRA | All Time Best: Movie Villain

Unfortunately, there’s also been countless idiotic and stupid evil plans. Ridiculous plots that had us scratching our heads wondering… Why?

Of course, some plans are meant to be stupid.  Take Dr. Evil for example.  Here is a villain who wants nothing more than ONE HUNDRED… BILLION DOLLARS and a couple sharks with freakin’ laser beams attached to their heads.

All Time Worst: Evil Plan | Worst Movie Scheme | Evil Plots | Movie Blog

But the Austin Powers movies would have sucked if Dr. Evil wasn’t an idiot.  I’m looking for villains with a ton of ambition but zero common sense and he fits that description but I’m looking for something more.


“Allow me to break the ice”

What better way to get revenge then collecting huge diamonds and freezing an entire city.  I don’t even want to think about what Gotham City may have become if Batman & Robin didn’t have ice skates built into their boots…

All Time Worst: Evil Plan | Worst Movie Scheme | Evil Plots | Movie Blog

“What killed the dinosaurs?  The ICE AGE!”

In this case, Arnold’s tilt with Batman resulted in arguably the worst comic book adaptation of all time.  So is it any wonder that the central scheme wasn’t the greatest?

But still, I wanted my final pick to be a villain we are ‘supposed’ to take seriously.  At the end of the day, I went with a movie that really disappointed me.  A film that featured one of the best fictional villains in any medium, ever.


All Time Worst: Stupid Evil Plan | Worst Movie Scheme | Evil Plots | Movie Blog

Finally, Superman returns to the big screen and he faces off against Lex Luthor Land?  (L3?) It should be noted that I loved Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor.  I just didn’t buy his grand scheme.  His plan to create a new continent laced with Kryptonite is certainly ambitious but why not just take the green rock and create something that kills Superman first?  Or something?  Why would you have to kill billions of people in order to create new land?  It’s impressive that he pulls it off but I don’t think I’m alone that the final act was a bit of a stretch.  I thought Lex Luthor’s plan would involve Superman…  fighting someone?

I was extremely frustrated and really couldn’t come up with a worse ‘scheme’ given the hero involved.  It’s Superman!  You’re Lex Luthor!

Kevin Smith said it best:

It’s tough to get into a movie if you don’t buy the stakes.  I think a lot of people expected a ton of action and amazing battles.  I give the movie a little credit because of the space shuttle sequence but that had NOTHING to do with Lex Luthor.

Stupid. Evil. Plan.  I really wanted to love Superman Returns.


XTRA | 10 Flicks: Awesome Looking Movie Villains

Kevin Smith & Independent Filmmaking

February 11, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Kevin Smith vs The Studios | Red State | Movie Blog


Kevin Smith is right.  He definitely generated a ton of hype for the world premiere of Red State at Sundance this year with basically no cost at all.  Movie sites, bloggers, fans and critics were all talking about his plan to auction off the distribution rights after the screening.

It was a ballsy move for sure.  What if the movie didn’t connect to the audience?  Would it blow up in his face?

Little did we know, selling the rights to distribute and market his film was never his intention at all.

Here is his speech after the screening:

His intention was to prove that you could make and distribute a film for far less than the studios spend on films these days.  So he bid $20 bucks on his own movie in a symbolic gesture to prove that times are changing in the independent film world.

THE LINK: Slashfilm


His plan is simple.  Instead of selling a 4 million dollar film to a studio who would then spend 20 million to market the flick, he would distribute the film as part of a cross country tour leading to a theatrical release he would orchestrate himself.

“It’s too much ****ing horse **it, I just want to tell ****ing stories.”

So he will take his film on the road armed with 1.7 twitter followers, his ever expanding podcasting network and the word of mouth of his loyal fans.  There have even been protests both for and against the film and it’s religious themes. It’s all free publicity for Red State in the end.  Is he on to something?

This plan has been met with mixed results.

“Why would anyone outside of Hollywood be upset if he found a way to beat the studios at their own game? But the idea that what Smith is trying to do is somehow applicable to small, independent filmmakers is complete nonsense.” Screen Junkies

“Amidst your overlong monologue of self-gratification, you mentioned that instead of having the studios pay to release your film, you were going to have us, the audience, pay you out of our pockets to fund it. Then, in passing, you quickly alluded to a crucial financial figure; for this ‘privilege’ of seeing your flick, we’d each have to pay “six, seven, ten times the price of a normal movie ticket”. (Pre-sale pricing released today confirms ticketing starts at $68.25 for nosebleeds, up to $142.70) You then defended this by adding that you’d follow the screening with a Q&A. What fanboy should (or could) drop that kind of coin to see a film? And now the question that must be asked…would Dante or Randal be able to afford that?” Joblo

Personally, I think HE can pull it off but I’m not entirely sure how that will translate to filmmakers like me who don’t have 1.7 million followers to draw attention to our films.

In all honesty, I think it’s a great idea.  I think if it works it will open a lot of doors for him.  What he is doing is creating an alternative to the studio system.  Can you make a movie without spending ridiculous amounts of money on marketing?

I think it depends on who you ask.  Take Christopher Nolan’s Inception.  That movie received a ton of marketing cash in addition to the $160 million dollar production budget.  The film went on to make more than $800 million world wide. (Boxofficemojo)

Will he ever see those kinds of numbers with his new strategy?  Does it even matter?  Again, it depends on who you ask.  Honestly, I’m looking forward to seeing how well Red State does.  He is putting a lot on the line for his first Horror film.

If people do pay large amounts of money, is it because of the film or the Q&A that will follow? What if the film fails?  Will his tour have a positive or negative effect once the film reaches theaters?

On the other hand, what if the plan works and he opens a few doors by creating  a new distribution model.  He could position himself to help and inspire a lot of filmmakers out there.  Perhaps other people will follow his lead and start championing lower budget films as well.  Perhaps indie filmmakers will be more willing to release their own films as well.

A lot of people complain about the lack of originality in Hollywood these days.  Everything depends on the bottom line.  Kevin Smith’s new adventure could lead to more and more originality on the big screen thanks to the visions of countless indie filmmakers out there that don’t have access to the studio distribution system.  He’s potentially giving aspiring filmmakers another avenue to reach an audience.

I’m pretty pumped to see where this road leads.  I hope the tour stops in Toronto eventually because I would definitely pay to see Red State before it’s proposed theatrical run in the fall.

“True independence isn’t making a film and selling it to some jack ass.”

XTRA: Kevin Smith’s Red State Inspires Indie Filmmakers

Kevin Smith’s Red State Inspires Indie Filmmakers

November 12, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Kevin Smith's Red State Looks Awesome

I have gigantic amounts of respect for Kevin Smith’s work.

Before I go further, let me say that I’m not necessarily a die hard fan of his films but I still find them to be entertaining.

I’m a huge fan of Kevin Smith the person.  I first became a fan after a friend of mine showed me the first Evening With Kevin Smith DVD.  I now own all three in addition to his hilarious books.  What I find fascinating is how easy it is to relate to him as he rants about his adventures in Hollywood.

He’s just up there talking about how much he loves making movies.  His movies.

It’s admirable because he does things his way and is successful because he answers directly to his fans.  Naturally, he wants to attract new fans as well but he’s always mindful of the people who have followed him along the way.

Kevin Smith is easily one of the most accessible filmmakers in the world.  Whether it’s through his DVD’s, books, blogs, smodcasts or tweets, he always seems to be reachable.

That is why I’m a fan.

Following Kevin Smith is a glimpse into the world of filmmaking by someone who did it by himself.  He took a huge risk and found an audience with Clerks and hasn’t looked back since.

Yet there are still people out there who criticize his films.  Most notable, the recent ‘Hollywood-ish’ buddy cop comedy Cop Out.

I think he returned to his ‘do it yourself and see what happens’ roots as a result.

That’s why I’m hoping Red State is his best film to date.

The film was made for a reasonably low cost and he is handling most of the work himself.  Case in point, he edited the film each night and had a rough cut ready for the wrap party.

That’s unheard of yet not surprising given Smith is so passionate about his films.

When he launched the first poster Red State shot up my most anticipated films list.

Kevin Smith's Red State Inspires Indie Filmmakers

Here is what Mr. Smith had to say about the poster on his blog:

“Moody, weird, and pitch-perfect for the tone of the film. If I went out to an ad agency here in town, I’d be billed close to 20 grand for a campaign that’d maybe… maybe… include this poster. But this piece of artwork (I call it “The Holy Ghost”) didn’t come from a top-tier ad agency: Jon Gordon is my RED STATE producer, and this poster was created by his assistant, Melissa Bloom. So we’ve got a marketing image that was put together by someone who was on set every day, integral to the process that produced the film which inspired this image. This isn’t the work of some gun for hire who’s doing six other campaigns; we’re not just one of many. The marketer is actually family, RED from pre-production all the way through wrap, so she’s got an insight into the flick that no ad agency could ever boast (not even one-time Glo-Coat golden boy Don Draper over at SCDP). I’ll take passion over pedigree any day.”

I think that statement alone is inspiring to independent filmmakers out there.

Come up with a film believe in and make it happen.

Recently, he debuted the teaser trailer before a small group of fans in a feature he calls Red State of the Union.

You can actually listen to the event and subsequent Q&A here.

“Your audience is coming so lets reach for the audience that’s not coming…  I hate that.”

He’s doing all the right things.  Promoting the movie himself through a community he’s built around the fans that love his work.

He’s planning on doing more Q&A’s leading up to the film’s release and I for one will be tuning in for all of them.

I’m looking forward to seeing some footage from this film. It’s completely different than anything he’s ever done.  I think it’s a perfect film for him to make.  Why not change things up and step away from comedy and do something completely different?

My favorite Kevin Smith film is Jersey Girl.  That’s probably an unpopular opinion but I think Mr. Smith would agree that’s it’s not about popular opinion.  It’s about the movies you connect with.

It’s too soon to tell if Red State will be a hit with fans or critics alike.

However, how can you not be curious about a film he cares so deeply about?

PS: I’m curious as to how people will take the religious tone of the film especially after the amount of protesters against Dogma.