Filmmakers of ‘The Next Play’ talk about their movie at press event, seek field hockey athletes for film production in July 2025

As parents of children who play field hockey, sisters Koula Kazista and Katina Sossiadis see more than just their daughters competing in games.


They see pressure and emotional stress. Before after games, on car rides, at the dinner table. They see players interact and compete. They see joy and other emotions, too, and as filmmakers, they have the unique opportunity to tell the world about it in a creative way.


Kazista and Sossiadis, Bethlehem natives, are ramping up production of their new film, “The Next Play,” which is scheduled to begin filming in the Lehigh Valley in July 2025. They previously wrote and directed “Epiphany” (2019), a film about a girl struggling to create a relationship with her father. That film has more than eight million views on YouTube.


Kazista and Sossiadis officially introduced their project publicly at a press event on Thursday night at the Civic Theatre in Allentown. Local actor Daniel Roebuck and current Olympian Ashley Sessa (one of 11 from Pennsylvania) each shot a video message for the event. Comedians and singer Galen Deery also performed before Kazista and Sossiadis took questions.


Many in the local field hockey community were present, as were some of their friends and supporters in the industry. When it came time for ideas for their next film, the choice was not difficult.


“When we started thinking about what we can write about, we thought, ‘What’s our next project,'” Kazista said. “It takes a little bit of time because you want to make sure that it’s the right thing, so we wrote something for our producers in Los Angeles and they said, ‘This kind of feels like the first one. Why don’t you do something outside of the box?’


“They asked us, ‘What are you two into right now?’ and we were like, ‘Field hockey.’ And we thought this is a world that we would like to showcase. Sports movies are fun and there are hardly any about women. So we decided to do a sports movie.”


“It’s a big passion for us,” Sossiadis said. “It’s never been done as a movie in the U.S. It’s been done internationally, but never here. We thought we could give it all the glory that it is. I’m a big advocate of the sport. It’s a big passion of ours.”


Sossiadis played only a little, in third grade, but Kazista is a former player at Moravian Academy. With their daughters playing at Nazareth and Freedom high schools and in clubs, they became more familiar with the game that they like very much.


And they became familiar with the subtext that affects the players and the game.


“The coach pressure. The parental pressure. The self pressure,” Kazista said. “The pressure from the other girls on the team. It’s on these kids and it causes mental health problems. It’s a field hockey movie, but it’s also a mental health movie.”


The movie centers on the rivalry between two high school teammates: a struggling star player and a competitive newcomer.


A field hockey movie alone is probably not enough to get a movie made, especially since virtually no field hockey movie exists. Sossiadis, the more artistic of the two, became familiar with the story of Morgan Rodgers, a former Duke University women’s lacrosse player, who died by suicide in 2019.


“We started a relationship with Donna (Morgan’s mother) and Gary (Morgan’s uncle),” Sossiadis said. “We learned more about their organization and became inspired.”


One of the symbols of Morgan’s Message, a butterfly, will be a part of the film. T-shirts and other items with Morgan’s butterfly were on sale at the event.


“It’s a natural thing that happens with young girls,” Kazista said. “They’re competitive and that happens. There are girls that are rivals. There are girls that try to help each other. Of the two girls in our script, one girl is Reese. She’s very competitive and going through a slump and a new girl (Cait) comes onto the team and takes her spot. It’s about these two girls and their rivalry.”


In the movie industry, Kazista and Sossiadis worked their way up from the bottom while raising a family. It wasn’t easy. It meant taking the children to Tarpon Springs, Florida, for the filming of “Epiphany.” It meant other sacrifices and adjustments. Kazista had to care for children Mena, Teddy and Manny, while Sossiadis also had to care for children Ellie, Mari and Ari.


Cousins Mena (Nazareth) and Ellie (Freedom) competed against each other when the Blue Eagles faced the Patriots.


“Raising children while working in the film industry is very difficult,” Kazista said. “But it is so important for us to show our children that dreams come true. I know it may seem corny, but as young girls we dreamed of being filmmakers. It took us a long time to get here but we just kept persevering and working towards our first feature. Our children were small then and we are not sure they fully understood what we were trying to achieve. This experience on “The Next Play” is very different. Our girls are integral in the process, especially my niece, Ellie…All of our children helped out and seemed interested in what we were doing.”


Once the idea for “The Next Play” blossomed, a million other things had to fall in place.


“You need a screenplay,” Sossiadis said. “You need a beginning, a middle and an end. You play around with characters and develop those. Trying to get the best script possible and start writing it.


“That’s an interesting process, writing with your sister and working creatively. She’ll come up with something and text me, saying, ‘Hey, what about this?’ And, I’m like ‘hey, what about this?’ We’re constantly talking. We’re constantly erasing and adding from the script just to get the best product possible.”


Sossiadis said that she imagines scenes while she is writing them, making the fact that they are both writers and directors important.


“We love each other, but we don’t like each other all the time,” Kazista said. “Katina is very creative. She has a lot of these big ideas. She’s an artist. She has these amazing ideas, but they need to be put in a more practical and logical way. That’s where we work together. She writes the dialogue and we put it into the script. I have more of a hand on the structure.”


As for casting, professional actors will get the big roles, but Sossiadis and Kazista want real Pennsylvanians on the field during the game scenes. They dislike movies with actors who cannot play the game.


“That’s a very big thing for us,” Kazista said. “To be honest, we know what the game looks like because we’ve been watching it for so many years….We plan on casting local girls who know how to play, but we’re not sure about the main roles…They need to know how to play.


“Field hockey is huge in Pennsylvania. Why wouldn’t we shoot here?”


Tim Shoemaker is a freelance writer.

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