COLUMBUS (OH) ~ Former NHL Columbus Blue Jacket and Philadelphia Flyer R.J. Umberger has joined the cast and crew of the feature-length film, THE THIRD PERIOD, as one of its hockey consultants/advisers and a skater/coach in the film.
The gritty hockey drama, written and directed by former Fox Sports Ohio reporter Steph Greegor, who covered the Blue Jackets during Umberger’s time at the organization, is tentatively set to film in Columbus, Ohio, the summer of 2019. Len Hartman of Ohio Film Group is set to produce.
“To be honest I had heard about the film last winter from a friend who’s in the movie industry, but really thought about it and took an interest early this summer when close friend and fellow [Ohio State] Buckeye teammate, Chris Olsgard, signed onto the project,” said Umberger, 36, who played with the Buckeyes from 2000-03, before joining the Flyers organization in 2004. Umberger was traded to the Blue Jackets in 2008 and then traded back to the Flyers in 2014. He retired earlier this year and is now taking on the challenge of film.
“This will definitely be a challenge and take me outside my comfort level,” said Umberger, who lives in Central Ohio with his wife, Cara, and their children. “I’m really looking forward to being part of a team again in a bit of a different manner. Getting on the ice to shoot some hockey scenes should be a lot of fun.”
Joining Umberger in the journey is very good friend, Olsgard, who played for the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers from 1998-2000 before joining the Buckeyes from 2000-2004. Former Buckeye Alex Lippincott will also join the team as a skater. Lippincott played for the NAHL’s Mahoning Valley Phantoms from 2008-09; the USHL’s Fargo Force from 2009-10; and then joined the Buckeyes from 2010-14.
Umberger, Olsgard, and Lippincott, will join close to 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.
“I think hockey in Columbus is at such a great spot right now,” said Umberger. “The Blue Jackets are young, talented and extremely exciting to watch. The Ohio State Buckeyes are poised to make another national championship run and youth hockey is growing at a rate that at one time was probably unimaginable.”
That, combined with the uptick in films being made in Central Ohio, makes the capital city a prime spot for filming a hockey movie.
“I think this is the perfect time to compliment this growth and add another element to Columbus’ ecstatic passion for hockey,” said Umberger.
The film follows aging hockey star Mike Olsky as he reaches the end of his career only to get injured. He faces multiple challenges before confronting the ultimate crux of bringing his team together and trying to win the championship.
This will be the first feature-length hockey film in U.S. history to be written and directed by a woman.
“I think it’s great,” said Umberger. “When it comes to sports, it shows women are just as passionate and knowledgeable as men and deserve the chance to show that.”
For Umberger, bringing his hockey knowledge to the table while also learning a new skill set is something he’s ready to try.
“I’m definitely looking forward to the entire production side of the movie business,” said Umberger. “It will be a lot of fun seeing first-hand the actors, and director, in their/her element and then seeing it all come together to make a finished project.”
The three lead actors and two of the film’s hockey consultants/advisers, including Umberger, will be 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.