February 28, 2011

On The Day shown at well-attended theatres across Canada

Few if any feature-length films have been made about a competition pipe band, and until February 9th, never had such a movie been shown at major movie theatres across an entire country, but that’s exactly what happened as audiences turned out from Victoria, British Columbia, to St. John’s, Newfoundland, to see On The Day, the 80-minute documentary on the Spirit of Scotland Pipe Band.

The 7 pm screenings at 52 locations were consistently well attended, most reporting approximately three-quarters capacity. Canadian-based band members were present at several locations an, and Pasadena, California-based director John McDonald went to the screening in Kingston, Ontario, where the local Rob Roy Pipe Band organization attended, performing a drum salute before the event.

“We had a really good turn-out in Kingston,” McDonald said. “Some people who were there for other movies actually turned their tickets back in and switched to see On The Day. The Cineplex manager said it was the best-selling movie of the evening. Almost everyone stayed for the entire Q&A after the screening and folks really went out of their way to tell me how much they enjoyed the film.”

Q&A sessions were offered with attending band members at several locations.

The downtown Toronto screening at the Varsity theatre, one of the city’s premier film houses, had a solid attendance by mostly non-pipers and drummers, although several piping and drumming personalitites were in the audience.

Said Gema Rayo, a  non-piper/drummer who attended the Toronto event, “I truly enjoyed the film and have a newfound appreciation for piping as a result.”

On The Day documents the Grade 1 Spirit of Scotland Pipe Band’s organization, preparation and competition at the 2008 World Pipe Band Championships at which the band of available all-star players qualified for the Grade 1 Final contests and ultimately finished eleventh overall. The band has not performed as a whole since.

On The Day will be shown again on Sunday, February 13th, at the same Cineplex theatres across Canada.

(Disclosure: the editor of pipes|drums was a piper with Spirit of Scotland.)


  1. There was a good turnout in most theatres, but not all. I think Sunday might be a bigger day, fingers crossed. I wanted to share a review” that Betty Anne Muckle wrote after seeing the film in Calgary. She is a long-time piper and studied piobarireachd with John Wilson in the 60’s. She gave me permission to share this

  2. Answer — Hyper-real, it’s true. We wanted it to feel up-close and personal”. There are some of the low frequencies from the drums making their way into the sub track

  3. Imagine if other projects could be fostered from this. I would love to go and see a movie about SFU, FMM, Shotts, or SLOT. I hope someday that’s possible and that those bands chose John MacDonald as the creator.

  4. I’ve often thought that if we could get the PBS stations in the US to pick up the World’s BBC program and/or the World’s DVD’s and /or On The Day during their annual pledge drives it could be good for all involved. The viewers would enjoy the best examples of pipe bands in the world, DVD’s would be sold as part of pledges, and the exposure to our music would raise awareness and possibly improve interest in and attendance at our own fund raisers and disappearing contests.

  5. Interesting in light of Mrs. Muckle’s comments, I think there’s an audience for this anywhere. Humans are fascinated by the drama and tension of competition. Not just in sport. Think about what we watch on TV, at least in the US. We watch people compete in cooking competitions, clothing design, interior design, how many crabs they can catch or how many truck runs they can make on an icy road. Who can stay on an island or in a house the longest. Which lumber company can fell the most trees. Who can make the cooler motorycle. Which little beauty pageant girl will win mega ultimate ultra supreme. There could just as easily be a place and audience for which pipe band will win…..on THE day, or other days.

  6. Question- the bass sound, beautifully tuned as it was, seemed audibly strong on the sound track relative to what I preceive listening outside the circle . Was this purposely engineered in studio?

  7. It was a sold out audience in Hamilton Silver City. Someone commented when the band members were getting on ths bus…hey, there’s Anderson Cooper. But it was none other than Mr. Berthoff. I have to say, there is a resemblance. Was a very well done movie and I enjoyed seeing in the company many of the Hamilton area’s pipe band fans.

  8. Great job on the movie. As a new beginner to learning the pipes, I have to say that the film was very informative and educational. I saw the film in Guelph, and there was a good turnout for it. Hope there will be others in the future. Once again, great job!

  9. I enjoyed the film. However, I was disappointed in the production sound quality at the Oshawa theatre. No surround, lack of clarity and it seemed distant. Also, the video was not sharp. It was great seeing so many friends and well known piping world personalities and I applaud any effort to bring our passion into the mainstream. However, the sound and video presentation was not world class.

  10. Too bad Brian. The video and sound and sub woofer set up in Owen sound were superb. The volume could have been cranked for my liking, but the others in the facility may have been invaded by Pipes and Drums.

  11. Sorry to learn about the sub-par presentation Brian, and I have alerted the Cineplex corporate office in Toronto. With all the digital technology there seems to be more chances of glitches. I was at the Wed. screening in Kingston and the theatre’s 2K projector was not available and we had to watch the film on a standard digital projector. The image just did not have the luminance I wanted but the sound was great. On Sunday I was at the Sheppard Grande in Toronto and they did use the 2K projector but the HDMI cable limited the sound to stereo. I actually stopped the movie, made them switch to component cables, and we got the 5.1 Dolby working. But then the picture was not as good. There is definitely room for improvement as more and more presentations move away from film and go all digital.



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