▶ DERBY (1971) Trailer – ok, I made a film I loved….but what about the skaters and fans?


▶ DERBY (1971) Trailer – YouTube.

Click on link above to see short trailer for the film Derby.

I backed and produced this film in 1971, hoping to make a film all the Derby fans and skaters would like…..well it turned out to be an art film about America at that time that played 6 film festivals (from San Francisco to Dallas to Atlanta to Toronto to London, and was judged best films at most) and was loved by all major film critics, but the skaters and fans didn’t care much for it at all.

I am very proud of it….it was a groundbreaking cinema verite 40 years ago, and Roger Ebert gave it 4 stars, and it was considered one of the ten best films of the year by most critics, but didn’t do well at the box office, which was not unusual for documentaries at this time. Because one of the Today show personalities loved it so much, in the late 90s I was on Today talking about it and the revival of Rollerjam.

40 years later we have “Derby Baby”…..two very different approaches to the game.

Some times you can’t put a monetary value on what you do that you like. I think one of my favorite reviews was by Sports Illustrated: (to paraphrase) “It is amazing that this is the first sports film about a suspect sport that is so honest. If you loved “The Knute Rockne Story” (a fabricated film about the legendary Notre Dame coach), then you will hate “Derby”.

It is available at Amazon; I have fresh VHS copies…..great Roller Derby action, but not really a Derby film. Remember if you watch it, it wasn’t scripted and the lighting and dialog is not always the best.

I will post the New York Times review in my next post.

SHHH: I just got to watch the first two episodes of “Derby Till I Die”


Obviously, even though we don’t like to admit it here, the Brits sometimes do things first and better than us.

The people from Rampage Studios were kind enough to send me the first two episodes of this series about the London Rollergirls (and a lot more). But they were also smart enough to allow me just a few hours to watch them and with restricted passwords, so I can’t post them for all to see. The series can be seen on Extreme TV in the UK.

I have seen every Derby Film from The Fireball with Mickey Rooney, Pat O’Brien, and Marilyn Monroe. to my “Derby”. “Whip It” and “Derby Baby” so you can say I know my Derby. But DTID chooses an interesting path: each episode follows a different individual through her daily life, especially with Derby. Treekill Tart (Theresa Brown) wants more than anything to be a London Rollergirl and is in their rec league. The first episode follows her through her training, competing and finally with her tryout which occurs every six months by LRG. What makes it good programming is seeing the reaction of others in her personal life, her work as a park ranger, her try with the other women at burlesque. and finally her tryout, which if you have watched Derby at all you know she will be rejected, but she just goes forward to try again. And unlike the series shown on AE years ago, this show is never dull or exploitive.

Although the camera work and editing are stellar there will be complaints from Derbyites that there isn’t more Derby and less other. The obvious answer: if you are creating a series you want everyone to watch and be interested in, you better achieve balance, and the producers have accomplished that. And Treekill exudes such joy and spirit the episode just flies by, and of course my very own (she will learn someday) Raw Heidi and the others are huge contributors. They were able to catch the naturalness and the uniqueness of Roller Derby (“Darby”) people. And the Ewok portion showed another side of the fun of the game.

The second episode is definitely more hardcore. The focus is on that great Derby couple from the Brawlers, Stefanie Mainey and Olivia Coupe; Stefanie the star skater, Olivia the captain, and a couple in real life. You want to see fitness and training that any sport participant would want to emulate, it is here….a great tourney in Europe where the Berlin Bombshells upset the team from the UK, the Tiger Bay Brawlers; it is there where the skating and the fans are captured perfectly. And the episode ends with LRG coming to the US to skate (and beat!) the fabulous Rat City (Seattle) Rollers in a huge NBA arena. The action caught is startling.

I am not a reviewer and there is no way I can do this series justice. Those who know me know that I love film and am rather harsh in my criticisms (see “The Dallas Buyers Club” and know I liked it), so I am far less likely to fall over everything just because it is Derby.

This is a wonderful series: I hope someone picks it up here: frankly, if not ESPN, then Oprah, Bravo, etc. Perhaps the most important thing you will get from these shows are implied empowerment, team play, athleticism, love of sport with no pay, and an enthusiasm for life that is bigger than life.

Good show, Rampage, and the London Rollergirls and supporting cast.

The relevance of age in Derby or entertainment


I saw a film the other night at Berkeley Rep Theater that blew me away.

I don’t know whether to call it cinema verite, or a rockumentary or whatever, but “Broadway Idiot” stands on its own as a remarkable film.

It is about Green Day and how the stage production of “American Idiot” came about.  And the seamless way it went from actual happenings to the creation and the production, with the best presentation of music I have seen in such a film (sorry,Stones).  It left me begging for more after the 90 minutes were over.  Just take my word, see it when you can.

The audience was more Berkeley Rep than Green Day, older demographics (just like the audience that saw “Derby Baby” at the Sonoma Film Festival), but they thoroughly enjoyed it.

I guess we can credit social media for the cross-generational acceptance of music and culture and sports today.  My day (gawd, I hate that), we had Benny Goodman, Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Patty Page, etc, and they seemed to have lasted for years.

Not any more.  There is a hipness in being aware of what is going on out there and a desire for all to join in.

What if you tell people there are over 1900 active Roller Derby players in the world…..many would think that is amazing.  But when they know that the 1900 plus are all over the age of 40 and still participating and contributing to the knowledge and growth of the sport, how do you equate that?

In the 50′s over 35 was considered getting old; put on the farm dresses and ugly shoes.  And my father tried to show that even older people could participate by making the elderly “Ma” Bogash a star, at the advanced age of 39.

Image by kipcurry from stock.xchng.com.

Image by kipcurry from stock.xchng.com.

Really, what does age in years matter now.  Most of us are trying to stay in condition; many might think that full contact Roller Derby is a bit extreme, but those who are participating don’t.  One woman still skates at 68, and then there is the fabulous Dick Roche (“Merby Dick”) who is in this third year of full-on skating at the age of 73. (click on link at bottom of the post to see Dick -with the white beard- skating) And a goodly number of over 50s are participants.

And by the way, I did an informal sex survey on the over 40 site last week, and most said their sex life was better after they started skating; a few said either they were too tired or who had time for it; and one wonderful answer was “I couldn’t believe what a difference solid thigh muscles would make!”  You just never know.

These champions are not asking for special waivers or conditions; they skate the skill tests and the games.  Read some of the posts on “Derby over 40″ on facebook, and just soak in how remarkable our game is for everyone; and it is one of the hardest to play amateur games on the block.

In my time with Derby, probably only Bert Wall was over 40, and he wouldn’t admit it.  Today at 87 he exercises and plays tennis 5 times a week, and of course is the club’s senior champion.

If you have some of these remarkable people in your league, welcome them, learn from their life experience and, if you get smart ass, you will find yourself on the floor.  No wimps in this group.

Meet Bonnie Thunders, who might be the LeBron James of roller derby – ESPN


Meet Bonnie Thunders, who might be the LeBron James of roller derby – ESPN.

CLICK ABOVE

 

This was on ESPN.  The game has stars, and people come to see stars.  Suzy Hotrod and Bonnie Thunders skate on the world’s best team, and their public personas are so different, yet work wonderfully together.

To see Bonnie go jam after jam, virtually unstoppable by any blockers is a thrill not enough have experienced, and of course Suzy may be the best combined jammer and blocker in the game.

I know this is a team sport, but there is at least one skater who shines in every league!  Feature her (him) in your press and promotion to bring in more fans.  It still is a team game, but don’t hide someone who brings it all to the track!