The ultra competitive world of professional sports is daunting for any athletic hopeful, let alone Tampa Bay Lightning forward Cory Conacher. As we explore the young hockey star’s journey to the NHL, we discover that dealing with type 1 diabetes is just one of the many significant challenges he has had to face head-on, and overcome.
C. Hudson Hwang, director
The award-winning filmmaker Calvin Hudson Hwang was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. C. Hudson started performing as a youth with the St. Albert Children’s Theatre and gradually progressed to acting roles in commercials, film and television. Following a career in advertising that took him to London (UK), Toronto, San Francisco, and Montreal, C. Hudson transitioned to behind-the-camera after moving to Los Angeles to attend film school. His directorial works have screening internationally at festivals including Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, London, Milan, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Halifax, Ottawa, Berlin and throughout Germany. He is the creative force and executive producer behind the award winning documentary series Real Life Stories. His 3-part documentary series on psoriasis was awarded best patient education programming by the Canadian Dermatologist Association. C. Hudson resides in Toronto, where he is an alumni of Second City Toronto.
C. Hudson Hwang answered a few questions.
What inspired your film?
Cory Conacher is a uniquely inspiring individual. He’s so phenomenally talented and driven, yet exceedingly humble. He’s got this perpetual underdog status due to so many perceptual, physical or health-related factors. To capture his story in the context of the ultra competitive and ruthlessly corporate NHL hockey career really heightens how resilient and outstanding a person he is, which I hope translates to inspire anyone who has been told that they don’t quite fit the mold or faced a chronic health condition to set goals and chase their dream.
What was your biggest challenge in making your film?
The unpredictability of Cory’s status. When we locked pre-production of the film, Cory had just started the season with the Tampa Bay Lightning. At many points, we didn’t know whether Cory would be playing in New York or called back to Florida. For an independent film, there is no margin to accommodate unscheduled shoots across the country. It was nerve racking for us, and probably even more so for Cory.
What was the best part of the experience for you?
The constant rewrites were frustrating at the time, but in hindsight they were a real growth opportunity for me as a writer and filmmaker. It really forced me to be agile and creative, finding solutions while keeping the story and my cool intact. Going into the film, my intention was to buck the limitations of the typical sports film. From the feedback so far, I think we’ve been pretty successful in being relevant to a broad audience, including female viewers for which sport documentaries have historically had less appeal.
What advice would you give aspiring filmmakers?
Pick up a camera and make something. Be humble, listen and learn from everyone around you, and put in the time.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently filming a documentary short with Heritage Canada on racism during COVID-19, and a feature length on the fourth and final generation of Canada’s first family of sport.