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Road hockey rumbles

Mark McGuckin and Calum MacLeod

How did two UBC film grads get their own television series after graduation?

By doing what they love most: filming and playing road hockey.

Mark McGuckin (BA ’04 Film Production) and Calum MacLeod (BA ’03 Film and TV Studies) — co-hosts, writers, and creative producers of “Road Hockey Rumble” — take their love of the game across Canada.

McGuckin and MacLeod created the reality-based documentary series about legendary hockey towns, age-old rivalries, and the genuine passion for a down-home Canadian game, which premiered Jan. 10 on the Outdoor Life Network.

“We knew we wanted to do something that is Canadian, and we realized that the best thing to do was to play road hockey,” MacLeod says. “And we wanted to showcase different parts of the country not a lot of people know about.”

“I love hockey. Everyone’s played it. It’s the game. It’s kind of the grassroots Canadian game,” adds McGuckin. “You don’t need $500 worth of equipment to play — you just need a stick, ball, friends, street and net.”

For those who expect this to be a sentimental history of the game, or its players, think again.

The show’s website describes it best: “On a cross-country road trip each week our hosts Mark and Calum draft local players and face off in a kick-ass game of road hockey! For the winner, bragging rights and beer… while the loser gets punished for sucking!”

This is as real as games in neighbourhoods across the country — complete with trash-talking.

Except there is a unique twist — the defeated team captain must suffer an inventive and often humiliating punishment inspired by physical comedies a la “Jackass.”

Mounted as a hood ornament on the front of their motor home and having tomatoes thrown at him by the winning team in the first episode is not unlike being dyed blue from head-to-toe after the second show.

“I have never liked tomatoes and now I like them even less,” reflects McGuckin on the website. “If you’re going to throw tomatoes at someone, make sure they are soft tomatoes.”

McGuckin and MacLeod’s collaboration stem back to their early days at UBC, where they worked on various projects together and were even in the same MUG group.

The short film “Lyon King” (2004), now being broadcast on CTV’s Comedy Network, was co-produced by MacLeod and written, directed and starred in by McGuckin.

McGuckin’s credits include: cinematographer on the Gemini Award-winning CBC/Documentary Channel series “College Days College Nights” (2005), and the Life Network series “Crash Test Mommy” (2005).

MacLeod produced the 2005 National Screen Institute ZeD Drama Prize film “Gravity Boy,” which was broadcast on CBC Television in Fall 2006. He also produced “Our New Toy” (2004), winner of the Most Innovative Film award at the Real 2 Reel Children’s Film Festival.

McGuckin was working for Vancouver-based Paperny Films when the duo pitched the idea to the film company.

“They just liked the idea,” recalls MacLeod. “It was actually kind of nice because it’s always difficult to pitch your ideas and you sort of feel that you have to lobby for them.”

“We’re very fortunate. We came up with the right idea and pitched it to the right people at the right time.”

From Trail, BC to St. John’s, Newfoundland, the two visited 13 towns across the country, averaging 50 hours of footage per episode, which is whittled down into 24 minutes and six seconds to be exact, MacLeod points out.

Filling the roster for each of their five-player teams required some advance scouting of local road hockey fans.

“It was finding that one dude who loved the show just from the description and away we went,” says MacLeod.

When asked why Vancouver was not a stop on the road trip MacLeod wittily replies, “Because it wouldn’t be that much of a drive.”

So what is the inspiration of this zany show?

“What’s still there from the original academic approach is you do learn by accident,” says MacLeod. “So when you’re watching, you’re entertained. You laugh but you also get a little bit of information in there, too.”

“It kind of started more of an academic study of what it means to be Canadian and that was boring,” McGuckin jokes.

When asked who is the better road hockey player, both McGuckin and MacLeod answer, “I am.”

“What,” asks a surprised MacLeod. “If anybody has seen the first two episodes…”

“It was the team,” McGuckin quickly responds.

With the first two scores at 15-5 and 12-3 for MacLeod, the remainder of the season should be interesting to say the least.

“Road Hockey Rumble” airs Wednesday nights at 9:30 pm PST on the OLN channel.

Article originally published by UBC Faculty of Arts.

[Photo courtesy of Road Hockey Rumbles]

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