Local filmmaker releases the Ultimate documentary 

I Bleed Black follows the season of one of the most successful Ultimate clubs in the history of the sport

While most people tend to think of Ultimate as a relatively new sport, the University of California at Santa Barbara has been fielding a team since 1984.

Originally called "Ronnie’s Ranch Hands" after then-president Ronald Reagan’s California ranch, the following year the team was renamed the Black Tide to support a book written about the oil spills off the Santa Barbara Coast.

In its 18 years the Black Tide has become one of the top teams in the game, going to the national championships almost every year. They won three national titles in a row, from 1996 to 1998, came second in 1999, and made it to the semi-finals in 2000 and 2001.

One of the captains of the 2001 Black Tide team was Whistler’s Jamie Houssian, an aspiring filmmaker who produced the ski movie The Disciples and worked with Christian Begin on Kranked III. His latest project is a documentary on the Black Tide and their 2001 season.

"This is the ‘Hoop Dreams’ of Ultimate," said Houssian, who spent about six months with the team getting footage, and another eight months in Whistler editing the movie. He’s in the process of shopping the documentary out to film festivals in Toronto, Vancouver and the U.S., but is holding a preview screening in Whistler this Friday at Millennium Place.

"I played with this team for all five years of school, and last year we talked about putting something like this together and decided to go for it. Ultimate players will probably enjoy it, but so will the people who know nothing about the sport," said Houssian.

"We know how much drama and emotion goes into a season. All the training, all the tournaments, the conflicts between the players, the camaraderie between the players, winning, losing, everything."

After a while the players got used to the cameras being around, and as a result the footage of the team is very real and unscripted.

"We wanted the real feeling from the beginning, a raw and emotional approach," says Houssian. "I was the director, but I was in the movie at the same time so we had other people shooting for us a lot of the time, and as a result it has a real behind the scenes feeling. The guys speak like college guys speak. They don’t hold back because there’s a camera in their face."

The film is approximately 90 minutes in length, edited down from over 100 hours of footage, but moves along quickly with action footage of the team in games and in training. It’s shot like a ski movie, and if the trailer is any indication, the quality of the footage and sound is excellent.

This is the first time that someone has created a full length documentary on Ultimate Frisbee, despite the fact that it is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. It’s now played in more than 42 countries, and in Canada alone there are hundreds of teams and tens of thousands of players at the club, competitive and university level.

With that kind of audience out there, Houssian didn’t have any problems enlisting the Ultimate Players Association, Discraft and Gaia Ultimate gear as sponsors for the movie.

The Whistler screening of I Bleed Black is Friday at Millennium Place. The doors will open at 8 p.m. with an informal reception, and the show will start at 8:30 p.m. The cost is $5.

For more information on I Bleed Black, you can visit the official Web site at www.ibleedblack.com.


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