Sunday, 31 May 2009

Extras! Extras!

It's Sunday, and I'm out in Selkirk, Manitoba again for the second day of shooting scenes for Keep Your Head Up, Kid: The Don Cherry Story involving a large number of extras as the directors look to cover a significant game in 1973. A good number of extras have shown up for today, and they came ready with their best cheering and booing thus far. The cast and crew have been working hard, and today's events seem to be coming together very quickly and very well. Kudos to everyone involved today as another day looks to be a success. If you read yesterday's piece, you know that the AHL's Hershey Bears defeated the Manitoba Moose in Game One of the Calder Cup Finals, so it was kind of weird being forced to cheer for the Bears today with Winnipeg being a mere 20 minutes away. But more on that later.

The jerseys worn today, like last week, are perfect for this period of time. The producers have done an incredible job getting clothing for the cast that is appropriate for the time period, and they haven't overlooked the slightest detail on the players' uniforms. The wardrobe department clearly has done their homework, and the picture looks authentic from these eyes. Even the props department has come prepared - people are smoking in the crowd!

There was one issue today, however. A stand-in dressed as a Hershey Bears player suffered an injury, and his summer hockey movie-making days are done, it appears. Tim Kiriluk broke his ankle in two places, and won't be on skates for a while. Get better soon, Tim. You were doing one heck of a job in that fight scene. Godspeed!

Aside from that injury, it appeared everything else ran smoothly. Again, I'm not going to divulge secrets of what was being filmed or anything, but the scene today between the visiting Rochester Americans and the home-team Hershey Bears looked good. The actors really got into today's scene as well, so it was easy to react to what they were doing on the ice.

A little history is in order about the host complex, however, as the Selkirk Recreation Complex has gone out of their way in helping to make this picture come to life.

The arena holds 2571 people at full capacity - small by AHL standards, but perfect for MJHL and movie-making standards. It was build in 1992, and houses the Selkirk Steelers of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League as its main tenant. It has co-hosted the 2007 Women's World Championships and the 1999 World Junior Championships with the MTS Centre and Winnipeg Arena, respectively. It most recently hosted the 2009 Telus Cup, Canada's National Midget AAA Tournament, this past April.

The seats for the crowd at the Selkirk Recreation Complex are those that used to be found in old Comiskey Park in Chicago, Illinois. Of course, old Comiskey was demolished in 1990 and gave way to New Comiskey Park, which, since 2003, has been called US Cellular Field, but the seats still live on as they hold fans for Selkirk Steelers' games. That's something you don't see everyday, eh?

The arena itself has the feeling of an old-time arena. It's extremely cold in the building in the winter before fans start filing in. This morning, for example, it was extremely frigid before the 300 or so extras got on-set. The press box above the ice is four boxes wide, and one of those boxes is for the local radio station broadcast of Steelers' games. The stairs to the press box connect directly to the concourse above section seven, bringing the action extremely close to the press box. You can hear audible shouted words on the hockey broadcasts occasionally.

Modifications have been on-going at the Selkirk Recreation Complex as the movie changes from era to era for filming. Again, the production and publicity companies are keeping a tight lid on photos, and I completely and fully adhere to their wishes, so please don't ask if I have any. I do not, and I respect their wishes.

Gone is the standard plexiglass seen at every indoor rink across the globe. It has been replaced with period-specific chain-link fencing, similar to that seen in the NHL during the 1950s. There's no cage around the goal judge here, though. Depending on the scene, the championship banners change to match the home team on the ice. There have been three different Hershey Bears' championship banners that I've seen today alone, so there are probably others that I have yet to see. Also added are American flags, and gone is any reference to Canada, at the south end of the building as the movie is filmed in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Springfield, Massachusetts, and Rochester, New York amongst the various places that Don Cherry's career has travelled over the years. And gone are the ads normally seen around the boards - another era-specific modification. After having seen ads splashed across the boards for the last 20 or so years, it looks really different. Almost an empty feeling as the ice looks bigger.

The prevailing rumour from some of the crew is that this two-part mini-series will run next spring on the CBC. I'm almost certain they will make DVDs of the mini-series, so you may be able to get your hands on a copy if you don't get the CBC on your television. No one will confirm a DVD offering at this time, but I'm getting the sense that this will be one that makes it to disc.

As for cheering for the Hershey Bears, a crowd's gotta do what a crowd's gotta do, right? I'm still firmly behind the 2009 version of the Manitoba Moose and against the 2009 version of the Hershey Bears. But when it comes to the 1955 Hershey Bears and 1973 Hershey Bears today, I'm going all out for them.

One major change coming up if you're still interested in being an extra for this CBC production: June 14's filming takes place in Brandon, Manitoba at the Keystone Centre. Do not go to Selkirk, Manitoba! No one will be there from the movie! If you're interested in being an extra in Brandon, please click here to get your details. And don't forget to email them your vitals so they have you on the list!

Once again, some incredible work today by all the cast, crew, and extras. Undoubtedly, I am excited for this mini-series to air, and it looks like "a beauty".

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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