GCHS grad finalist in filmmaking competition


A 2011 Gloucester Catholic High School graduate is a finalist in a filmmaking competition for his documentary on former classmate and current NHL star Johnny Gaudreau.

Kieran McGirl’s “The Rise of Johnny Hockey” is one of 11 films created by student filmmakers that will be showcased on New England Sports Network (NESN)’s new series, NESN Next Producer, premiering on April 6 on the network.

McGirl, 22, a senior at Sacred Heart College in Connecticut, will vie with the 10 other filmmakers for the goal of winning $20,000 and a job opportunity with NESN.

During the competition, the students will gain advice from, and be mentored by, Tom Werner, chairman of the Boston Red Sox, and Brad Falchuk, co-creator and executive producer of “Glee” and “American Horror Story.” The two will also pick the ultimate winner.

“New England is a hot bed for young, creative minds and we wanted to highlight college filmmakers who are the next generation of storytellers from our area,” said Linda Pizzuti Henry, NESN Next Producer co-creator and co-producer, in a press release.

“In addition to showing their films, you’ll learn about the students on a personal level including the relationships involved in the making of their films,” she said.

Over the last several months, McGirl has been meeting with and filming Gaudreau and his family, to tell a six-and-a-half minute story about the journey of “Johnny Hockey” from a South Jersey youth being coached in hockey by his father, Guy; to winning the 2014 Hobie Baker award, as a member of the Boston College Eagles, as the best collegiate hockey player in the country; to scoring his first goal in his first game for the Calgary Flames; and to being named an NHL All-Star for last January’s game.

Kieran’s uncle, Shaun O’Hagan, narrates the film.

The Gaudreau family “was more than happy” to help, McGirl said. He and Gaudreau attended Gloucester Catholic High School together, but the latter left in 2010 to attend Dubuque Senior High School in Dubuque, Iowa, and play for the school’s Fighting Saints, part of the United States Hockey League.

McGirl conducted interviews, and filmed and edited footage amidst an already-busy class schedule and other commitments.

In addition to being a communications/media studies major, with a concentration in film and television, with a minor in political science, the Sacred Heart student works as an intern for the Madison Square Garden (MSG) network, putting together sports highlights clips. He also reads scripts submitted to Darren Aronofsky, director of such films as “Noah” and “Requiem for a Dream.”

“This show is a great opportunity for me,” McGirl said, adding that the process of making the film forced him to make something “more professional” than he’s ever done before. “Now I know what it takes to make a real, professional film,” he said.

McGirl is the only finalist in the competition who is working solo; the other finalists are teams of two or more.

He encountered some obstacles, such as obtaining rights to footage of Gaudreau’s games. It was easy for him to show footage of Gaudreau’s prowess at Boston College, but securing NHL footage was more difficult.

“I wanted to show Johnny getting his first NHL goal,” but he wasn’t able to, McGirl said. “Instead, I asked Johnny to send me a photo of him with the puck from his first goal, and he texted me (the image), and gave me permission to use it,” he said.

The weekly series, airing Mondays following Red Sox postgame coverage, starting April 6, is hosted by NESN’s Gary Striewski. It will showcase two films in each episode, give back stories on the student filmmakers, and include reviews by Boston Globe Film Critic Ty Burr.

The shorts are currently on NESNNext.com, where viewers can pick the program’s “Top Fan Film.”