As children, most of us have entertained outrageous fantasies about our adult destinies—Olympic athletes, presidents, supermodels, circus clowns—and most of us recognized the rational investment and realistic possibilities involved and outgrew them. But not everyone.
Reggie, 31, and his buddy Maurice, are sure they have what it takes to be professional wrestlers. They practice less-than-legitimate maneuvers on their backyard wrestling mat, made of mattresses, and spin narratives of their stardom while chain-smoking pot and cigarettes in the garage of Reggie’s mom’s house—where he still lives.
They are two, true blue idiots and the stars of Heel Kick!, a hilarious mockumentary made by Edmonton-born filmmaker Danny Mac that will be enjoying its world premiere at Metro Cinema this weekend. Starring alongside Danny are two of his lifelong best friends, Chris Wilcox as Maurice and Cooper Bibaud as Roger, the documentarian.
Did I mention Reggie and Maurice are idiots? They really are, and Mac has nailed the characters. Intelligence is low, life-experience is almost non-existent, and they have each other as primary influences. On top of that, Reggie is kind of a jerk. But they are both sure-as-shit convinced they’re going to be pro-wrestling stars. That is until Reggie’s brother comes over for a barbeque and roasts them both, calling them out on all their nonsense and challenging them to step up, go to wrestling school and do something to realize their dreams. Either that or grow up, get out of their mom’s house and get on with adulting.
So, Reggie and Maurice accept the challenge and are not only promptly enrolled in Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling (ECCW), but have a film crew—from a start-up sports channel specializing in obscure sports—follow the guys around to document their progress. The documentary on Reggie and Maurice was the first to be aired by the network, which went under a week later. It’s a wonderfully disastrous dynamic enhanced by appearances from Reggie’s fake girlfriend and the pals’ drug dealer.
While the writing is creative and the story capitalized upon in every way—think FUBAR meets Trailer Park Boys—what has kept me chuckling are the completely unscripted scenes and reactions from those involved with ECCW—the real pro-wrestling gym in Vancouver where the actors trained and shot parts of the film.
“That was one of many moments where I just decided that people in the scene didn’t need to know anything,” says Mac, who not only wrote the script, but co-produced, directed and stars as Reggie.
“Me and Chris sat around planning our mid-term match a few days before, in real life, just move for move and what we were going to do, and then we told some of the ECCW guys to show up and judge our match and watch it, and that was it. So they watched what we put on and that is their legitimate reaction to our match, and those are their legitimate comments about the quality of our match.”
Chatting from his apartment in Vancouver—and coming across as anything but the ill-spoken and immature Reggie—Danny explains the triumphs and challenges of being a micro-budget filmmaker. When they realized they needed to reshoot some backyard scenes a few weeks after wrapping, they were blown away to find the city of Vancouver had demolished the house they were using. But, it was easily solved with some slick editing skills and an easily workable context.
“That was kind of a trick up our sleeve, the mockumentary genre,” says Mac, who’s learned almost everything he knows from his make-shift film school—making a full-length film and every mistake in the book while doing it. The result was Love/Hate, which was released in 2011 to two packed houses at The Garneau/Metro Cinema and later sold to Super Channel.
Another unforeseen bonus was the subject matter itself. While Mac spent a few adolescent years enamoured with the pro-wrestling scene, his cousin actually went to wrestling school—dropping out shortly thereafter—which inspired enough curiosity in Mac to explore this backroom phenomenon.
“Wrestling fans are really passionate and they don’t have any narrative films,” Mac says. “Our co-producer—he’s this YouTube star, so once he started tweeting about the trailer and getting the word out, we started getting requests from people literally all over the world saying, ‘We’re huge wrestling fans in my city, bring it here.’”
Sat., Mar. 18 (4 pm) &
Tue., Mar. 21 (7 pm)
Metro Cinema, $13.50