The world of wrestling entertainment is often under fire for being fake but there’s nothing fake about the depression that can affect the wrestlers in the ring.
Maple Ridge’s Derek Hird, known in the ring as MR2, will be joining forces with Theo Francon (Ravenous Randy Myers) of Port Coquitlam-based Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling (ECCW) to make a short film called The Weirdo Hero about depression and mental health. Filming for the project is slated to start Sunday in Vancouver.
Hird suffers from depression and said he had a lot of conversations with friends and family about mental health after comedian and actor Robin Williams committed suicide. And Francon recently returned to the ring after taking a leave of absence from August until January to deal with his depression.
In a voice-over in the film trailer, Francon says, “It doesn’t matter that I’ve been beat up by 300 lb. men, it’s how I feel inside. My greatest injury doesn’t come in the hands of my wrestling foes, it comes from dealing with depression.
“I’ve been a professional wrestler for 14 years and I’ve been dealing with depression for 32 years,” he said.
The trailer also shows Hird telling his story live, entering the ring as himself, not MR2, and pitching the movie to a crowd of wrestling fans.
But despite a positive response to him baring his soul, “I let my fears control me and I bolted from the ring and hid in the alley for 20 minutes.”
Hird said the terror and self-doubt he felt speaking publicly about his depression was unlike anything he’d experienced.
“When I finally came back inside,” he recalled, “a couple of guys told me how great it was and the fans told me how they were moved by my speech.”
Mary Ness from Port Coquitlam — her ring name is Mary Diaz — is the co-owner of ECCW and is helping support the film by donating the ring to be used during filming, providing the talent in the ring and helping with social media.
“They want to give back to the community and depression is something that people are starting to talk about, [how] to get the message out and how to get help.” Ness said.
Producers are also looking for financial aid from strangers through the crowdfunding website indiegogo.com (indiegogo.com/projects/the-weirdo-hero-short-film). As of Wednesday afternoon, they had raised a little over $4,100 of their $9,800 target. Contributions of $20 or more allow for a seat in the audience during filming and a credit in the film.
Canadian poet and author Shayne Koyczan, who came to fame performing at the opening ceremonies for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, is the script writer for The Weirdo Hero. His video “To This Day” has been influential in anti-bullying and has reached over 14 million views.
WANT TO WATCH?
• Filming of The Weirdo Hero takes place Sunday, March 15 at the Russian Community Centre, 2114 W. 4th Ave., Vancouver. Besides donating to the indiegogo.com campaign, you can get on the standby list for tickets by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading “Tickets.” The doors will be open at noon and spectators must be in their seats by 1 p.m. For more information, visit theweirdohero.com.