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Corner Brook sisters found inspiration for new film in their father’s poetry

Director Adriana Maggs is seen with actor Mark O’Brien during the filming of “Goalie.” Maggs, a Corner Brook native, co-wrote the film with her sister, Jane Maggs. Photo courtesy of Mongrel Media
Director Adriana Maggs is seen with actor Mark O’Brien during the filming of “Goalie.” Maggs, a Corner Brook native, co-wrote the film with her sister, Jane Maggs. Photo courtesy of Mongrel Media - Contributed

When Randall Maggs wrote “Night Work: The Sawchuk Poems” more than 10 years ago he didn’t realize the impact it had on his daughters. 

Randy Maggs' book, "Night Work: The Sawchuk Poems,” was a big part of why the movie "Goalie" was made.
Randy Maggs' book, "Night Work: The Sawchuk Poems,” was a big part of why the movie "Goalie" was made.

“You don’t think your kids are interested in anything you do,” the Steady Brook poet, and retired academic, said.

But Adriana Maggs and Jane Maggs, who grew up in Corner Brook, were so struck by the book that it has formed the basis for “Goalie,” a feature film written by the sisters about the life of hockey legend Terry Sawchuk, which will be released on March 1.

“I just loved the book so much,” said Adriana, who also directed the film.

“It is about hockey and it’s about Terry Sawchuk, but it’s also about his haunted life and it’s about mortality.”

She also said the book had a candidness about it and it wasn't just a triumphant story.

She said that was something she and Jane responded to as it just seemed a little bit different than most explorations of a hockey player’s life.

Among the poems are ones that tell of when Sawchuk and the Boston Bruins came to Newfoundland, events that Adriana said felt so relevant to her.

“There was something about the character that he portrayed … Terry Sawchuk who was an absolute warrior, who was a hero, but who was also haunted," she said. "It was just like he could never love himself.”

When the fans liked him he was good enough, but when they didn’t then he was a terrible person, said Adriana.

It gave her an understanding of what a goalie’s life is like and the pressure that they are under.

When the sisters read David Dupuis’ biography “Sawchuk: The Troubles and Triumphs of the World’s Greatest Goalie,” on which the film is also based, they were able to confirm what they got from their father’s poems and able to explore the story in that way.

Randy had been approached before about turning the book into a film.

Not knowing anything about it he took the idea to Adriana, who said she wanted to do it.

“That was the first I ever heard that she had any interest in doing that,” he said. And obviously, he was much more interested in having her take it on.

In 2010-2011 the sisters approached friend and producer Daniel Iron with the idea for the film. Adriana said she thinks her dad's book really sold it.

The process was a bit nerve-wracking for the poet, however. Randy said when he saw a first draft of the screenplay he started thinking of how he’d change it. But with the realization this was her project, and not his, he started to pull back.

He was happy though when Jane was brought in on the project as he was a little skeptical of Adriana's hockey knowledge.

The film had a $5-million budget, and while that’s a low budget for movies it did take a while to raise the funds. Filming took place last February, primarily in Sudbury, Ont.

Randy was there for part of it and said it was enthralling to watch. He even forgot the film was based on his book.

For the most part, he kept his mouth shut, but there was one point when he heard Mark O’Brien, who plays Sawchuk, shout from the dressing room "I’m standing on my head."

Randy, who comes from a hockey family, figured the proper expression was "I’m standing on my head out there." He told Adriana it had to be changed and the next time he heard O’Brien say it, it was the right way.

“I think that was my soul contribution."

Film facts

Curveless crease

The ice at the arena used in the film was re-poured so that it had the right crease lines in it. The crease is rounded now and it was square during the time in which the movie is set.

Family affair

Both Adriana’s and Jane’s children appear in the film.

Adriana’s son, Owen Maggs, 17, plays the role of Terry Sawchuk’s older brother at the beginning of the movie.

Jane’s son, Wynn Laforet, 6, and daughter Georgia Laforet, 4, appear as two of Terry Sawchuk’s seven children.

A little help from some friends

The movie also features Newfoundlanders Joel Thomas Hynes, Jonny Harris and Kate Corbett

“When you know people that are so talented, they have to do things for you," said Adriana Maggs.

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