In order for the feature film Saving Stanley to work, Vashi Nedomansky (’92) needs a few things: He and the director must agree on the right balance of jest and reverence for the sports world’s most recognizable trophy. They need more financing. And they need for Canadian NHL teams to continue stinking up the rink every playoff season.
The basis of the film-to-be, which Yahoo! Sports recently featured in a story, calling it “the best hockey mockumentary you’ve never seen,” is that a crazed Canadian hockey fan is tired of the Stanley Cup being in the United States. He decides to steal it for his homeland. Thanks to early playoff departures this year by Ottawa and Vancouver, the movie—which the director started filming some eight years ago—still makes sense.
“We’re very grateful to the entire country of Canada for not winning the cup back and keeping the premise going,” says film editor Nedomansky, who earned his B.A. in film and video studies. “Big shout-out to Canada.”
The movie still has a long way to go. For one thing, it needs to become, well, a movie. Right now, director Dino Georgopoulos has captured some 400 hours of footage, of which about 398 hours will need to be cut. Much of the footage was collected thanks to the unprecedented access the NHL gave Georgopoulos to follow the cup.
“The biggest problem we have right now is tone,” says Nedomansky, who played hockey at U-M and for 10 years as a pro. “Dino wants the movie to be really reverent, and I get that. The NHL was really good about giving him access. My interest is [in]making sure that, entertainment-wise, the story is what we want it to be.
“I feel there is definitely a way to make it more a mockumentary—or hockumentary, if you want to call it that.”
Vashi Nedomansky at work on Saving Stanley, which has been in production for more than eight years. Introducing the movie's trailer, he writes: “This story must be told. The Stanley Cup's most incredible, bizarre, never-before-seen journey must be shared.” Photo courtesy of Vashi Nedomansky.
Both agree that unscripted moments—such as celebrity interviews about the Stanley Cup and a fan getting yelled at for hoisting the cup over his head, something only players can do—will be woven together with scripted segments in which comedic actors variously try to make money from the cup and steal it for their homeland.
The film has garnered its recent attention because of a trailer that Nedomansky posted on Vimeo, and since then, he’s heard from fans of hockey and movies alike who are excited about it. That includes his dad, Vaclav Nedomansky, who played for the Detroit Red Wings and other NHL teams. “His whole life was hockey, and he thinks this is funny. He really wants to see the full movie,” the younger Nedomansky says.
Now working on two other scripts, including a film he hopes to shoot at his high school alma mater, Detroit Country Day, Nedomansky is optimistic about the future of Saving Stanley.
That’s in no small part due to the passion of hockey fans. Even in Los Angeles, where he lives now, hockey fans abound. He plays pickup hockey with some guys named Kiefer Sutherland, Jerry Bruckheimer, and Cuba Gooding Jr. Like a lot of people all around this country (not to mention Canada), Nedomansky says, “they’re hockey fanatics.
“Everyone I talk to is super excited to see something more than just the trailer,” he says. He hopes they have a chance by the start of the next NHL season in October.