VIRGINIA — “Way of the Warriors’’ will be much than just a hockey movie, according to screenwriter John Montague.
“It’s a very inspirational movie about family, about friendship, about coming of age and ultimately about dealing with one’s mortality,’’ Montague said in a telephone interview from his Edina, Minn., home.
But don’t be mistaken, hockey is at the core of the movie that is now being fundraised for.
“At the end of the day, the ultimate film that we all believe in is one that will be very, very authentic and one that will really tell the story — not only of hockey in a really authentic way — but specifically of northern Minnesota as the real home of hockey.’’ He added that northern Minnesota is the place where the roots are probably deepest in the true history of hockey in the United States.
“The story is really a tribute to towns like Eveleth and Virginia and Hibbing and Grand Rapids, Warroad, Roseau,’’ Montague, 49, said. “It’s really a tribute to these hockey towns and it’s a tribute to hockey families. It’s a tribute to all the great hockey coaches. The goal is to tell their story in a very authentic way so people feel proud.’’
Eveleth will also have a prominent role in the movie, he added.
“The family in our story and the town is based in Eveleth, but the locations in the film are all over the Iron Range,’’ including
Virginia, Hibbing, Chisholm, Grand Rapids, Eveleth and the Lake Vermilion area.
As a coach in the Edina Youth Hockey system, Montague found their was a lack of hockey movies when on one of his team’s road trips to northern Minnesota. He wanted to load up some great, family-friendly hockey movies and found there was really only one — “Miracle.’’
“That’s when it really hit me that there is a huge void in the marketplace.’’
That void of such movies inspired him, as did the recent death of a close friend of his. “I wanted to do something that was kind of going to be a tribute to him.’’
Another goal is to tell an authentic and positive story of Minnesota because that hasn’t always happened in movies in the past.
So what will the movie be about?
“It’s a fictional story that I would say is based on many true stories, and it’s set in present day,’’ according to Montague, who said it deals with the idea of divide between rural and urban America, and classism issues. “It’s a true kind of underdog story.’’
Montague, a longtime screenwriter, and others involved in the film recently launched an innovative crowd-funding campaign in hopes of raising $700,000 (by Thanksgiving), which would enable filming to start in February.
If the $700,000 goal is not reached by then, production would be pushed back to August. The overall production budget is at $1.5 million.
Montague is excited because there are four different, very big name A-list actors interested in the movie’s lead role.
“We will have the opportunity to go up to a higher budget’’ if that happens. The bigger budget could also bring in potentially some major talent to the movie, the screenwriter said.
Anyone interested in making a donation to the independent feature film can go to the crowd-funding site Indiegogo: https://igg.me/at/wayofthewarriors
Montague was proud to say contributors can get great items and experiences in return.
Perks available to contributors on Indiegogo include:
• Packages with advance movie tickets, digital downloads and gear
• Credited speaking actor roles.
• Credited actor roles as hockey players and coaches.
• Exclusive passes to the film’s premiere, reception and after-party.
• Autographed movie posters.
• Autographed hockey sticks and equipment used in filming.
• Credited actor roles as the team’s “friends and family.”
• Credited actor roles as “hockey legends” in memorable scenes.
Private investors can also make charitable contributions by going through Film North and directing the money to the project.
Montague’s previous screenplay, A GUY CALLED MICHAEL EGAN, was optioned by Sir Ben Kingsley and is currently in-development at Origin Entertainment.
After completing the screenplay about nine months ago, Montague collaborated with friend and fellow hockey dad, Todd Geisler, to write and record original music that was inspired by and tailored for specific scenes. Geisler enlisted the help of his brother, Graham Geisler, and after creating nearly a dozen songs for the film’s soundtrack, the brothers expanded their roles to become producers of the film itself. Jamison Geisler later joined the team and has worked closely with Montague on designing, developing and deploying an innovative marketing strategy. The Geisler brothers are all from Grand Rapids.
Montague said the crowd-funding effort ends on Thanksgiving weekend.
“We really need the community to get involved’’ and take ownership. He added that the team making the movie doesn’t have anything to gain financially. “For us, this is a labor of love.’’
Once the movie is made, those who see it will no doubt love it and the area’s it was filmed in, Montague added. He wrote the screenplay with a lot of the most beautiful scenic locations on the Range.
“The Iron Range is really like a character in the movie. The sense of place is so strong, that it almost becomes like a character in the film.’’ He said he takes that as a huge compliment because that’s the way he writes. “That was really my intention.’’
The film’s conceptual trailer and other videos can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTwya5urhVZg3VIDkby-9Zw
For more information, please visit the WAY OF THE WARRIORS Website: https://wayofthewarriorsfilm.com/