Independent film is something near and dear to my heart. Before I began writing about wrestling, I was heavily involved in indy film. So I was very excited when I ran across a plea for help from the producer of an independent film titled “Heel Kick!”
“Heel Kick!” is a labor of love written, co-starring, and co-directed by Danny Mac of Vancouver, British Columbia. Mac shared some information about himself and the movie with me in the hopes that some wrestling and indy film fans will jump in and support the film through the GoFundMe campaign he currently has running.
Watch the trailer below, then stick around to read more.
ESW: Tell me about yourself. When did you get into wrestling, and have you ever been involved in the business?
Danny Mac: I got into wrestling as a fan around the mid-90s, right before Bret Got Screwed and the Attitude Era was about to explode. I grew out of it, as some do, a few years later, but my fascination with the behind-the-scenes aspect of the business never died. I would always read a wrestler’s autobiography, or an article on what had happened backstage after a PPV. So I became this sort of mechanical fan, if you will– someone not interested in the final product as much as the way it was all put together. The interest I had in the inner-workings of the business end of pro wrestling continued even when I began studying acting and screenwriting. It was such a unique subset of an already unique sub-genre. One day, as I was thinking of an idea for my next film, the old expression “write what you know” came to mind, and for better or worse, one of the things I felt like I knew was the wrestling business… Or so I thought at the time, anyway.
I only entered the pro wrestling business officially when I started shooting a film about it. As I wrote Heel Kick!, it was obvious that some significant training was going to be needed to tell this story in a way that wouldn’t disrespect pro wrestling fans. So I placed myself and my costar, Chris Wilcox, in a 6 month training program with ECCW, a prominent wrestling promotion in the Pacific Northwest. It wasn’t easy, but we eventually gained some confidence in the ring. And before I knew it, I was spending just as much time wrestling as I was making the film. They were intrinsically tied; the success of one directly effecting the success of the other. It was a challenging year, but once I was able to step away from the wrestling side and focus on the film, things got easier. So my “career” in professional wrestling didn’t last long, but it certainly made an impact (pun… let’s say, intended).
ESW: How did the idea for Heel Kick come about?
Danny Mac: The idea for the film came from a few different places. Like I mentioned, simply having an interest in the business was the first deciding factor. But I also had an older cousin that seriously wanted to pursue professional wrestling. And we all thought he was going to make it as well– about 6’3″, incredibly fit, well-spoken, he was the exact kind of guy you’d expect to eventually see on Monday Night Raw. So he left to train at the Lance Storm Academy in Calgary… then quit after a week. We were shocked, as this was something he not only seemed tailor-made for, but had been planning his entire life. He never spoke too deeply on why he left, simply saying that he discovered it wasn’t for him. But I couldn’t help but think that if this guy, 6’3″, 220, creative and intelligent, if he couldn’t make it work, just imagine how tough it must be for some of the other guys in training.
Lastly, as an independent filmmaker with limited resources, you always have to ask yourself, “How can I add production value to a micro-budget film?” Would I jump off a ladder? Get hit with a folding chair? Allow myself to be beaten by professional wrestlers? I wrote down a hit-list of everything we could inflict upon ourselves and divvied it up between the two main characters. And so the stage for Heel Kick! was set.
ESW: Can you give me a quick story pitch?
Danny Mac: The story is about two backyard wrestlers that, after years of procrastinating, decide to finally get training and go pro. The only problem is… they suck.
ESW: Who is in the movie? Any faces people would (or should!) know from the wrestling business?
Danny Mac: Like Spinal Tap or the legendary Canadian mock-doc, FUBAR, we wanted to keep this movie as intimate and believable as possible. Because of that, it benefited us to leave out major names from the world of wrestling. However, people may recognize Impact Wrestling’s Laurel Van Ness, IFBB Pro Body Builder, Ron Partlow, or YouTube Star, Greg Miller in the film (Greg is also our co-producer on Heel Kick!). Beyond that, the stars of the hyper-talented ECCW roster appear throughout the film, with Scotty Mac and Ravenous Randy playing integral parts, on and off camera. In regards to actors in the film, it’s filled with up-and-coming talent that you’ll be a seeing a lot more of, on screens both big and small.
ESW: What will the gofundme dollars allow you to do?
Danny Mac: We’ve begun a brief but aggressive GoFundMe campaign to help us get Heel Kick! out of the gates and into some theaters across North America. We tried to avoid crowdfunding, but the costs at the end really piled up fast, and as we spent extra time making sure the edit was perfect, our budget got away from us. That said, the campaign for this project is unique in that the film is already shot and, if we reach our goal, only months away from being released. Anyone close to the world of indie film can attest that most crowdfunding efforts are to raise funds for initial production, oftentimes without a script even in place. In our case, if you’re able to contribute anything, you will be able to see the results of your generosity this year, no question. In fact, we’re still adding the names of everyone who contributes to the end credits of our film. We need to lock picture soon, so if this sounds like a movie that interests you and you can toss the campaign a couple bucks, we’d love to thank you publicly. That said, anything you give before late-February will directly result in the film getting closer to a theatrical tour, as well as placement on VOD services.
ESW: If all is successful, when do you expect to release the movie?
Danny Mac: If all goes well, we will be able to announce not only our World Premiere location and dates, but followup cities and pre-order opportunities on iTunes and the like. If our goal is reached, all of this is right around the corner, as early as March or April of this year! Like I said, our film is done, it’s just a few outstanding costs preventing us from hitting your screens.
ESW: Anything else to add?
Danny Mac: We’re looking to partner up with indie-wrestling promotions around Canada and the US for each city we screen in, and I will personally fly down to attend every screening, followed by a Q&A, and a meet-and-greet/afterparty for each show. Assuming there’s enough interest, we’d like to hit anywhere from 8-20 cities, so if you think you and your friends would like a screening and could fill a theater– let us know! We’d love you to find us online and be a part of this film’s release. Like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter, and Instagram, so we can keep you in the loop and hear what you have to say. And of course, we’re still searching for some angels out there to help us hit our crowdfunding goal, so go ahead, make our day.
Over 3 years in the making… We can’t wait for you all to see the film!