When Kim (Gogo, Founder & current President of BRR) and I first talked about the possibility of a promotional documentary for the Black Rose Rollers, I was immediately floored; the kind of floored that can only come from the prospect of working with people you care about on a project you deeply believe in.
Back up to the summer of 2010. My good friend Kim was starting a roller derby team, and I went to check out a few practices and see what it was all about. Most of the women who showed up had limited or no knowledge of the sport, how it was played, or most importantly, the amount of work that would need to go into getting a new team off the ground. They wore shorts and t-shirts, rented skates at the rink where they practiced, and had minimal to no gear with respect to helmets and pads. Sure there were a few who didn’t last, but most everyone had the same fire in their eyes. In their minds they saw the rink filling with fans. With every lap of conditioning they dreamt a name that had yet to exist in lights on a scoreboard. They envisioned their families, friends, and neighbors taking up an interest in the worlds fastest growing sport: Roller Derby.
After the first few initial visits, my involvement and knowledge of the team was reduced to the ocasional, “How’s everything with Derby?”, which as you could guess, could never bring justice to everything that was going on behind the scenes.
Fast forward to Winter 2011. My friend Luke and I decided to go see the derby girls in action at their bout. It had been such a long time since I’d seen the team, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but from hearing how hard everyone’s been working from Kim, the expectations were high. Before we even entered the property of the rink, my expectations were shattered. This had become something much bigger than I anticipated. At a rink where the parking lot seldom fills to capacity for even the most popular of events, Luke and I had to park down the street. We walked inside, and I saw everything they could have imagined at those first practices. There was a ticket booth with proceeds going to charity. The entire complex was packed with fans, family, and friends. Photographers were scrambling for every shot at every turn. They had a merch booth. They had sponsors. They had a digital scoreboard. They had an announcer. And they were very, very good. They were taking on teams who’d been around far long, and winning. Their t-shirts were replaced by real jerseys, with their numbers and derby names patched proudly on the back; and on the front, the team name. The Black Rose Rollers. I was so proud to see what could be accomplished in even a small town like Hanover, PA.
My brother and I enjoyed every part of this project, from form to event. We were able to learn and try new techniques and gear, and hang out with a really great group of people. It’s always nice when there’s cooperation on a set, but to be a part of such a large group of people so unwaveringly focused on a common goal for an entire production is something we haven’t experienced until we met the people behind The Black Rose Rollers.
A special thanks goes out to the 5 brave ladies who let us shine bright lights on them while we interviewed them: Gogo, Canade Grenade, Dennis the Menace, AssassinAsian, and Ram. We’d also like to thank the coach Groper for letting us film behind the scenes, Gary at Magic Elm for letting us run interviews after hours, Crossfit, every single Black Rose Roller, and everyone behind the scenes that allow them to continue to do the great things they do for the community. If you’re interested in checking out a bout (which we strongly recommend!) or want to know more about the Black Rose Rollers, head over to www.blackroserollers.com