Local Filmmaker Nabs Festival Selections with Hockey Short
“I want to be one of the people who’s helping Columbus establish itself as a great place to make films.”
So says local filmmaker Steph Greegor, one of the many who believe in making movies in Columbus. She credits the skills and knowledge she collected at her two previous gigs for giving her the tools to write and direct her short film, Olsky, a character study concerning a psychologically damaged hockey player.
Greegor’s five years with The Other Paper – particularly her coverage of the Blue Jackets beat – obviously informed the story, but she says subsequent work at Nationwide allowed her to hone her abilities in project management, which she needed as director.
“Production we did in two days,” she says. “We did not mess around. We went in and we got it done. And I knew going into it – essentially, when you’re producing a film, it’s project management. I had a good idea of it and I also knew how to do it. Thank God for that.”
What were some of the obvious issues?
“We had very specific locations, right?” she says. “You’ve got to have a hockey rink, and hockey season starts in October, so we knew we had to get it right then and there. Each day was a minimum of 12 hours of shooting.”
Though Greegor directed, wrote, and co-produced, she’s quick to recognize the team effort necessary to produce a film.
“My job is to find good people,” she says. “When you talk about the production values – the lighting, the sound, the look of it – that was the crew who did that. They’re the ones who should be praised for that. Their technical skills were out of this world.”
She credits, in particular, her co-producer John Newkirk; the film’s director of photography Gil Whitney; Jerod Nawrocki, who handled lighting; editor Brant Jones; and Steve Thomas, Sam Javor, and Kody Orrin on sound.
“My point in giving you all those names is simply to say, I might be the director, but clearly you can see how many people it takes to get that kind of production value – to make it look like something that could be screened in a theater. It takes a team of highly technical people who also have a creative bent toward visual storytelling to make it look and make it sound like that,” she says. “It takes a small village.”
Shooting locally offered Greegor and her large team many benefits.
“For the Easton Chiller, not only did they give us the rink to film in, but they staffed it,” she says. “If a business is going to donate something like that, you can’t waste time. You have to utilize the time they allow for you. There just was no room for error. It was like, we have to get it done.”
Greegor filmed Olsky almost exclusively in Columbus, a location she hopes to continue to explore cinematically as she takes on other projects with her production company, Eleven One Productions.
“The ultimate goal is to do as much filmmaking in Columbus as humanly possible,” she says. “I think Columbus filmmaking has some real pluses, but they have some challenges as well. One is we don’t have a really developed crew base. What’s here is very good, but we don’t have a lot of them. We also don’t have enough work here to maintain a lot of crew. A lot of crew go work in Cleveland or Pittsburgh or Cincinnati, where most of the films tend to go. The more films we do in Columbus, the more we can get a bigger crew base. It’s something that Columbus is overcoming – Schwarzenegger is making a film in Columbus now, so the tide is turning. That’s something that‘s great for everyone in Columbus. It brings in films, it brings in jobs. And I want to be part of that.”
Accepted into both the Frozen Film Festival in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Dayton’s ICE Film Festival, Olsky may become Greegor’s calling card. Her goal is to impress the right people with the short, allowing her to raise the capital necessary to produce a full, feature length screenplay on the story.
“It’s so exciting!” she says of the Frozen Film Festival. “You’re talking about a hockey town. Minnesota Wild play there. It’s always cold there, ten feet of snow. I think playing hockey is one of the only things they do there! When you think about premiering a hockey film and think of the cities that love and cherish the sport, St. Paul is one of those cities.”
Applying to film festivals is an expensive and time consuming task, so Greegor took a thoughtful approach.
“I needed to find niche markets where the public is going to appreciate a hockey film,” she says. “So I basically went through every team in the NHL, and there are 30, and I researched every one of those cities for a film festival. And the Frozen Film Festival was one of those.”
Olsky was also selected for the ICE film festival in Dayton, OH.
“We’re excited,” she says. “We’re 2 for 2 in 2016! We’ll take it.”
Look for more stories on local filmmakers in the coming weeks.