North Bay and Sudbury areas sites for major hockey-themed movie

·6 min read

Shooting for the feature film The Prospect is expected to begin at various locations in the North Bay and Sudbury regions early in 2022.

The subject matter is hockey, but it's not a typical sports movie.

Josh Piro, one of the producers and the individual behind the story, says The Prospect is the journey of how a young man has a shot at making it to the NHL and how his parents handle his potential.

“But what happens when challenges arise and things don't go according to plan?” Piro asks.

“Then what happens to those relationships later in life?”

Piro says with all eyes focused on the young man's NHL potential, the movie examines the impact his journey has on him and other family members like his sister. who has a daughter who loves hockey but her interests are largely ignored.

The Prospect is based on true events and loosely depicts Piro's own experiences while playing for the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL).

The ECHL is a mid-level professional minor league one step removed from the American Hockey League.

Piro played nine years for the ECHL which has affiliations with several NHL teams like the San Jose Sharks and Chicago Blackhawks.

He spent the last part of his semi-pro hockey career playing in Europe before turning his attention to coaching women's hockey.

A few years ago Piro began writing a book about how gruelling hockey can be behind the scenes and his account became the genesis for The Prospect.

Piro said an individual who was going to help get the book published “asked if this was what hockey was like behind the scenes and that the book should become a movie because it's a story that needs to be told.”

In The Prospect, the father doesn't want his son to give up trying to make it to the NHL despite the fact that along the way the young man suffers injuries, is on painkillers and experiences mental health issues.

“So his dad just wants him to make it to the NHL and we see the toll it takes not only on the kid who's going through that process but how it also affects his sister,” Piro said.

“The story reaches the point where the kid is burnt out and says I've done all I can do,” Piro said.

He abandons his NHL pursuit, but that's when the journey to redemption begins.

In The Prospect initially, there is little regard for women's hockey but Piro says “our prospect doubles down and decides he's going to guide his niece who loves hockey in the right direction so she doesn't make the same mistakes and has a better experience than he did.”

Piro says without giving too much more away, the fictionalized account takes the viewer to women's hockey at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Piro and two other producers, Gordon Weiske and Mandi Gosling came up from Toronto last November and spent three days in the North Bay and Sudbury area.

Weiske says the trio looked at 30 hockey rinks in the Nipissing and Sudbury Districts.

“It tells you how important hockey is to Northern communities,” said Weiske, who's been involved in the movie industry for more than 25 years.

Weiske said a movie like The Prospect will involve hundreds of people and that means millions of dollars coming to the economies of the North Bay and Sudbury area.

He says the main actors in the movie will be well-known but he can't divulge any names just yet.

“The casting call for the leads has gone out,” Weiske said.

When Toronto hosts the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) from Sept. 9 to 18, Weiske and Gosling will hold high-level meetings to finalize major cast members for the movie.

Weiske says when the movie is ready for release it will be premiered at TIFF 2022 where he will meet with international film distributors with the goal of getting The Prospect played in other countries as well as film outlets in North America.

Weiske says TIFF is the world's largest film festival and major movies get their first showings at the event in the hope that not only do they win an award but they are good enough to have an international release.

The three producers were in Callander this past weekend as a way to give back to the area and promote the movie as a 'Hockey Meets Hollywood' event.

Boys and girls aged six to 17 got to play in a ball hockey tournament, heard from a speaker about mental health and also got to take part in a casting call for local talent that could appear in the movie.

Gosling and Weiske conducted the casting call and Piro said they, “were looking for that diamond in the rough.”

Weiske took Piro's comments a bit further and said during some of the casting calls, he and Gosling found some “nice surprises.

“We definitely want to support and use local talent,” Weiske said.

“The Prospect is a multi-generational movie so we're looking for youth, teens and early adults. You never know what you might find. Someone could be upgraded from being in the background to getting a line or two on camera.”

Weiske has been working with Piro and Gosling on The Prospect for more than two years.

The movie producer says each week he gets pitches for 20 film or TV projects.

“Ninety-nine per cent of the time I turn them down because there's not enough time to look at them all,” Weiske said.

But he said The Prospect stood out because it wasn't just a run-of-the-mill hockey story.

“It's not just a sports movie,” he said.

“It's a movie about the family unit and how it affects everyone. It has so many elements and layers and that's what got my attention. It resonated with me.”

Weiske said the timing is also excellent considering the strong interest and support there is today in women's hockey.

Piro and Gosling brought The Prospect to Weiske through their movie production company Uprise Productions Inc.

However, Piro remains a women's hockey coach and his day job, when he's not involved in making a movie, is being part of RUSH Hockey.

RUSH Hockey puts on the largest women's hockey tournaments in the world and some cities that have hosted these tournaments include Toronto, Boston and Buffalo.

Piro says considering The Prospect is just around the corner and attempts to “showcase and highlight women's hockey in a positive light” perhaps in the near future RUSH Hockey can bring a women's tournament to North Bay.

And if people were wondering about Mandi Gosling's last name, she is the older sister of actor Ryan Gosling.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Bay Nugget

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