COLUMBUS (OH) ~ Former NHL journeyman and Columbus Blue Jacket Sean Pronger has joined the cast and crew of the feature-length film, The Third Period, as one of its NHL Alumni Advisory Board members.
The gritty hockey drama, written and directed by former Fox Sports Ohio reporter Steph Greegor, who covered the Blue Jackets, is tentatively set to film in Columbus, Ohio, the summer of 2019. Len Hartman of Ohio Film Group is set to produce.
“I find myself drawn to anything hockey-related,” said Pronger, currently living in California and set to join the team in Columbus this weekend, Sept. 13-16, to advise on choreography and hockey culture. “After I read more about the movie, I found myself relating to the story.”
Pronger was an NHL journeyman and played on multiple teams throughout his career from 1995 through 2004, including the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, and the Blue Jackets. Upon retirement, Pronger found himself asking questions similar to The Third Period‘s lead character, Mike Olsky, who must overcome multiple challenges to go out on top.
“I certainly had no idea what I was going to do [when I retired],” said Pronger. “It’s a terrifying feeling to be in your mid-thirties, with a family and have no idea what you’re going to do.”
Pronger said he got through the rough transition by trying new things and focusing on his strengths outside of hockey.
“I think the key is to have a solid network of people around you that care about you and can offer some guidance/direction,” said Pronger. “It is not an easy thing to go through for most athletes.”
Lucky for Pronger, his good friend and Canadian sportscaster Dan Murphy, was willing to help him explore his creative side. The two penned Pronger’s unique point of view of the NHL in a book titled Journeyman.
“I think it happened because there was an appetite for a story about a guy chasing his dream and running into a shitload of roadblocks along the way,” said Pronger of a book that started after he penned a blog on his brother’s, Chris Pronger‘s, website and signed off as “Journeyman.”
“What I learned from writing was I really enjoyed the process. Especially for someone who had a career like mine,” said Pronger. “I got to relieve the ups and downs from a safe place, that didn’t resemble the back of a bus.”
Pronger said the scary part for both himself and Murphy was “What will people think?”
“We had no idea how it would be received in the hockey community,” he said. “I had basically opened my kimono to the world. Thankfully, the feedback has been tremendous, especially from people in the hockey world.”
The Third Period has also taken pains to ensure authenticity in the film by bringing on former NHL-ers who can advise on skating and culture within the film.
Joining Pronger in an advisory role is former Columbus Blue Jacket and Philadelphia Flyer R.J. Umberger.
Former Ohio State University hockey players Chris Olsgard and Alex Lippincott will join the movie as skaters and be part of more than 100 hockey players who will hit the ice for the film, portraying up to eight pro hockey teams for the two-hour character drama set in the world of ice hockey.
Filming of the hockey scenes is tentatively set for Nationwide Arena, where Pronger played, and is set to put an eye on the hockey scene in Columbus.
“I think it’s about time C-town gets recognized for the passion the community brings to the game of hockey,” said Pronger, adding making hockey movies goes beyond any city, though ~ it’s making the movie that counts. “It’s important because it helps grow the best sport in the world. The more people we can expose to this great game, the better.”
That includes women. The Third Period will be the first feature-length hockey film in U.S. history to be written and directed by a woman. An historical bent that Pronger agrees is important to the sport and to film.
“I think it’s amazing that this film is written and directed by a woman. It brings to light the passion, knowledge and understanding of this great game that women have,” he said. “My hope is that more women will embrace the historical nature of this film and become fans of this movie and the game.”
So, is Pronger nervous about his advising role and his…acting role? Yep, Pronger will have a role in the movie.
“I wouldn’t say it’s my first time acting; I spent 11 years trying to act like a hockey player,” laughed Pronger of his journeyman career in the NHL. “I’m looking forward to seeing how it translates on film. I’m nervous about making sure it looks authentic.”
The three lead actors and Umberger will join Pronger in Columbus this weekend, Sept. 13-16, for rehearsals and volunteer work with the production’s charities.
To keep up with this weekend and for more information visit www.thirdperiodfilm.com.