INTERVIEW WITH THE FILMMAKERS OF DERBY BABY: A STORY OF LOVE, ADDICTION, AND RINK RASH
By: St. Violentine (Priscilla Boksan)
Anyone who plays or avidly watches roller derby knows it has a certain “je ne sais quoi.” The unique blend of individual expression and athleticism, along with the sense of community it offers, can easily go from being fulfilling and empowering to downright addictive. The upcoming derby documentary, Derby Baby: A Story of Love, Addiction, and Rink Rash, is filmmakers Robin Bond and Dave Wruck’s effort to shed some light on the infectious nature and culture of roller derby, where the sport stands today, and where it’s going in the future. Juliette Lewis, known to both derby and film fans as “Iron Maven” from Drew Barrymore’s 2009 feature film on roller derby, Whip It, narrates the film.
ACDG: In making “Derby Baby,” did you get an idea of its common draw to derby girls?
ROBIN: Absolutely. For some reason that I couldn’t explain, I instantly related to the skaters’ love for this sport. I was attracted to derby the first time I saw it, but I couldn’t quite say why. When I started to realize how attached and how passionate and personally involved with it they were, it seemed different from any other topic or sport that I had looked at. So Dave and I wanted to hear everybody’s take on what is this thing. It’s kind of elusive. People don’t get this attached to their soccer teams. We’re still trying to get our arms around what it is that’s so addictive about it.
DAVE: We’re trying to figure it out, but at the same time we know what it is. There’s that magic term in sports, called the “It Factor.” The top athletes have the “It Factor.” You can’t explain what it is, but everyone knows what it is. It’s what makes Lance Armstrong or Sean White or any of those people great. The sport of roller derby itself has this “something factor” that everybody latches onto. We know what it is, but like everybody else, we can’t tangibly show it or explain it, but were just trying to convey the point that something’s there and everyone latches onto it and it becomes addictive.
ACDG: The “It Factor” seems analogous to the qualities of anyone captivating, like celebrities in the entertainment industry. These players are totally worshipped by girls.
ROBIN: It’s like a charisma factor in the sport.
DAVE: It’s one of the many things we talk about it the film. We’re comparing it to not only other sports, but even rock bands. It seems to be going down that line so at some point, you’re going to have to develop a rockstar. Suzy Hotrod seems to be the one walking away with that title, but there needs to be more than just Suzy. More rockstars means more fans. And promoting matchups between rockstars (and teams for that matter) creates story arcs which fans love to follow.
ACDG: Was it the goal of Derby Baby to illustrate this elusive “It Factor?” Or did you have something else in mind?
ROBIN: There were so many themes that presented themselves in this film that we had to narrow them down to make it into a manageable story. Of course, in this journey we do look at how does this sport compare to other sports if we’re going to talk about media coverage, going professional, or whether it can be an Olympic sport. Several people we interviewed compared it to skateboarding. Every sport that we looked at that had similar qualities seemed to be propelled by a rockstar.
So that was one of the many rabbit holes that we got into in this film: “Who’s the girl that’s gonna be the poster child for derby?” There are so many talented people, but again, it’s kind of a mix of the type of person who has the star power as well as who is also willing to embrace the rockstar quality.
DAVE: When I finished [attending and filming my first bout], I had a million questions. So Robin said, “Let’s dig in,” and we started buying every derby DVD we could find: “Hell On Wheels,” “Blood on the Flat Track,” and “Brutal Beauty,” which I think had just come out. And after every single documentary I watched, I went “This doesn’t answer any of my questions.” They were decent and interesting, but they were specific as to how a league came together, not necessarily about the overall picture of roller derby.
So my overall goal with the film was to answer my questions and those of any person who had any inclination to walk into a bout and actually watch a game just to see what it was. We wrote down the list of questions: “Why aren’t people getting paid?” “Why is it all volunteer?” “Who runs this thing?” “Why are these people doing this?” and “What’s with the names?” We just had a million questions and started answering them.
ROBIN: I also had questions because as I was so drawn to the sport. Of course I was thinking, “Yeah, I bet I could do this sport. This looks like it could be fun, I like to roller skate. What’s involved?” But it’s so much more. I started digging a little deeper and found out the skaters drive downtown to practice three times a week, they risk injury, and nobody’s getting paid! And then it became even more intriguing because the question now was: “How can anybody like me be able to do this without sacrifice?” And then that elevated the question to: “Who are these characters that are these skaters?”
Tiger Bay Brawlers present the Welsh premiere of Derby Baby!
Tiger Bay Brawlers are delighted to announce that we’re going to be holding the Welsh premiere of Derby Baby!
We know you’ve all heard about it, but for more info here’s a brief synopsis:
“For the first time ever, the story of women’s roller derby is covered from both a national and international perspective, as Emmy Award-winning filmmakers Robin Bond and Dave Wruck take you with them on their international quest to learn why women’s flat track roller derby is the fastest growing sport in the world.
Derby, Baby! explores the drama, the friendships, and the addictive nature of the women’s flat-track roller derby, including never-before-seen bout footage of the international flat-track roller derby champions….”
The Tiger Bay Brawler screening will be held in Cardiff on Thursday 20 September from 8pm. Tickets are just £6.50 each so round up your derby friends (and your non-derby ones, actually) to join us for this very exciting evening.
NEWS FLASH: ONLINE TICKET SALES WILL BE CLOSING TONIGHT.
There will be tickets available to buy on the door, however these will not enter you into the prize draw to win tickets to our next home bout (vs. Dolly Rockit Rollers on Saturday 13 October). If you do want to win those tickets (and save yourself £14!) then you do need to buy your tickets in advance today!
Derby, Baby! is going to be shown in Charleston, South Carolina on October 20th at 7:30. If you like underground films, this is the event for you! The film will have an opener by LCHR’s very own photographer, Badjon. After that, there will be a viewing of the most anticipated derby film of all time, Derby, Baby. This is literally the film we have been waiting for, for almost two years. Now we will have the chance to watch it and share it with all of you! Come out to the Olde North Charleston Picture House to see this. There will be derby girls and drink specials at The Sparrow for the afterparty. This film is not yet rated, and may involve some profanity. RSVP to the event on facebook for more info!
Derby, Baby! See the Welsh premiere and win some prizes!
Not only can you get to watch Derby Baby! with the Brawlers, AND have a chance to win two tickets for our next home bout (when you buy your film tickets in advance from www.tigerbaybrawlers.com), we’re also giving you the chance to win some amazing headphones from Skullcandy’s Supreme Sound range in our Derby Baby! raffle.
1st prize - a pair of Supreme Sound Aviators (worth £150)
2nd prize - a pair of Supreme Sound Hesh (worth £60)
3rd prize - a pair of Supreme Sound Uprock (worth £25)
The Welsh premiere of Derby, Baby is happening THIS THURSDAY at The Gate in Cardiff. We’re super excited to be hosting the event and can’t wait to see Derby, Baby ourselves.
Tickets are just £6.50 in advance from www.tigerbaybrawlers.com and if you buy yours in advance you’ll be entered into a prize draw to win tickets to our next home bout on Saturday 13 October. How cool is that?
It gets cooler…
Not only that but we’ll be holding a raffle on Thursday night to win some awesome headphones courtesy of our friends at Skullcandy.