One of the great challenges when producing a series like “Flight Plan” is making sure there is a good story line throughout each episode.
It’s easy to just shoot video and throw clips together without a story arc, but then there is a real good chance that the episode will come off as lackluster.
So, the idea going into each episode is to have something gritty and interesting that will offer a form of riveting entertainment.
Sometimes, in documentary form, the story writes itself. Other times it has to be manufactured. Either way, as a producer, you are at the mercy of the moment.
Sometimes you get lucky and get great footage. Other times, your luck turns and you don’t.
I’m not saying either was the case for Episode 2 of Flight Plan, but I will say that the vision we had going into the episode was certainly compromised by the situation at hand and we had to sort of change our approach a little on the fly.
That said, we are still very happy with the finished product. For the casual fan, getting to see what the first hours of a teenager’s hockey life is like after he is drafted is a unique experience.
However, for the hardcore fan, that is more ho-hum. The hardcore fan would much rather get a breakdown of all the trade talks and calls that went on at the draft so they can analyze them and form an opinion if their favorite team did the right thing, or not.
I know if I were a viewer and not on the production side, I would lean more toward the hardcore than the casual, but there is a delicate balance that needs to be struck there so as to not alienate either group.
So, heading into the Draft, our production team’s mindset was to provide two story lines for episode two – one for the hardcore and one for the casual fan.
It’s safe to say we hit some roadblocks.
NHL rules do not allow teams to have cameras or microphones on the draft floor or at the draft tables during the first round. We learned this because we did something very simple – we asked the league for permission.
It has since been brought to light that there may have been other teams who did it anyway. I can’t say if they just did it on their own without asking, asked, were denied and then did it anyway, or asked and received permission. It really doesn’t matter. For us, we asked, were told no, and had to take a different approach.
It was then decided that we would have one of our cameras trained on Paul Holmgren the entire draft. Unlike most GM’s, Paul is a guy who likes to talk turkey with other GM’s in person rather than just a quick phone call. So, in the absence of being able to have him mic’d up, we figured we’d follow him with a camera and see if anything came to fruition.
There was an expectation on our part that something could come down trade wise at the draft, so we were thinking that was going to be our storyline for the hardcore fan and that whoever ended up being the Flyers first pick – first round or otherwise – was going to be the storyline for the casual fan.
So we ran a camera on Holmgren for seven hours. Once the draft got started, he got up to speak to other GM’s twice.
You saw one of them – the chat with Montreal GM Marc Bergevin. The conversation occurred minutes before the Flyers picked Samuel Morin. It was also short and sweet.
The reason? The Flyers still wanted Morin and were thinking that if the price was right from Montreal, they might gamble and slide down the draft board and hope to still get him.
But, the price wasn’t right. As a matter of fact, the Canadiens were interested in Morin themselves.
The meeting between Holmgren and Bergevin was brief and Holmgren returned to the Flyers draft table and called in the pick – Samuel Morin.
The other G.M. he talked to was Craig MacTavish of the Edmonton Oilers.
He spoke to him once early in the first round, but it was, again, a short conversation. We didn’t make much of it.
However, Holmgren and MacTavish spoke four times early in the second round. It really looked like something was going to happen. We were set on making this the big angle for the episode.
And then…. Nothing happened.
So, in light of the fact that we didn’t have cameras or microphones on the floor in the first round coupled with the fact that the expected deal with Edmonton never happened, we were left with very little for the hardcore fan.
Now, we could have saved the whole back-and-forth with Edmonton for Episode 3, but our production team thought that spending three entire episodes on the draft was a bit much.
So, instead we will quickly update the rest of the draft and then get into development camp with our next episode.
Here are a couple of other items you didn’t see in Episode 2:
- Todd Hearty missed the bus – That’s right. The chief scout for the QMJHL, the guy who had the most input on Morin, was left stranded at the hotel.
The bus was slated to leave the hotel and head for Newark at 11 a.m. It pulled off the lot at 10:55 a.m. Hearty came strolling out of the hotel about a minute later, and it was gone.
He almost had to catch a ride with me and the rest of the Flight Plan crew, but another scout, John Reilly, was driving separately because he had to head in the opposite direction immediately after the draft, so Hearty was able to get him to turn around and pick him up.
The reaction on his face when he came walking out of the hotel though was priceless! I wish we had the cameras rolling.
- Samuel Morin was stranded inside the Prudential Center – Seriously. After his media tour was over, Morin went into a quiet room to decompress for a minute. The NHL was supposed to come back and take him to the Flyers suite where his family was waiting for him as well as Flyers coach Peter Laviolette and Player Development coach Ian Laperriere.
Eventually, all that was left was Morin and our camera guy who was following him around. It was quite awkward. Finally, the camera guy led Morin back to the event floor and to the Flyers table where a PR representative brought him to the suite to see his family again.
- Finally, there were a steady stream of Flyers folks who were being brought over to me for interviews that were being streamed live back to the viewing party at XFinity Live!
When Chris Pronger came over to the area we were doing the interview, we were chatting briefly about what I was going to ask him when the camera guy started giving me the 10 second countdown until we were live.
Knowing Pronger had been scouting possible first round defensemen, I had my opening question ready in my head – “When you went to see Morin play, what did you like about him?”
Then, in those final seconds, Pronger threw me a curveball.
“We drafted the one guy I didn’t scout,” he said.
I looked back at him, alarmed.
“I’ve seen him on video, so I can talk about him,” Pronger said. “But I went and saw all these other guys we were considering, and we didn’t take any of them.”
On that note, we went live. If you were inside XFinity Live! you might have noticed me stumbling through my first question to Pronger. Now you know why. Either way, I wasn't going to embarrass myself a second time by including it in Flight Plan.
To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AnthonySan37
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