What do you get when you give six Ryerson Radio and Television Arts students a chance to create documentary over a summer and fall? They create with The Dream Gap, that’s what you get.
On January 11th at the Paradise Theatre in Toronto, Ailish Forfar, Camryn Kern, Will Jurczynski, Max Lewis, Sarah Owen and Laura Ball debuted to the world their women’s hockey documentary.
The film takes a look at the showcase tour being put on by the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association that came out of the demise of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League and dissatisfaction towards the operation of the National Women’s Hockey League.
The Dream Gap was shot at various tour stops this past summer and fall across Ontario and in the US. That said, it’s not about the various pro players barnstorming from city to city.
This film showcases the true gaps in the women’s game in various aspects compared to the men’s game. Many women in the hockey world can’t afford to play pro hockey for a living, and for those who played in the CWHL they had to pay to play.
The barriers extended beyond pay. They included a lack of proper locker rooms or not having space to warm up before games, two things that would be automatic to have for pro players in the men’s game.
You also see two common themes in the movie:
-The idea that no one cares about women’s hockey is a giant myth. On every stop you see families, youth hockey players and everyone else in between packing the arenas for games.
- This tour has shown that this is not a US vs Canada thing. Players from both the US and Canadian national teams (including Hilary Knight and Marie Phillip-Poulin), over 100 in total, are working together with the goal of creating an alternative North American pro hockey league for women.
After the film, I had the chance to sit down with Ailish Forfar, the producer for the film, whose also a member of Yahoo Sports Canada’s on air content team to get into the summer long project.
Forfar also played in the CWHL with Markham and had long had connections with many of the players in the film. Making sure their story was told was very important to her as someone who has first hand experience as a professional player in women’s hockey.
“I felt a lot of responsibility to tell this story, their story, right. They’re my friends, my colleagues, my teammates so there’s a lot of pressure in a sense to be like I want to tell this the right way and at the same time there’s a lot of opportunity to tell this the right way,” Forfar began. “I think we did the right thing, hearing the positivity that people have shared in the last 20 minutes after it ended, that’s when you’ve done the right testament to women’s hockey. This inspires me to want to do more”.
The Dream Gap Tour has also surpassed the realm of hockey. The Chicago stop of this tour was sponsored by the Magellan Corporation and Billie Jean King Enterprises, a corporation created by the tennis legend Billie Jean King. Jean King appears in the film and has been an ardent supporter of the Dream Gap Tour and what the PWHPA has been doing to raise the standards for women’s hockey.
The Grand Slam champ and founder of the Women’s Tennis Association sat down with Forfar. It was a moment in which Ailish was able to look past the excitement of having her in Dream Gap and saw her as someone who truly wants to chat about helping to get hockey for women to the next level.
“She wants to help, she was so easy to speak to, and the fact that she’s taken such a caring look for what women’s hockey is doing is because she knows there’s potential and having that backing of someone who’s been through it, that knows this movement can do the same thing. I don’t know what else you want, I think it’s the perfect person to support the PWHPA”.
With the success of the Dream Gap tour, taking it to even more cities and even out of North America is key to Fofar. She believes it will be big to raising the profile of what these women are doing for hockey and for the future growth of the game.
“The more countries, cities, towns, continents we can touch, the better. I’ve heard rumors about going international and I think that would be an amazing thing for them to do. It’s been eight months since we started this, we’ve already touched six different cities. We could touch more. We could grow the game. What if you meet one fan in that city that’s inspired? You’ve done your part.”
Much like the Tour, Forfar and company now will work on getting the film in front of as many eyes as possible to bring even more attention to the women’s game.