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by Joseph DeBenedictis / Buffalo Sabres

There’s only so much you can plan for, as previously mentioned by my colleague Mark Blaszak in his post about Zach Bogosian's BBG. The plan for this latest episode was to document the team's holiday visit to Roswell Park Cancer Institute, but what came out of that, well that's what we couldn’t plan for. This is my recollection of two breakthrough moments where I was able to envision what this BBG was going to be.

On the way over to Roswell, our videographer Travis Carlson got to drive along with Brian Gionta. When I watched that driving scene, that's when the first breakthrough moment came. From that scene, I saw all of what this episode could be – instead of just the visit to Roswell, which in itself is very special.

During that driving scene, Travis had a real, honest, and insightful conversation with Gionta. He then went with him to visit patients at Roswell, a place where you can really reflect upon your own life, while seeing the difficulty and strength of others.

I had so many things flying around in my mind, mostly consisting of the assets we would need – visuals if you will – to be able to tell the story revolving heavily around Brian Gionta and that career-reflecting conversation. We had an impromptu group meeting after I went through the footage from Roswell so I could attempt to spit the ideas in my head out to our videographers and producer.

Most of it was probably inaudible because I was talking too fast, but something must have been heard, because we came out of the meeting with a plan of action.

Over the next day or two, we were at First Niagara Center, capturing some art shots of the game that night, shots of Gionta in action and shots of him walking into the locker room and down the never-ending hallways of the arena.

Then we had a weekend to decompress and let the idea settle.

Letting time pass, and doing other things is something I feel that is very important when doing anything creative. It allows for external forces to influence the idea, fuel inspiration and see it in a different way. It sort of gives you time to let the idea continue to develop in its own way without really forcing it to.

Here’s what happened…

I was about to go for a long drive and wanted some new music to listen to. In passing, I started to like an artist named Vance Joy (just from one song I heard) so I downloaded his whole album.

I started on my drive and five tracks in came a song called “From Afar.” It sounded good. The song kept you guessing as to where it was going to go next. Then halfway through, it changes completely and one line is repeated continuously: “It shouldn’t come as a surprise, what I’m feeling’, what I’m feeling’ now.”

At that moment came the second breakthrough.

The lyrics, the tone and the style for me connected it to – in a way – what Gionta was trying to say, and ultimately, what the core of this Beyond Blue and Gold episode was about. I think I listened to that song about 15 more times on the drive, all while envisioning editing the sound bites and visuals we had for the episode over that song.

Now I couldn’t use the song in the actual piece because of copyright laws, but if you notice, all the music in the episode has a similar feel to “From Afar.” In fact, I spent about two hours scouring our music library at 1:30 in the morning to find anything similar.

Throughout the weekend, I let this new inspiration take over. And come Monday I knew what to do.

Two days later, I had most of what you see in that episode now, but I had help. It was our videographers, my colleagues, and the wonderful writing and narration of Brian Duff that made this thing sing.

When editing, I channeled Brian’s ability to write transitions with words connected to the visuals and left it open for him to come in and do just that. We spent a couple hours going over the sections I had for him, particularly the end where we went second by second, determining when the narration should come in, when it should pause, and what should be said. He wrote some great stuff and really put the final touches on it that I was hoping for. I’ve personally coined them “Transitional Dufferisms”. See if it catches on.

We showed it to our producer Michelle Girardi, who had some very important suggestions that tied a tight bow on the whole thing – not to mention setting up the Gionta driving scene and the Roswell visit. I must thank Michelle for letting me sort of run wild with the idea I saw for this. That support was what allowed this episode to become what it is.

It was a crazy five days from what we envisioned to completion, but well worth it, especially knowing that there was a Christmas break as a reward, I guess. I hope you enjoy the episode as much as I had putting it together, 'cause I really had fun with this one.

Oh, I should mention that after getting the episode to where I wanted it, I put in that Vance Joy song in as the ending music track for my own enjoyment, just to see… I can sleep now.

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