Hockey Barn: Long Island, a short film about Nassau Coliseum and Islanders fans, has been making the rounds on social media since the weekend.
The five-minute movie, shot and directed by David Wurtzel, is narrated by Tom LoFaso, a member of the very vocal Section 329. Hockey Barn is a tight yet moving tribute to the Coliseum, the team and their places in the community. LoFaso's commentary is very passionate, and the location shots and archival footage guarantees a connection to Long Island hockey fans.
Watch it below. (You might recognize the clip of a John Tavares playoff game-winner, shot by Lighthouse Hockey power ranking meister Michael Levak from his seat for that game. It fits perfectly.)
We reached out to David with some questions about Hockey Barn: Long Island and he was kind enough to talk to us about his inspiration, equipment and intentions.
Lighthouse Hockey: What's your history with the Islanders and Nassau Coliseum?
David Wurtzel: I grew up in Levittown as an Islanders fan. My father was able to witness the team win the Cup so I grew up hearing stories about those years (much like so many other kids that grew up in the late 80's and 90's). My father took me to games frequently so it was always exciting when we got to go together.
In high school I started going to games with my friends simply because of how cheap it was to go with a student ID. I think in 2008 it was like $12 and they gave you a coupon for a Burrito at Chipotle. It was the cool thing to do for us. We would go to the game together and after the game go across the street to Chipotle. That group of friends has since expanded to what is now the Blue and Orange Army that sits in Section 329.
LHH: What inspired you to make the film? Did the idea come from a fan perspective or a filmmaking one?
DW: The idea definitely came from a filmmaking perspective, but also comes from being a member of the community. I wanted to tell a passionate story with an angle I haven't really heard before. I didn't really want it to be about the Islanders but more about tradition, passionate fans, and the building (Coliseum) itself. Focus on how the Islander fan/ Nassau County resident felt about everything that happened with local officials being unsuccessful on keeping the Islanders in Nassau.
I also wanted to create something that wasn't too long that people can like and share on Facebook and Tweet about. Something you could watch on your lunch break or while your sitting on the couch. Just something to get people talking about this important topic.
LHH: How did you meet Tom and was the idea always to focus on one fan talking about the Coliseum?
DW: I have known Tom for many years. We met in middle school; I remember he wore a piece of Islanders gear almost every day. I would definitely consider him one of my close friends.
The original idea was a lot larger in scale than what my final product came out to be, multiple interviews with multiple people. One of my interviews actually got cancelled on me the week prior to production (I won't say who because I still have a lot of respect for the person, they were respectful about it). So after that I decided to downsize and really focus on just Tom. Doing this I was really able to narrow my focus on the core of what I wanted the film to say. I guess I view it now as a good thing that I was able to keep it simple.
LHH: The "B-roll" lends a lot of local flavor to the film. What essential environmental images do you think best compliment the Coliseum?
DW: When I think about Long Island/ The Islanders, those are the two main images I get in my head that correspond nicely on camera. I think imagery of the beach as well as the suburbs are both essential.
LHH: What type of camera and lighting did you use and was filming mostly on-the-fly?
DW: I used a Canon 6D as my main camera with multiple lenses such as the Canon 70-200 F4.0, Tamron 24-70 F2.8, Plus a few different wide-angle lenses. Most of the B-roll was 60fps and on the fly, but I had a shot list to keep some organization to it.
For lighting Tom's interview I used a technique I saw a friend of mine use with a china ball lantern as a key light. It was actually pretty awesome and diffused the shadows nicely! After that I had some fill from a window and a small LED lighting his shoulder/ back.
LHH: During the filming process, did anything surprise you about the relationship between Islanders fans and the Coliseum? Or was it what you thought it would be?
DW: Nothing really surprised me during the production process besides how much work it actually was. I did A LOT of prep work. I knew that there is such a deep relationship between the fans, community, and the building. If you ask me there isn't a place like it.
LHH: What has been the reaction to the film? I'm assuming mostly good...
DW: The reaction since I put the film out only 4 days ago has been amazing. I've been getting Facebook messages and emails about it, which makes me really excited for the next few months ahead. My ultimate goal is to reach as many people with the mini doc as possible and to have it climb the ladder of sports websites/stations. Anyone that may have an interest in the community or just hockey in general.
LHH: The BIG question: will we see more of these shorts in a series about the Islanders final season in Nassau?
DW: While that would be awesome, unfortunately there is no plan for a short series about the Islanders' final season in Nassau as of right now.
* * *
Thanks again to David for taking the time to talk to us. Needless to say, we love the movie and hope we can see some more.