© 2015 by UT Buffalo Hockey Fan Documentary 

fanconnectionmovie.com

 

FILM SYNOPSIS

Photo by The Studio on Seneca

In the Rust Belt city of Buffalo, NY, frustration is at an all time high after decades of decline and broken promises.  Not seeing a path to renewal for their city in the politicians or corporations who have let them down for decades, the beleaguered yet loyal citizens turn to their professional hockey team for relevance, not just for their city, but for themselves. 


The Fan Connection is a deeply personal fly-on-the-wall look at the lives of die-hard fans over a hockey season. Ultimately, it is a heart-warming story of what it means to be a fan, identifying with a city, and the power of ordinary citizens to affect change.

 

FEATURED FANS

Mark

Mark was born with a “touch of cerebral palsy” and raised in western New York.  He grew up a Sabres fan, and sees the team as a means for both him and Buffalo, the city he loves, to finally get a win.  Looking for his own win, Mark recommits to learning to drive after ten years of doubting himself because of a bad experience.  He sets out to prove that, “even with a disability, people can do anything.”  All the while, he calculates and recalculates playoff odds as the season unfolds. 

 

Photo by Jessica O'Connor

Mickey, Michel and Frances
 

After 68 years of marriage, Frances and Mickey want nothing more than to “be here for a few more years” and to see Buffalo win a Stanley Cup.  They have been devoted Sabres fans since the franchise began in 1970, living through Buffalo’s ups and downs after settling here when Mickey returned from WWII and found work at the steel plant.  After Frances suffers a serious fall, they, along with their granddaughter, Michel, must face a new reality all while hoping that this is the year they win a Stanley Cup.

Photo by Michel Coffey

 
Renée and Hannah

After marrying Chris, an “uber-Sabres fan,” Renée moved from North Carolina to Buffalo. They raised their daughter, Hannah, as a Sabres fan until Chris passed away from a sudden, serious illness when Hannah was seven years old.  Now a teenager, Hannah struggles with acceptance from her peers and herself as she navigates growing up without her father.  Renée and Hannah remain steadfast Sabres fans as a way to stay connected to Chris.

Photo courtesy of Renée Tarrant

 

CREATIVE TEAM

Photo by The Studio on Seneca

Mary Wall grew up outside of Buffalo, NY, and after stints as a high school mathematics teacher and environmental engineer, she moved to Los Angeles where she worked on The Office and Parks and Recreation.  While there, she wrote digital material for The Office on NBC.com, including several webisodes. She earned a Writers Guild Nomination for Short Form New Media for one of those webisodes, “The Third Floor,” which she co-wrote with Jonathan Hughes and Kelly Hannon. She graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing. 

Mary Wall
Director/Producer

Blair Pennington is a documentary filmmaker and editor whose star is rapidly rising.  She is a 2018 graduate of the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University where she earned her BFA in News and Documentary.  Her short documentary, “How We Eat,” was a finalist in competition at the 2019 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. She has also had films premiere at the 2017 Beverly Hills International Film Festival and the 2017 Awareness Film Festival.  Blair currently lives in Los Angeles, where she continues to work in documentary filmmaking.

Blair Pennington
Editor

Photo by The Studio on Seneca

Raised in Eden, NY, Eric Wojtanik got his start producing low-budget independent projects before moving to Los Angeles to work in sitcom television. He has worked on several television series including Dads, Cristela, Lady Dynamite, Perfect Harmony and Speechless, where he earned a shared script-writing credit on the episode “Game Night”. He graduated from SUNY Oswego with a Bachelor of Arts in Cinema and Screen Studies and Creative Writing.  He received the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence upon graduation, the highest academic and extracurricular honor in the SUNY system.  

Eric Wojtanik
Producer

John has composed scores for over one hundred films and television series.  Notable titles include NBC’s Trial and Error and Go On, as well as the Emmy Award-Winning-Series How I Met Your Mother. On the feature film side, John composed original scores for Youth in Revolt, Employee of the Month, and Napoleon Dynamite, for which he won a Golden Satellite Award and received a Grammy nomination. John attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, and currently lives in Los Angeles where he continues to compose for feature films and television.

John Swihart
Composer