Published on October 17th, 2011 | by DerbyLife0
This Is How I Roll – A story about men who want to hit like girls
By filmmaker Kat Vecchio
“You know, this would make a good film.” I really can’t remember which one of us said it. It was late, and I’m pretty sure we were drinking. The conversation had turned to men’s roller derby. Maulin’ Brando was a new member of the New York Shock Exchange, New York City’s only men’s roller derby team. It was March of 2008 and men playing modern flat track roller derby was new and not everyone was a fan. I was in my third, and what would be my last, season as a skater with Gotham Girls Roller Derby. I was part of the derby community in that way you can only be if you’re a skater. I was at the bouts, the after parties, on the message boards, and privy to conversations that would have never happened around outsiders, let alone members of the media. As Maulin’ and I talked that night I think we both realized that we were staring at a turning point in roller derby. The sport and culture of roller derby evolves quickly, we knew if we really wanted to tell this story we had to start right then.
The New York Shock Exchange was about to head to Chicago for a halftime bout against the Midwest Men’s Roller Derby – a team made up of men from multiple cities across the Midwest. Shortly after that there would be the first Men’s Derby Conference, held by the newly minted Men’s Derby Coalition. A few emails were sent off to the Shock Exchange, would they mind if I came to some practices, followed them in Chicago, and crashed MDC I? “Sure, no problem!” was the answer that came back from the team. In fact, it was the answer that came back from Pioneer Valley’s Dirty Dozen, The Harm City Homicide, the fledgling Connecticut Death Quads and every other men’s team I filmed. As they say in my business, I received unprecedented access.
I should stop here for a moment, and point out that this is not how you start to make a film. You are supposed to do research, write proposals and treatments, try to raise some money and most importantly have a clear plan, a timeline, before you start to shoot. Then again, I suppose you could say that a few women deciding to start a roller derby team while having some beers at a local bar is not exactly how you are supposed start an international sports phenomenon either. The same scrappy DIY ethic that got roller derby started is also what makes independent films happen.
Back to that unprecedented access I was talking about. Besides being allowed at countless practices, bouts, inside locker rooms (ya’ll strip down in front of just about anyone!), and even on team benches during bouts, the overwhelming support the project received is what allowed it to happen. More than once I was filming at a bout and a skater came up, tapped me on the shoulder, and let me know about an impromptu meeting that was starting, or pointed me towards someone they thought I should talk to.
In a way, it has taken a derby village to make this film. When we started post production a year ago, we held an initial online fundraising campaign to get things moving. The support was amazing, and from as far away as Australia! That fundraising campaign also connected us to a fantastic network of people who have wanted to become involved. Wakkopath and Kiki D Vil (skater and refs with Dallas Derby Devils and the Dallas Deception) swooped in to help with our website and created something fantastic. Point N Shoot (Long Island Roller Rebels) shot some wonderful promo shots for us. Angelo Death (former NYSE skater) is creating the amazing graphics package for the film.
I could keep listing names, but that wouldn’t make for a very interesting read! I love that This Is How I Roll has such strong ties to the roller derby community. It is not just a film about roller derby, it is a film about roller derby created and supported by skaters.
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