Interview with @ Stake Magazine

Depression and Wrestling

By Stacey Gillard

After winning the ECCW Championship, Randy struggles as his real world responsibilities come crashing down around him. In the fight of his life with undiagnosed depression and treading water financially, his efforts are made harder by an animated version of his own self doubt that terrorizes him until he finds himself on the literal edge – The Weirdo Hero

With depression and suicide being much talked about in media in recent years efforts are being made across the globe to destigmatize the diagnosis and allow sufferers to be open and honest about their experiences without fear of judgment. Producer Derek Hird, director Ryan Curtis and wrestler Randy Myers have come together to bring us The Weirdo Hero, a movie influenced by events experienced by both Derek and Randy. At Stake recently had the chance to chat with the men behind this fascinating insight into depression in entertainment.

At Stake Magazine: What brought you together as a team?

Ryan Curtis: Originally this was a project that we submitted for Crazy8’s film fest, but didn’t get selected. We liked the story and idea so much that we decided to go ahead with it on our own.  We have a whole team of super talented people who have come on board to donate their time and equipment to the cause. Its fantastic to work with such great people.

At Stake Magazine: Why was this project appealing to you as a director?

Ryan Curtis: As a director this project was appealing to me because I really like character driven movies. I enjoy films that are focusing on the character and their emotions.  With a project like this we get to explore the inner feelings of a man dealing with depression, which has so many different emotions connected with it, it will be very complex.

Some directors start with simpler projects that are very visually interesting like music videos, but to me it’s about the people , the emotions, and the communication that are exciting.

At Stake Magazine: You are currently working on the TV show Supernatural as VFX Coordinator. What or who inspired you to try your hand at directing?

Ryan Curtis: I am blessed that I get to work with some really talented directors everyday. I have had the chance to see new brand new directors, and grizzled veterans. So for me its about taking all the good little pieces of each of them and apply it to my own style.

At Stake Magazine: With Randy being plagued by his animated self it seems post-production will have a big role to play. Was your background in VFX a factor in the decision to bring you on as director?

Ryan Curtis: The fact that I come from a VFX background definitely helps, because  I am not intimidated by shooting things that aren’t there. I know in my own head the correct steps and all the data we will need to collect on the day, so when the animators get to work they will have the ability to blend the animated character seamlessly into the scene.

At Stake Magazine: Can you talk about the challenges you envision portraying the dichotomy of a seemingly confident sports personality who is also battling inner demons?

Randy Myers: Honestly that part doesn’t scare me half as much as remembering my lines does.

I believe that demons lurk within us all and depression issues just happen to be the name of mine. Which is something a lot of people may not see or expect being that I tend to be my happiest when I am around people or when I perform. But sometimes it’s hard to put on that smile when you are alone as many people know. It’s from that experience that I plan to draw from when I play this character.

At Stake Magazine: There has recently been a lot of publicity about the link between depression and the brain injuries sustained in hockey and football. What was your inspiration behind choosing wrestling as a subject matter?

Derek Hird: Why Professional Wrestling? It’s something both Randy and myself have been involved in for well over 12 years and we both love. Wrestling allows us to really show the difference between the incredible highs and lows of life. One minute you are achieving your dreams while being adored by hundreds or even thousands of cheering fans to the next day where life is staring you in the face and nothing brings you joy no matter how good things are. Wrestlers, more than football or hockey or acting, really get to connect with people, especially on the independent circuit where the smaller buildings make it very intimate. These days the fans understand more than ever that we don’t just make dumb show and noise, we are highly physical entertainers and they get to see up close and personal, they love it even more.

I’ve known Randy for a number of years, but mostly at wrestling where he is outrageous, zany and just a really nice guy that is loved by all his fans.  Then I heard that he had depression and I was shocked, although in hindsight I shouldn’t have been.

At Stake Magazine: Once the movie is made what media will you be using for release?

Derek Hird: We will first be entering it into as many festivals as possible and I believe that the story is extremely strong and has potential to be very successful as a result. In addition, we will also be submitting it to networks (Bravo, Netflix etc.) as additional content. There will also be Blu-Ray DVDs with loads of cool extras and behind the scenes footage as well as streaming media.

At Stake Magazine: How can people help get the movie made?

Derek Hird: The topic of depression and understanding what it’s like is beyond important and it’s a passion project that needs to be told. There are 2 things we really need:

1. The most important thing is funding. Everyone is working for free, we are calling in favors from everywhere but that only goes so far. We still need money to rent buildings, pay for equipment, insurance, food, animation, festivals, DVD’s, posters, wardrobe, building sets and a lot more. Go to our website and click on the funding link. We have many fantastic rewards and more coming. Even $5.00 can go a long way.

2. A crowd for our wrestling scenes. We want to fill the building with 150-200 people. We have many people attending but we want to make sure we have enough. 

  Thanks to Derek, Ryan and Randy for taking the time to talk to us. We are all very excited to see this movie get made and the conversations it sparks about this exceptionally important subject matter.