(Rhodes, Greece, 5/20/15)
Greece: Mythical land of gods and goddesses, heroes and heroines, priceless antiquities and architectural treasures. Seen the Parthenon and Mount Olympus? Further afield, on the island of Rhodes, another must-see work of art is being created. Swing Away, an engaging, heartwarmingly inspirational coming-of-age movie, recently began filming. The brainchild of creative producer George Elias Stephanopoulos (producer credits include Golf In The Kingdom, Second City’s Buzzkill, and Bereave), Swing Away puts a new spin on the beauty of the Greek islands by blending the sport of golf with the spirit of redemption. It’s a perfect combination that establishes Greece as a world class film location and reminds the world that the sport of golf is alive and thriving in one of the most stunning places on earth.
Stephanopoulos has assembled a dynamic team, with director Michael Achilles Nickles at helm, the film itself authored by screenwriters Paul Robert Lingas and J.W. Nickles. “We have found a way to showcase the beauty of Greece and the incredible pride and strength of her people,” Stephanopoulos offers. “Swing Away is our way of letting the entire world know that Greece of 2015 is healthy, vibrant, and once again aiming for greatness.”
Swing Away tells the story of Zoe Papadopoulos, (played by Shannon Elizabeth, from American Pie fame) an LPGA golfer who retreats to her homeland in order to escape the media spotlight following an incident of bad behavior during a tournament event, one that results in her temporary suspension from the tour. She reconnects with her Greek roots and discovers a much larger story involving the townspeople, whose unfailing optimism and resilient spirit inspire her to find greatness in the face of insurmountable odds. Such a positive message--given the post-bailout struggles Greece has faced--will be a welcome change to Greece's current world perception.
Swing Away also stars John O’Hurley, of Seinfeld and Spongebob fame, as the patronizing, antagonistic golf course owner against whom Zoe and the locals chafe. A cast of Greece’s most talented actors, including Manos Gavras, Renos Haralambidis, Alexandros Mylonas, Olga Damani, and Christos Sougaris, also bless the production. Young actress Viktoria Miller stars as Stella--a promising young golf prodigy whose game Zoe helps develop, and vice versa. The LPGA is also involved with the film as a promotional partner and the golf scenes for Swing Away will be shot at the ShopRite LPGA Classic, which takes place just outside Atlantic City.
Michael Achilles Nickles says, “Directing a film in Greece has been a dream of mine since I first visited as a teenager (at the Ionian Village, a summer camp for young Greek-Americans, where I met producer George Stephanopoulos). Each day I feel honored and delighted to be here, working alongside cinematographer Yannis Daskalothanasis and the rest of the very talented cast and crew."
While Swing Away is a moving, audience-friendly, small town story akin to Local Hero, Waking Ned Devine or Bend it Like Beckham, it is also a classic underdog drama pitting charming locals against a greedy developer, of a Greek girl hoping to follow her golfing dream against incredible odds, and of a humiliated Greek-American pro golfer rediscovering her love for the game, her family, and her very self. Using the backdrop of contemporary Greece, Stephanopoulos and his team have found the perfect narrative to tell an entertaining story that touches upon these and other universal themes relevant to a contemporary audience.
“This is a terrific way for the LPGA to grow our awareness and play a relevant role in a motion picture that will be seen by so many,” said LPGA Chief Communications Officer Kraig Kann. “Opportunities like this showcase our players and our brand while helping to attract a bigger following for our sport. We’re excited to take part.”
“Swing Away touchingly tells the story of golf, its beauty and its challenge. To showcase the celebrity of an LPGA star, this motion picture is another affirmation of the growing popularity of women’s golf around the world. Buffalo Brand Invigoration Group joins other leading golf brands and sponsors including Antigua, Volvik and Acer who have pledged support of this fun and inspiring film.”
Serving as a consultant on the film is LPGA winner and Greek-American Nicole Castrale. A member of the victorious United States Solheim Cup teams in 2007 and 2009, Castrale will spend time with the cast and crew and help oversee filming of the golf scenes in Greece and also Atlantic City.
Stephanopoulos’ American-based producing partners include Stamatios Tom Hiotis and Paul Lingas and in Greece Costas Lambropoulos and George Kiriakos of CL Productions with View Master Films providing production services.