Friday, August 2, 2013

Reinventing the True Greek Spirit: “Swing Away” at Life!

'The idea for Swing away started with me wanting to do something, anything, in Greece, to get more connected with Greece and my Greek roots... 

What started off as a small idea, developed into a movie project...'

George  Stephanopoulos, Producer

Help make this great little film a reality.
Get involved in this Global Greek Project! 
Swing Away is an engaging romantic comedy and a unique coming of age story filled with laugh-out-loud authentic characters.  Set in in one of Greece's beautiful small, sun-drenched  villages nestled between majestic mountains and the blue azure sea on the island of Crete, Greece, this film will bring joy, laughter and wonder to any audience.

With present day Greece and golf as the backdrop, Swing Away uses humor to tackle a variety of stereotypes while at the same time addressing other universal themes relevant in Greece and the world at large -- such as competition for land, resources and respect. In other words, the movie will create a new narrative that counters the current, often far too negative public image of Greece and the Greek people – and to show you that there are things worth fighting for!

We all know what it’s like to have dreams; dreams that challenge us at various points in our lives to think big and rise to the occasion against the greatest of odds. This is part of Greek heritage: from Thermopylae to Alexander’s outnumbered troops to the partisan fighters in WW II, the nature of the Greek spirit is to overcome insurmountable odds. The creation of this film, as well as its plot line, also reflect this simple, timeless, and very powerful idea.

When a Greek-American golf pro named Nikki is suspended from the LPGA tour, she escapes to the village of her Greek grandparents on the island of Crete, hoping to get away from what has become a disastrous career and hopefully get herself back on track.  What, and who, greets her when she arrives, however, are a young boy who already hits the ball better than she ever has, his protective (and handsome!) father, feisty, well meaning grandparents and a village bent on doing everything it can to ignore the beautiful golf course that lies nearby.  

Once Nikki arrives in the village she is confronted with two distinct yet equally baffling facts: her grandparents, while happy to see her, seem bent on lecturing her back to health and a young boy who she sees whacking golf balls all over creation with the purest, smoothest, most effortless swing she’s ever seen.  It’s the perfect combination to get her mind off her own playing and putting troubles.  Or not.   Nikki soon befriends the boy, Spiro, more at his prodding and urging than anything else, and they soon form a bond of old-washed-up-has-been and never-going-to-make-it-off-the-island-wunderkind.   Nikki also befriends the manager and groundskeeper of the local course and shortly after she is convinced to be the resident golf pro. 

Nikki, now with a mission in life that doesn’t have to do with making the cut, qualifying for major tournaments, and dealing with the daily grind of the pro tour, sets out to convince the entire town, who up until now have looked at the golf course with a mixture of bemusement, hatred and utter apathy, to begin playing golf and bring some local life and flavor to a course that seems bent on only catering to wealthy foreigners.  Her initial efforts are met with mixed results to say the least, and she soon discovers that the course itself is under threat from outside influences.   

Determined to save the golf course, and with it the town, Nikki pulls out all the stops to enlist the help of men, women, young and old, to embrace this inherently Greek game of golf, take renewed pride in everything Cretan, Greek, and anything else she can think of, in order to save the town from becoming just one more boring, corporately run, homogenized European vacation spot.   It won’t be easy though.  She has to navigate not only the townspeople, but the local course manager, Spiro’s growing talent, his handsome and wonderful single father, the loving yet often meddling ways of her grandparents, the impending threat of a foreign takeover and her own mess of a life.  What's a girl to do? 

What we get is a thoughtful, heartfelt, sometimes irreverent, always family friendly, hilarious adventure of Greek people, Greek golf gods and modern Greek heroes that will change the lives of Nikki, the villagers and everyone who sees Swing Away forever. 

Starting with our beautiful Greece as the backdrop, and Crete in particular, Producer George Stephanopoulos, Writer Paul Lingas and Creative Director and moving on to actors Manos Gavras and Renos Haralambidis, the Global Greek lineup is impressive! Hopefully we will get to find out who plays Nikki too...

So, how do you get involved?

How do you help bring this vision of a resilient Greece to life?

You can help by promoting the concept and/or providing some of the funding and true to the Greek spirit of generosity and welcoming all, there are some cool perks for those who donate to the project which include directly participating in the making of the film and have an input in the movie’s creative process. in exchange for your donation you can play the part of a background extra, play a limited speaking part, name the town, golf course, or church where the story takes place, or even the mythical Greek golf god that will resemble the Minotaur, the wild beast of Crete.

Get involved and be in to win! 

Click here to promote Swing Away or here to donate to this  project!

We did!

If you follow Global Greek World, then you have definitely heard about The OPA! Way... well Swing Away is an "OPA! Partner and co-founders of The OPA! Way, Alex Pattakos and Elaine Dundon shared their latest article on  Swing Away with us and our readers. It is well worth reading, so we are including it here.


OPA! “Swing Away” at Life!

“The meaning of it all is that there is no meaning,” said the golfer Walter Hagen in the movie, The Legend of Bagger Vance.  We quoted this line in our book, Prisoners of Our Thoughts, because we believe just the opposite: The meaning of it all is that life­,  all of life, ­is inherently meaningful.  When we search out and discover the authentic meaning of our existence and our experiences, we learn that life doesn’t just happen to us.  We happen to life; and we make it meaningful.  Indeed, meaning exists in each moment of life even, as the world-renowned psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, famously espoused “in the most miserable situations and literally up to the last breadth of ourselves.”

Those of you who are familiar The Legend of Bagger Vance either because you have seen the 2000 film and/or read the 1995 book of the same title realize that, contrary to the golfer Hagen’s nihilistic remark, the story is grounded firmly in the human quest for meaning and its existential message extends far beyond the game of golf.  Besides its feel good and mystical qualities, The Legend of Bagger Vance, in large part, comes down to learning how to live an authentic and meaningful life.  In this connection, golf and life have a great deal in common!

We say this without the perceived benefit (or perhaps bias) of being avid golfers.  We’re very accustomed, of course, to using sports metaphors as a way to capture the nuances of daily living.  Sports-minded or not, everyone relies on such metaphors now and then.  Yet there appears to be something special about “golf” and what it mirrors about the human condition.  Or maybe it’s because we’ve come across a number of books and movies that view life through the lens of golf, in the same genre as The Legend of Bagger Vance.  Whatever the reason, the link (no pun intended!) between golf and life has captured our fancy and encouraged us to look within, much like the ancient Greek sages encouraged us to “know thyself” so that we may set ourselves free.  As singer/songwriter Rodney Crowell wisely advised us in the meaning-focused lyrics to his song, Time to Go Inward: “Prison bars imagined are no less solid steel.”

In his 1971 bestselling novel, Golf in the Kingdom, Michael Murphy, a co-founder of the Esalen Institute and a key figure in the human potential movement, explored the deeper meaning and metaphysical dimensions of golf.  Much like the mystical caddy in The Legend of Bagger Vance, a young man (modeled on the author) stumbles upon a mysterious Zen Master-like golf pro, Shivas Irons, who over a 24-hour period teaches him important lessons about golf, spirituality, and the meaning of life.  As a result, the young Murphy character experiences an unexpected personal transformation; he discovers his “inner body” and becomes aware that, metaphorically-speaking, there was already a perfect golf swing inside him.

In 2010, Golf in the Kingdom finally hit the big screen when a film version was produced.  We’re proud and honored to say that our dear friend, George E. Stephanopoulos, an independent producer and entertainment lawyer with impressive credentials in the industry, executive produced this existential film.  What is even more impressive is that George lives and works with meaning.  Importantly, he not only has read Viktor Frankl’s seminal book, Man’s Search for Meaning, as well as our book on the human quest for meaning, Prisoners of Our Thoughts, but also consciously applies what he has read to all of the various projects, film or otherwise, in which he is involved.

Did we mention that George is of Greek heritage­ and very proud of it­ and is a supporter of The OPA! Way, our new paradigm for living and working with meaning that is uniquely inspired by Greek philosophy and culture?  This fact of birth, coupled with his own “mystical” experience producing Golf in the Kingdom, provides a meaningful segway to George’s next film project, a romantic comedy set on the island of Crete, Greece, called “Swing Away.”

George is a lead producer of “Swing Away,” which combines his passion for Greece, comedy (among his credits, George worked on Saturday Night Live spin-off movies Wayne’s World, Wayne’s World 2 and Coneheads), and sports (again, in this case the sport of golf).  The idea of “Swing Away,” George told us, comes from a golf term that means to hit the ball with ease and freedom.  Not surprisingly, he emphasized that there is a deeper meaning behind the term:

“It also serves as a metaphor that expresses the idea that it that it’s only in following the yearnings and dreams of one’s true self or in rediscovering them that allows people, the universe, or even the golf gods in this case, to bring joy and unity into our lives.  And it’s only through comedy that this theme can be adequately expressed in a way that reminds each of us to let go of the things holding us back and “swing away” in our own lives.”

In brief, the film revolves around a Greek-American golf pro who gets suspended from the LPGA tour and escapes to the village of her Greek grandparents.  Hoping to get away from what has become a disastrous career and get herself back on track, she meets an array of villagers and ends up trying to save a beautiful golf course on the island of Crete that is being ignored.  The story, of course, is much more complex due to its existential, humanistic message.  Like the other films in its genre, “Swing Away” is not a golf movie per se.  Rather, it is a movie about life, about experiencing the joy in living, regardless of one’s personal circumstances, and about embracing all of life, the joys and sorrows, the ups and downs, with Attitude (Note: this is the “A” in the common Greek word, “OPA!,” and an integral part of The OPA! Way paradigm).

When asked what he wanted audiences to get from watching “Swing Away,” George was quite clear.

 “I want audiences to be inspired, to laugh and to experience the joy in living life to its fullest.  Of course, we want people to be entertained and have not only a wonderful movie going experience, but to come away with a greater understanding of Greece as a whole, as well as the unique spirit and passion of the Greek people.  Most importantly, at the end of the day we want people to walk out of the theatre feeling happy, inspired and free to live their dreams.”

And we say “OPA!” to that! Go ahead: “Swing Away!”

Global Greek Dr Alex Pattakos and Dr Elaine Dundon, are meaning experts and the co-founders of The OPA! Way® paradigm of "Living & Working with Meaning" and the OPA! Center for Meaning in Santa Fe, New Mexico USA.

At Global Greek World, We ♥ Greece...and it shows!

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