"Following a meltdown that leads to a suspension, professional golfer Zoe Papadopoulos travels to her grandparents' village in Greece to escape the harsh spotlight of the international sports world. Between baking bread and eating baklava, she meets and mentors a ten-year-old girl who is determined - against all odds - to become the next golf sensation. Along the way, Zoe rediscovers her Greek heritage, her love of the game, and the hidden strength within herself as she inspires the townspeople in an epic showdown against a greedy American developer"
A GEORGE ELIAS STEPHANOPOULOS PRODUCTION
A MICHAEL ACHILLES NICKLES FILM
ABOUT THE STORY – George Elias Stephanopoulos, Creator/Producer
The Idea: Swing Away, set in present day Greece, is a comedy with heart. And never has an American golf film ventured out of America before this one. Golf is increasingly becoming a worldwide sport with its ascent at last to the Olympics in 2016. Of course, Greeks will likely claim this represents the return of golf to Greece as an ancient Greek game. Whether Greek myth or legend, the charm and wonder of golf is ultimately revealed in Swing Away.
The Story: The main story of Swing Away is about a American golfer who journeys home to overcome an obstacle and in the process rediscovers again how to “swing away” at life and embrace that which matters most – family, children, health, friends and passions. Despite a very public humiliation, Zoe’s return to Greece allows her to rediscover her roots, her humanity and ultimately her love of the sport.
Theme: “Swing Away” is a golf term that means to hit the ball with ease and freedom. It also serves as a useful metaphor meaning it’s only in following the yearnings of our true self (like Stella does) or in rediscovering them again (like Zoe) that allows the universe or golf gods in this case to conspire to bring joy and unity into our lives. And it’s only through comedy that this theme can be adequately expressed in order to remind each of us to “swing away” in our own lives.
A Greek-Inspired Film: Swing Away was one of the few non Greek-language films to be shot, edited, and post-produced within Greece in an effort to support the Greek creative community, as well as to showcase the enormous talent of those working in the industry there, both in front and behind the camera.
Special offer to 50 HCC-SW members/supporters:
A $30 donation gets a prime, reserved seat at the theater, plus admission to a private gathering AFTER the screening with Swing Away producer George Stephanopoulos at a restaurant in the same complex. Hearty snacks provided, cash bar. All who purchase these tickets will be put in a random drawing for a Swing Away movie poster autographed by members of the cast and crew.
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION – Michael Achilles Nickles, Director
On Directing: I have always wanted to direct a film in Greece, as I have roots there (all four of my grandparents are Greek) and I am proud of my heritage. I first visited the country as a teenager when I was a camper at the Ionian Village. That is where I first met and became friends with producer George Stephanopoulos. It was during that trip that I had the strange sensation that I had come “home.” All of my trips to Greece since then have had a tremendous impact on me and I wanted to one day honor that in a film. Swing Away gave me that opportunity and it was an experience I’ll never forget.
On Casting: The most challenging role to cast was the one of Stella. There just aren't that many pre-teen, Greek-speaking, golf-loving girls in Greece. There probably aren't many in the world, actually. It was a little like finding a needle in a haystack. George Stephanopoulos searched high and low for many years when looking to cast a boy in the role of Spiros (now Stella), before I was even attached to direct. Eventually, we held casting sessions in Athens and that's where I met Viktoria Miller. She had never been in a film before but had a natural ease in front of the camera.
She was also very honest, serious and curious, which are qualities I greatly admire in any actor.
She took six months of golf lessons to prepare for the role and ended up giving a wonderful performance in the film.
On Locations: We shot the film on the island of Rhodes, which is very beautiful and fairly easy to make look like a pretty postcard. A lot of films are content with sharing just that. Working with cinematographer Yiannis Daskalothanasis, however, I wanted to reach past that kind of tourist-y surface and find specific visuals that might hint at a more authentic experience. In essence, I wanted to share my own memories of Greece - the sights and sounds I took home with me after my first visit to the country: old yiayias speaking Greek as they walk through the village, a grazing goat at sunrise, a vendor selling fruit off his scooter, the meditative color and texture of the sea, the delicious food. We set aside time to capture those moments at each of the locations we visited so we could sprinkle them throughout the edit.
On Writing: The script was very ambitious and we didn't have a lot of time. Nevertheless, we committed to telling the story in as big a way as possible, without cutting too many corners. There were many nights that we'd have to reconsider the next day's material based on what we were able to achieve the day before. Luckily, my wife, Julia, one of the screenwriters, was in Greece to make those last-minute, high pressure changes. The actors came toexpect new material each morning and, again, lucky for us, they rose to the challenge.