BROSSARD – The start of the 2013-14 NHL campaign comes with benefits aplenty for Montrealers, one of which is a new season of the highly-anticipated documentary series 24CH.
With the season premiere set to debut on Saturday night on Canal D and RDS, the Canadiens invited members of the media to attend a screening of the first episode of the second season on Friday afternoon at the Bell Sports Complex alongside many of the principal figures involved in its production.
For Canadiens executive vice president and chief operating officer Kevin Gilmore, the newest incarnation of 24CH, produced this year by Attraction Media, is one that will offer up a captivating narrative that will draw Hab fans in throughout the year.
“Our goal coming out of last season was to create programming that was more compelling, that told stories. Last year, we had a show every month and it was hard to keep it all together. It was great in that it gave fans behind-the-scenes access, but it was more about the games than it was about the story behind the games,” confirmed Gilmore. “This year, we wanted to bring it up several notches so we’re going with a weekly show to make it timelier. We want to create a story that doesn’t only look at what happened on a particular week on the ice, but more the story behind the games that took place.”
Key in that venture will be 24CH’s ability to take a more in-depth approach this season to explore the lives of Canadiens players and staff members both on and off the ice.
“I think people see our players on Tuesday nights, Thursday nights and Saturday nights on the broadcast and in sound bites after the games, and it’s important for us to show people that these players work seven days a week over the course of the season,” mentioned Gilmore. “They interact with each other. We want to show the human side of the game; how they interact with the coaching staff and the training staff. We want to really bring to light the fact that they’re not just guys you see for two-and-a-half hours on Saturday nights.”
One man who knows that first-hand is 24CH content writer and producer Stephane Laporte, who was brought on board alongside associate producer Justin Kingsley, producer Stephane Tremblay and executive producer Olivier Languedoc to oversee the project in 2013-14. Laporte's work on 24CH is nothing short of a labor of love.
“Being able to immerse myself in the daily activities of the Montreal Canadiens is the fulfillment of a childhood dream. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved the Canadiens. It’s in the genetic makeup of a lot of people in Montreal. It a big privilege to be able to tell their story,” praised Laporte, who is the production designer for the Quebec adaptations of Star Academie, Le Banquier and La Voix. “It’s a big challenge to be able to produce a weekly program. That’s what will make 24CH as current as possible. That was important for us.”
Despite a hectic work schedule, Laporte is quick to admit that the opportunity to work on 24CH was one he simply couldn’t turn down.
“My schedule is really packed. When the offer to work on 24CH came to my attention, it was the only thing I could add to my calendar. When I typically get a work-related phone call, I always find a way to say no to something because I truly don’t have the time. I couldn’t find it in my heart to say no to the offer to be a part of this project,” confided Laporte. “I sleep even less than I did before, but I’m used to it.”
While Laporte may be acclimated to life with little rest in his line of work, Canadiens players are also becoming increasingly comfortable with having their every movement captured on film. Having already had 24CH cameras alongside them at home and on the road in 2012-13, players like Francis Bouillon are growing more accustomed to the practice of being followed wherever they go in their day job.
“Last year, it was kind of a situation where we didn’t really know what to expect, but this year with the experience we had, it was good because we had a good season and they weren’t really in our faces all of the time,” mentioned Bouillon, who is one in a long line of returnees set to appear on 24CH. “There are a lot of hidden cameras in the room and we don’t really see them. That helps us to be more natural.”
Like many of his charges, head coach Michel Therrien also believes that partaking in the 24CH project is becoming second nature.
“We’re used to it. Like it or not, you have a tendency to pay close attention the first few times because you know the cameras are there,” mentioned Therrien. “I challenge you to have meetings with your bosses or when you’re having dinner at home and there’s a cameraman at your dinner table. In the beginning, you pay attention to how you eat, but over time you get used to it and you might drop some food and tell yourself it isn’t a big deal.”
Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.
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