Film Notes

Ideas, scenes and concepts explained for…

The Heartbreak of Johnny Canuck

Our general philosophy for storytelling and visuals is that everything should have a purpose, symbolize something or suggest into the following shot. Here’s a few in practice from “The Heartbreak of Johnny Canuck”.

The Cave Scene
In the opening scene we see Johnny get closer to the bear shot by shot, with each shot getting tighter and tighter in the frame. We wanted it to feel more and more claustrophobic as the scene progressed, as we wanted to convey the feeling of the game 7 loss. The game had little to celebrate, and it was a slow and painful realization that we would not win the Stanley Cup. We wanted the scene to feel that way too, followed by nightmare realization it was all over, as portrayed in the Stanley Cup nightmare scene.

The Lone Tree-
A lone tree stands in a barren wheat field. We wanted this tree to represent a few things, including both the “one bad day” that Johnny could not overcome, but also as an obstacle in Johnny’s life that he must deal with in order to move on. As we see in the final scene, Johnny does return to take down the tree and battle once again.
We also wanted the tree to represent the idea that next year Johnny won’t be defeated by any one single obstacle or single day in his quest for redemption.

Johnny’s Beard-
Johnny’s beard serves a few purposes in the wheat field scene as well as later on in the film.
In the wheat field, the beard’s visual purpose is to obviously suggest that time has past since the bruin battle, and also suggests Johnny has let himself go since the loss.
As a metaphor we wanted the beard to represent the playoffs, as beards do, and that he hasn’t let go of that final day of the playoffs. Once the beard goes, Johnny’s drive to succeed returns as seen in the shaving scene later in the film.

Canucks logo framing FX-
You might have noticed the Canucks logo frames (the orange/yellow circle, the blue/green box and the flying V) serve as a scene transition, but are not perfectly centered as they complete their transition, until the mood shift when Johnny puts his toque back on.
We wanted this off balance of graphics to reflect the underlying story that haunts Johnny in this particular film. His pursuit of excellence fell one game short, but it was still an amazing journey. The graphics effect this unbalanced result and the conflict Johnny experiences through most of this film.
Only until the Johnny replaces his toque (bordered by the flying V) and in the final ice logo scene (with the circle graphic) are the graphics symmetrically balanced in the frame, as Johnny has resolved his mental struggles and focuses on next year’s redemption.
Did we need to do this or does this really matter? Absolutely not.

Hockey and sports in general are riddled with numbers and time, and we base a lot of ideas in the Johnny Canuck films around the game’s key numbers.
In the opening Cave scene, we begin with the opening shot of the night sky and moon, this represented the one final game winner take all.
4 more shots of the cave scene follow, representing the 4 losses. You’ll notice this pattern loosely followed in the first film “My Name is Johnny Canuck” as well, with the Ranger scene played out in 4 shots, as well as the Islander scene. Johnny also had 3 different axes in the first film, each representing a time the Canucks have reached the final.
Of course ideal editing sometimes sneaks in an extra shot if we feel it needs it, but we plan to these numbers.

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