Author: Robert Creenan
The Buffalo Sabres have been through their share of ups and downs over the last few years. Everyone in the area knows that. But wouldn’t you like to live through some of those moments over again through people with the naïveté of the era?
Because in about 1 year’s time, a documentary about the lives of 12 Sabres fans (spanning over the course of 3 years) will finally be finished. This is the project of Mary Wall and Eric Wojtanik, though the idea stemmed from Wall during her time working on the NBC show, The Office.
“We were on a 9-week hiatus, so I was back in the Buffalo area then, and it was when the Sabres made their 2006 Cup run. And when they finally lost, I saw all of the fans at the airport holding their ‘Thank You Sabres’ signs on the news. There was a unifying factor the community got with the team,” said Wall. “And I was in the area when Terry Pegula bought the team in 2011. Everyone had that same optimism, and started to think that this might be something good.”
The documentary follows 12 Sabres fans over the course of 3 years, starting in 2011. The youngest fan was 11 and the oldest was 94. Altogether, Wall and Wojtanik have compiled over 800 hours of footage of these people’s lives. “I wanted to make a movie that was appealing to most people,” said Wall. “The Sabres and Buffalo are only going to appeal to certain people. This is a human story about people and their everyday struggles.”
Because of the 800 hours of footage shot, it’s very difficult to edit down to a 90-minute movie. The crew will be hosting a gala at North Park Theater to raise money to afford an editor for the movie. The process, at least what Wall expects, should take about a year to fully edit, by which time the deadlines to submit for film festivals start coming around. The event will include Buffalo Sabres’ national anthem singer Doug Allen and James Wright, a rising opera singer in the area and one of the people the documentary focuses on.
One other thing that’ll happen at the gala is deciding what the documentary will be called. Wall launched a “name the documentary” website, sponsored by North Park, and will run until September 2nd. “Anyone can enter a name at the website,” says Wall. “Eric and I will pick our favorite titles, and then, at the fundraiser, the attendees will vote on their favorites.”
“Everyone faces obstacles in life,” Wall contemplates. “Whether it’s their own challenges, whether it’s the Sabres coming off their worst season ever. The thing is, the fans are still excited about the upcoming season. These people are hopeful for the future, whether they can control it or not.”
Photo: Taken by film cast member – see Facebook page