The 60-second It’s in the Blood opens with a bleak industrial landscape, transforms into a series of hard cuts and ends with a stadium full of fans cheering an Oilers’ goal.
But before reaching that climax, the spot races through a miniature documentary of Edmonton hockey culture. Players prepare, fans reflect, mobs run through the street, a Camaro Z/28 burns rubber and an x-ray of a human skull flashes on screen, among other things.
“I really wanted to make it this epic journey,” explains Gonzalez. “I wanted it to really feel what it feels like at a game.”
The footage was shot by Michael Maxxis, a native Edmontonian director who creates work of rather exquisite intensity. After spending a week on location, he sent Gonzalez “about a thousand clips” of intense sports action, fun-loving group shots, natural landscapes, working factories and a handful of human x-rays.
“He was like, ‘man, I need like a really seasoned commercial editor to do this,’” Gonzalez remembers. “It was all really really beautiful stuff.”
The two had been working together since the early 2000s, when Gonzalez spent more than a decade with a select handful of post-houses in LA. Although they had mostly done music videos, Maxxis had seen enough of Gonzalez’s style to trust him with the footage.
“He already had an idea what I was going to do,” Gonzalez says.
The overall mood of the spot is “in the vain of Nike or Under Armour,” but the wide variety of Maxxis’ material allowed for much greater detail. According to Gonzalez, it portrayed Edmonton as a “very grounded and very blue collar town of hard working people.”
“I was really trying to connect the fans and the players and the town as one for the love of hockey,” he continutes. “When I saw hot rods and motorcycles, with hockey… you can’t go wrong.”
Like the visuals, the music by Christopher Bell builds as well. What begins as remote introspection grows into a triumphant march.
Chicago Recording Company’s Ian Scott handled the sound design and the mix. In addition to adding the real sensation of skates scraping on the ice, he obtained recordings of an actual train horn to get the same bellow that fills the Oilers’ stadium when the home team scores.