Documentary explores demolition derby culture at Western Speedway
Todd Harris and his brother Troy jumped into the manic culture of demolition derby at Western Speedway over the past two years. But the documentary filmmakers didn’t really understand the drivers until one of them got behind the wheel.
For their film Demo Dummies, being debuted at the Caprice Theatre next Wednesday, Todd strapped himself into a demo car for a bout of high-speed hit-to-pass racing.
“It was amazing,” Todd said. “it’s the greatest thing I ever did in my life.”
His biggest fear was crashing and killing his brother who was filming at the side of the track, but Troy survived. Todd’s novice driving did cause a bit of a delay at the speedway – a 10 car crash. It’s called demolition derby for a reason.
“He caused the biggest pile up on the front stretch in five years,” remarked long-time hit-to-pass driver Keith Hansen, a.k.a Dr. Death.
Hansen, who is interviewed in the documentary and watched Todd pull together footage at the speedway, recommended the filmmaker get close and personal with the sport.
“(Driving) made me understand what these guys go through when they get in the cars,” Todd said.
Troy, a teacher at Belmont secondary school and founder of a school in Nepal, has been helping his brother shoot the film for the past two and a half years. Todd has been in the film industry for 12 years in Los Angeles, Toronto and Vancouver, working as a camera operator and director on more than 100 projects.
This is Todd’s first project where he has full control over the finished film. It is his baby – he wrote, directed, scored and played the music, and funded the $150,000 production. CBC television has bought the movie rights for a year.
The film explores the unusual characters and traditions of the sport, including free bread tossed into the stands. “It’s just like the Romans used to do,” Troy said. “People like free bread.”
“It tries to be truthful, it’s a trip into the lives of the drivers … also the trophy girls and what’s it’s like to be the wife of a driver,” Todd said. “This isn’t just a film of highlight reels of cars smashing into each other, there is some real meat to it.”
Over the years of shooting the documentary at the speedway, Todd fell back in love with his hometown and moved back to Langford with his wife and two children.
The Harris brothers have always had a special place in their hearts for hit-to-pass racing. They grew up in Langford and they spent much of their time at the track.
“We tried stock cars, but it seemed boring to watch then drive in circles and waiting for a crash,” Todd said. “Then we found a sport that was nothing but accidents.”
The film will debut at the Caprice Theatre, 777 Goldstream Ave. on March 28, 8 p.m. About half of the tickets for the film are sold. For advance tickets call Todd at 778-440-4431.
See www.demodummies.com for more details.