A year ago, the National Geographic Channel sent a crew from its office in Washington DC up to Meredith NH to capture some footage of the third annual New England Pond Hockey Classic. The project never did utilize the footage captured on the ice of Lake Waukewon last February, but fortunately, one member of that Nat Geo crew is refusing to let it die on the floor.
“Being from DC, I had really never experienced outdoor hockey before,” says Elivia Shaw, a production coordinator for the National Geographic Channel. “I was totally blown away by not only the size of the event but how amazing the players and fans were.”
Enthralled by the hundreds of intertwined story lines, the creative jerseys, the personalities, the scenery, and the differences between in the indoor and outdoor game, Shaw knew that a story was waiting to be told. And so she joined forces with Dan Fipphen, an assistant editor for DC-area Half Yard Productions, and the two started making plans for a second pilgrimage to the north.
“After Elivia came back from last year’s Pond Hockey Classic with amazing footage and a strong urge to delve deeper into the pond hockey culture, I jumped onboard,” says Fipphen. “For the last several months we’ve been feverishly cutting away at the footage and using it to develop a documentary web-series, with the goal of going back to Meredith this year and really sinking our teeth into the many storylines.”
For Shaw and Fipphen, both of whom have aforementioned day jobs, the project they’ve dubbed ‘On Frozen Ponds’ is one of passion, determination, and a belief that the stories encapsulated in events like the NEPHC deserve to be told. The video editing is done at night or on the weekends, and there is nobody waiting on Thursdays with a paycheck for the hours spent in front of glowing monitors. The duo has scheduled a number of weekend trips over the course of the next month to capture more video and expand their storylines, and for now, those trips are completely self-funded. To help offset the costs, the project has its own Kickstarter campaign. Kickstarter, an online fundraising website where creative projects like ‘On Frozen Ponds’ can raise money, only doles out donated funds once the projects reach their targeted goal. As of this very second, the pair has raised $2,385 of their $5,000 goal. Should they not reach $5,000 by January 31st, they’ll receive exactly nothing.
“Our hope is that this project ends up as content for a major network,” says Fipphen. “We’re doing this very grassroots, working on the belief that good stories about passionate pond hockey people will attract viewers and potential distribution platforms, as well as a few generous Kickstarter investors.”
Shaw adds: “We are going to put together a web series from the footage we capture this year and a stand-alone piece as well. Then we hope to get digital distribution from online networks and with enough viral support, go back and keep shooting for television next year.”
Also involved in the project is the New England and Lake Champlain Pond Hockey Classic commissioner Scott Crowder, a 2009 graduate of UMass Amherst and full-time pond hockey ambassador. Largely responsible for bringing pond hockey events into prominence in New England, Crowder jumped at the opportunity to be a part of this project. “Having the ability to work with the On Frozen Ponds crew to capture the true passion and essence is the sport of Pond Hockey is why we agreed to be involved,” said Crowder. “This production crew is dedicated to portraying the sport, showcasing the characters, and telling the story the way it is meant to be told.”
The team has put together a website, a Facebook and Twitter page, as well as the trailer below, which was filmed last year. The plan for their weekend visits over the course of the next month is to delve into some of the better-known NEPHC teams, grab some video of Team Crowder doing their pre-tournament work, and, if the weather aligns, perhaps even exploring the world of backyard rinks. Ultimately, Shaw, Fipphen, and Crowder want to use the spirit of the four-year-old New England Pond Hockey Classic as a springboard for a larger discussion of outdoor hockey, its participants, and its culture. With your help, their passion project could turn into a documentary you could one day see while watching the NHL Network or NBC Sports. At the very least, the trio’s passion for both hockey and filmmaking will ensure that the footage captured this year never sees a cutting-room floor.
This project cannot succeed without the help of the very community they’re aiming to capture, the very same community that backyard-hockey.com aims to serve. Please consider donating to the Kickstarter project for ‘On Frozen Ponds’. Per their Kickstarter page, “Your support will simply go towards feeding them and making sure they can come home to a warm room after spending all day out on the ice.” In return, they “promise to work our (very cold) butts off capturing beautiful footage and editing into all hours of the night.” So if you consider yourself a member of the outdoor hockey fraternity, please consider donating to a very passionate and worthwhile creative endeavor. You can do so here. I’d love nothing more than to see them blow their fundraising goals out of the water because of you, our readers.
For those of you who do donate, you will receive a prize based on the amount of your donation: PNDHCKY stickers, ‘On Frozen Ponds’ coozies, NEPHC gear, or even a tournament trophy.