Local filmmaker enlists former Blue Jackets, Buckeyes hockey players in making feature film
Can aging hockey player Mike Olsky battle back from an injury suffered in a terrible accident and recapture some of his past glory on the ice in Columbus?
Nope, that's not one of the keys to the season for the 2018-19 Blue Jackets, but a synopsis of “The Third Period,” a feature film currently in pre-production. The script is by Steph Greegor, who covered the Blue Jackets for The Other Paper and Fox Sports before working in digital marketing for Nationwide Insurance, where she first caught the filmmaking bug.
“When I was 18, I wanted to run away to Los Angeles,” Greegor said in a recent phone interview. “But I'd never thought much about work behind the camera until I did some video projects when I was at Nationwide. It just became a passion. I told myself, ‘If I don't do this the rest of my life I'm going to die.'”
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Hockey was a “found” passion, too. Prior to her assignment for The Other Paper, Greegor said, “I had never been exposed to hockey. I just fell in love with it.”
It was a natural, then, that her film script would involve the sport in some way.
“It's not a ‘hockey movie.' It's a character drama set in the world of hockey. The main character is at the crux of his career and doesn't handle it well, so he has to try and come back and make it right as he enters the third period of his life,” Greegor said.
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Screenwriter Gordy Hoffman (Philip Seymour Hoffman's brother) was an early script consultant. As Greegor began to feel more confident that she had something worthy of filming, she brought in former Blue Jackets assistant coach Dan Hinote to consult.
“We had met when I was covering the team, and I reached out to him to see if he would help. Accuracy was very important to me. I know hockey fans are the most rabid of sports fans,” Greegor said, sharing a story about posting a photo from the short concept film, “Olsky,” on social media. “The first comment was, ‘He's holding the stick wrong.' I thought that if this is going to be a movie, the hockey stuff has to be right.”
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The pre-production cast includes former professional hockey player and model/actor Chris Tschupp and youth hockey player and actor Myles Clohessy (TV's “Quantico”). Greegor also brought in former CBJ players Sean Pronger and R.J. Umberger as consultants (and potentially actors), as well as adding former Ohio State hockey players Chris Olsgard and Alex Lippincott to the cast.
“There's a language between players, a way they act on and off the ice, so we're consulting on the hockey stuff. We're working on making sure the hockey play looks as real as possible,” Umberger said.
“There are a lot of great sports movies, so you know you can tell a story through athletics. What we want is the story to be strengthened by what happens on the ice,” Greegor said. “What's been a little surprising and really encouraging is how quickly Dan and R.J. have taken to their roles and shown a real ability to succinctly advise.”
Greegor is working on securing more funding for the film through her production company, Eleven One Productions. Live Technologies, the Chiller Ice Rinks, and Arena District establishments the Three-Legged Mare and R Bar are official partners. Greegor has secured letters of support from the Greater Columbus Arts Council, the Columbus Film Commission, Experience Columbus and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission. Len Hartman, founder and president of Ohio Film Group, has signed on as producer.
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“I never considered any other option than to make this film in Columbus,” Greegor said. “The world is both bigger and smaller in ways that allow you to do things in places you might not have been able to before. There's a lot of grassroots talent in Columbus, for both onscreen and in production. The biggest thing we've faced is an ignorance about our ability to do this here.”