Friday, March 11, 2011

Story 35: BCWSA and the Silver Screen

When BCWSA started in 1971, most people didn't know that wheelchair sports even existed unless they had a friend or family member who played. Those days, however, are long past us. In recent years, wheelchair sports have made their way into the mass media thanks to documentaries like "Murderball" and TV shows like "Friday Night Lights" and (most recently) "Fringe." Today, we profile several occasions where BCWSA has had its 15 minutes of fame . We even go behind-the-scenes at the taping of "Fringe," where several BC wheelchair rugby athletes (including Duncan Campbell and ref Kevin Bowie) appeared in an episode (Season 3, episode 15).


"Murderball" is perhaps the most famous wheelchair sports documentary. It was nominated for a 2006 Academy Award and launched wheelchair rugby into the spotlight. Since then, the sport has appeared in several other films and television shows, including "Jackass" and "Friday Night Lights." While most people in the wheelchair sports community are familiar with "Murderball" and know that it features BC athletes Garett Hickling and Ian Chan, few people know that many scenes were actually filmed at the Vancouver Invitational Wheelchair Rugby Tournament and feature several local athletes, fans and supporters in the background. You can see wheelchair rugby (and Ian and Garett) live at this year's Vancouver Invitational, which will take place from March 26 - 28.

Can't Stop, Won't Stop

This 2009 documentary produced by OMNI follows Canadian captain Ian Chan leading up to the 2010 World Wheelchair Rugby Championships. The documentary focuses on Ian Chan's work ethic -- the title comes from the mantra he repeats to himself during training -- and the role that his mentor Duncan Campbell played in the creation of this uniquely Canadian sport.


Tonight, the TV show "Fringe" will air an episode that features wheelchair rugby. Since "Fringe" is filmed in BC, local athletes, refs and coaches were invited to be part of the shoot. BCWSA was given permission to go behind the scenes -- we'll even be part of the official "Fringe" behind-the-scenes DVD -- and film the following video blog. We've got teasers for tonight's episode, interviews with the BCWSA members featured in the episode and even an interview with Alan Ruck (of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" fame), who shares his thoughts about wheelchair rugby with social media coordinator Arley McNeney.

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