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New Edmonton Oilers opening video incites ‘goosebumps, chills’

Click to play video: 'City of Edmonton plays starring role in new Oilers video' City of Edmonton plays starring role in new Oilers video
WATCH ABOVE: Whether on social media or at Rogers Place, many Edmontonians have probably already seen the new video that plays ahead of Edmonton Oilers games. But this video is not like ones seen in past years. Emily Mertz takes a closer look at a video being described as raw and gritty and why the director says that was intentional – Oct 24, 2016

When Edmonton filmmaker Michael Maxxis set out to create the Edmonton Oilers’ new opening video, he wanted it to be more than a highlight reel.

“It wasn’t about making a glossy, cool, slick video for my ego or anyone’s. It was about capturing a city that I care about, a team and players that I care about, blending them together and hoping that it has an impact on the citizens of this city and anyone who sees it.”

READ MORE: Edmonton Oilers officially launch era of new arena 

Yes, the video includes game highlights and shots from the new Rogers Place arena. It also features community hockey rinks, train tracks, a refinery, the High Level Bridge and a ball hockey game on Enoch Cree First Nation.

“It’s gritty and it’s kind of dark,” Maxxis explained. “This is edgier, unvarnished, gritty, raw.

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It’s less of a fanfare and more of a heartbeat.

“There is a tonal element to the music that creates a slightly dark spirit but I think it’s important to embrace that as human beings as well. It can be a very inspiring sort of strata to be existing within.”

Over the course of a 10-day shoot, Maxxis got to know the athletes more personally, which was pretty thrilling for a lifelong Oilers fan.

“The personalities of them all was probably the greatest surprise out of everything,” Maxxis said. “It’s actually made me a bigger fan of the team, just based on how kind-spirited every single guy on that team was. Sure, there’s the nicest guy on the whole team or the quirkiest or the funniest, but none of them were cold, none of them were distant, none of them were mean. They were just all very engaging, kind and present and incredible listeners at taking direction.”

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READ MORE: Optimism in the air as Edmonton Oilers prepare to start NHL season 

In fact, Maxxis said the players were much better at taking direction than musicians. He credits, in part, their aptitude for coaching.

Maxxis has directed a slew of music videos, including spots for Elle King, KAOS, Billy Talent and Our Lady Peace. That training and experience came in handy on the Oilers shoot.

“We kind of still had to guerrilla the shoot a little bit. We had to hustle it and music video production and directing teaches you to hustle and complete your project by any means necessary.”

A technique he used from the film side of his training helped get the players to forget the cameras were there and tap into genuine emotions.

“Benoit Pouliot, he spent five minutes or more meditating on recreating the feeling of an injury that he had and when he walked into the shower scene he limped into it,” Maxxis said.

“I used a bunch of sort of heavier acting techniques with them to put them into unique head spaces. It’s probably the thing I’m proud of most in the video. If you watch it, you see that they don’t seem conscious of the camera, they don’t seem stiff, they’re elsewhere in their mind and in their spirit.

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“I think the performances they gave are incredibly sincere and believable which is very rare for this sort of thing.”

As much as the video is a tribute to the players and the team, it’s also a tribute to the city.

“I knew the feeling that I wanted to capture based on the architecture, the city, just the city’s energy itself and the ethos of the people,” Maxxis said. “I started looking for those sorts of locations that I felt reflected the qualities that people here possess: the accountability, the loyalty, the integrity, there’s just a clarity that exists with Edmontonians; I don’t feel like they’re lost or they’re trying to be something they’re not.”

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A shot from the Oilers' new opening video by Michael Maxxis. YouTube: Edmonton Oilers 2016-17 Opening Video
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A shot from the Oilers' new opening video by Michael Maxxis. YouTube: Edmonton Oilers 2016-17 Opening Video
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A shot from the Oilers' new opening video by Michael Maxxis. YouTube: Edmonton Oilers 2016-17 Opening Video
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A shot from the Oilers' new opening video by Michael Maxxis. YouTube: Edmonton Oilers 2016-17 Opening Video
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A shot from the Oilers' new opening video by Michael Maxxis. YouTube: Edmonton Oilers 2016-17 Opening Video

He tried to reflect that authenticity in the video itself.

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“The filmmakers – and the photographers – many of them that have shot Edmonton maybe wish they were living (in) or shooting New York. I feel like there’s a disconnect between the people who have shot it and the other 99 per cent of people who live here.

“The people who live here know what it is and I wanted to, for once, to shoot it for what it is.”

It seems that pride and that honesty is being well-received. It’s been viewed 140,000 times on Facebook and another 35,000 on YouTube.

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“It’s been cool because I’ve even seen some comments from Toronto Maple Leaf fans and Calgary Flames fans saying: ‘I hate the Oilers but I’ve got to admit this video’s great. I wish we had one,'” Maxxis said with a smile. “And people saying: ‘goosebumps, chills’ and ‘watching it 100 times’ and ‘wow, this is inspiring. Makes me proud to be from Edmonton.'”

That was all part of the goal, Maxxis explained. To “help nudge” people towards being more and more proud of the city they call home and of the team that brings them together.

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