To The Worlds, A CBC Documentary – The Story Behind the Story

L-R: Isabella Ciocoiu; Donna Bergvinson; Karen Smith; Wendy Ord; Maureen Barnes; and Henrietta Penney

It was a “filmmaker’s dream come true.”

Independent filmmaker, assistant director, and adult figure skater, Wendy Ord, wanted to produce a documentary on adult skaters – ages 46 to 77 – who travel from Kelowna, BC to the ISU Adult Figure Skating Competition in Oberstdorf, Germany.

Including 59-year-old Ord.

Ord, and her partner Glenn, started to shoot the documentary in 2016 – when Germany wasn’t on the radar. Four adult skaters were followed by Ord and her partner, chronicling their lives on and off-ice.

“We were doing it on our own dime,” said Ord, in a phone interview. “Just following these four women. Me, being one of them. Then we had to drop it because we had a paying gig.”

In the fall of 2017, the Kelowna skaters decided to travel to Oberstdorf, Germany for the ISU Adult Figure Skating Competition.

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Ord thought, “This is too good of a story.” A group of adult skaters. Risking their careers, getting concussions, wanting to please parents, eyeing the podium. All to fulfil the dream of competing at the most prestigious adult skating competition.

Ord rebooted the documentary, but she ran into another snag: sponsorship. The adult skaters learned unless you’re selling chocolates for your child or raising money for a charity, gaining sponsorship for six adults hoping to travel to an international skating competition.

“We were going to car dealerships … and tried to get sponsorships,” said Ord. “But they wouldn’t because we weren’t, you know, young.”

It became a case of go big or go home. A teaser-trailer was cut for the documentary, and Ord submitted it to CBC Docs through their website.

“It takes six to eight weeks (to hear back),” said Ord. “And I was out of money to keep filming to be honest.’ ”

With the teaser-trailer went a “great pleading letter” saying, “Watching this teaser-trailer! Don’t close your email until you’ve watched this teaser-trailer. It will make you laugh! It will make you cry. I promise, it is for CBC’s audience. It’s Canadian!”

Ord applied the funding four days before Christmas in 2017. She didn’t expect a response until February – if she received one at all. Until, the unthinkable happened.

“I sent the teaser at nine o’clock in the morning, BC time to Toronto,” said Ord. “The next day, I had a call at nine the next morning. The head of CBC Docs called and said, ‘You’re in.'”

Ord received the green light on January 9, 2018 for the rest of the project.

“That was the best Christmas present in a gazillion years!” said Ord. “This never happens … I was working with a young filmmaker here and she helped Glenn and I cut the teaser-trailer. And it was fabulous.”

Each woman reveals why they were drawn to the ice, either by returning or starting to skate later in life. The reasons range from emotional to humorous.

“They all have very personal reasons,” said Ord.

At first glance, the movie appears to concentrate on adult figure skating – which is a misconception.

“The movie is very inspiring to anyone who feels age come on,” said Ord. “It gives the message that no matter what goes wrong, it’s okay … you can still get out there and make beautiful friendships along the way.

“Life deals us all hard knocks.”
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Photos: Bountiful Films
Tuesday, January 15, 2019:
An interview with Henrietta Penney, 77
Adult figure skater and Behavioural Analyst

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