Your upcoming movie Wrestling with Sanity - in a few words,
what is it about?
With Sanity is
about the anguish of mental illness versus the escapism of pro wrestling
entertainment through the eyes of a young boy named Sam and his uncle
Eddie, who both experience post-traumatic stress syndrome and
hospitalizations after a car accident kills four people.
Do talk about the
film's focus on wrestling for a bit, and what does wrestling mean to you
wrestling is a very exciting and photogenic exercise. The wrestling in
this story represents the bond between Uncle and Nephew and how their own
little world of wrestling is their escape, namely Eddie's escape from his
own limitations, as a man-child of sorts, who struggles with mental
illness. Like a more seasoned, even cryptic Peter Pan, Eddie brings young
Sam into the brash and colorful world of wrestling. When Eddie and Sam
drag Sam's parents to a wrestling show, things take a turn for the worse
after the aforementioned car accident, and the line becomes blurred
between life and death. Four wrestlers named Concrete Rose, Syxo Spyxo,
Stylin' Brian and Rude Joe Spirit become vital parts of Sam's journey.
wrestling means a lot to me. As a child, the larger than life characters
were like real-life superheroes but with more humanity and more of an
edge. I actually stopped with cartoons and
comic books in order to watch wrestling and read wrestling magazines. I
had a pro wrestling card game, called The Superstar Pro Wrestling Game,
that I played for hours and perfected. I played with the action figures
etc. Both of my parents were generous in their support of this and took me
to many live pro wrestling shows.
later, I got involved in the local circuit as a ring announcer,
commentator, timekeeper and I even wrestled thirteen matches myself. I had
an interview with the human resources representative at Titan Tower
(WWE Headquarters) for the WWE Creative Writing Team. However, I think it's
more of a personal reference business. If anyone has direct connections to
the WWE, my comprehensive tournament based storyline would still be a good
fit for the company, and I'd love to share it with the true higher-ups at WWE.
Raven - photo by George Tahinos
What were your inspirations when
dreaming up Wrestling with Sanity? And to what extent do you
identify with either Eddie or Sam?
understand the many levels of battle that people diagnosed with a mental
illness face. It's a daily fight for understanding, happiness and even
survival. That is the nature of the beast. Many good people struggle
without proper support and are left to their own devices to get by. Wrestling
With Sanity will share the battle in a creative and narrative way
that many people can relate to.
uniformed or otherwise intelligent people will throw out terms like
"bi-polar" or "schizo" as insults when they don't
truly know of what they speak. It seems that many people consider
themselves expert enough to diagnose others mental health without truly
evaluating their own selves first... or at all.
legitimate mental illness gets lost in this and those that truly have a
serious condition can be marginalized and/or trivialized and/or discounted
as people. Many brilliant minds are wasted, many artists are squandered.
like to see that change.
wrestling is my friend. It's been there for me. People who face serious
hardships rely on all types of things to get them through. Some may choose
comic books or some other hobby. Others may have a personal relationship
that gets them through some tough times. For me, it's been wrestling and I
am unapologetic and will defend the sport and speak on its behalf to the
critics and "non-believers". It's not just "a soap opera
for men" or a "childhood hobby". For me and millions of
others, wrestling is the life-blood. It is life.
be blunt and "hard-core" as wrestling fans tend to be, when I
was younger I had troubling thoughts as many do. But I would never
consider suicide because there was always the next big Ric Flair match.
I identify with Eddie and Sam Pause. They pass through the doors of life
into death, and wrestling is there for them on both sides of that velvet
and Sam Pause come from me. We are brethren.
Wrestling with Sanity's narrative is
rather on the non-linear side - care to elaborate on this, and how hard
was it to not lose the story in the writing process?
non-linear nature of the story is how I experience life. I experience
things far differently than most people. For more on this, read my M-Life
Theory on www.mikemessier.com.
a creative industry, filmmakers and actors must think outside the box. For
Wrestling With Sanity, I'll challenge the audience to join
me way outside the box.
story of nephew and uncle in Wrestling With Sanity is
really held together by another major character named Concrete Rose. Rose
is the pro wrestler that both uncle and Sam look up to. Rose comes to be a
guardian angel of sorts to them in a projected vision by young Sam.
Rose in the story, the wrestling and ethereal worlds are brought together
in a unique way.
the female lead character of Elizabeth Metzger bridges the gap of our
story to the audience. While Metzger represents the audience, she also has
her own slant, so that is a delicate balance. To write the Wrestling
With Sanity story is to walk on a tight rope with shards of
broken glass and a barbed wire fence underneath. Stay the course or take
with Sanity has been in preparation for a long time - so do talk about
your efforts to get the project off the ground for a bit?
been tough. Very tough. I am a good writer.
Some would say a natural storyteller. However, I was not born into
connections within the film or business financing industries. So, whoever
reads this, if you've taken an interest in Wrestling With Sanity, and
you have some ideas on how or who may help fund this film, by all means
contact me. I'll correspond with all serious parties. I am still open to
enlist a proper crowdfunding campaign manager.
Wrestling with Sanity has already spawned a stageplay and a
trilogy of shorts [click
here] - care to talk about those, and how do they fit into what
I'd call the Wrestling with Sanity-universe?
piece was born from two creative writing classes and it was all very stream-of-conscious initially.
eventually made a deal with a Providence nightclub to host what became a
stage play called Victorious - The Battle for Sanity, and
it ran for four nights. I wrote and produced but did not direct or choose
time, I used the stage play narrative to move into a film screenplay. With
time, and many, many re-writes and table reads, the piece added
characters and the psychiatric hospital and pro wrestling backdrops.
I enlisted co-producer/DP/and Editor Tim Labonte to co-produce the Short
Film Trilogy. We used different actors for the short films based on my own
choosing. I think it's important to mention this because I think
“creative ownership” of a piece is highly important for a project to
fully come together.
eventually won three film awards for just the Short
Film Trilogy itself. I
find it cool that we won awards in both the categories of drama and comedy
in separate festivals.
Irina Peligrad, Mark Carter
photo by Courtney J. Wilson
also releasing a Wrestling with Sanity graphic novel these days -
want to talk about that one, and about your artist Marc Macrina, and what
made him perfect for the job? And of course, where's the graphic novel
graphic novel may be seen and read for free right on
Macrina is a smart and cool guy and I love his art. He's very gifted,
works hard and he “gets it”.
graphic novel is another way to promote the feature film screenplay.
Another way to relate the story.
Back to Wrestling with Sanity the
movie: You seem to have lined up quite a prolific cast already - care to
elaborate, and why exactly these people?
Peligrad plays Elizabeth the Therapist as seen in the Short
Irina just nailed the audition. Irina
has a real sense of style and her intellect shines through.
Canepa as Sam Pause is a very close friend of mine and he understands the
whole wrestling mentality as well as me personally. Mauro is highly
attuned with Sam.
Carter as Eddie Pause is a natural fit. There is a real chemistry between
my words and Mark's rapid fire dialogue in Eddie's rants. It's a great
character for Mark.
Concrete Rose, I contacted the pro wrestler Raven who has agreed to be in
the film when we have the proper finances in place. Raven is a real cool
guy and a straight shooter. He has lived the business of wrestling and he
fully understands the depth that many fans, and the wrestlers themselves,
get into it.
At what stage
is the project currently at, and any idea when you might start filming?
photo by Courtney J. Wilson
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
need at least $115,000 to produce, market and distribute this movie
properly. So I welcome all opportunities, resources and connections to
bring Wrestling With Sanity to its full feature film vision.
future projects of yours you'd like to share?
let Wrestling With Sanity shine in this
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
the creative process, my friend and fellow writer Mary DeBerry warns me of
the affliction she calls “film by committee”. I am naturally a very
open minded and generous person who believes that awesome artistic
contributions can come from anyone who has passion for a given project, be
it the set designer, the DP, the make-up artist, etc. However, as I
progress with my career, I realize that I must step up and be more of a
single-minded and focused leader, even if that makes others or me
uncomfortable. Comfort is not always a good thing it would seem.
am a member of a Facebook group called The Frugal Filmmaker, and there was
a post recently from one of the members named Alexander Fattal. Alexander
says, "I have a confession as a filmmaker... I plan projects, get all
excited, and fail to execute them. And then I get all depressed that I
didn't complete the project, and the cycle starts over again."
Alexander's consent, I share his words to inspire myself and other
filmmakers and artists out there to "finish what we start." It
is hard. Some projects are just difficult and can fall by the wayside,
even after tremendous amounts of work, time, patience, and money.
it's easy for one to forgive oneself and "move on" to the next
thing. One can't dwell on seemingly insurmountable obstacles and squander
in its shadow. However, I think that with too many projects "on
hold", on "the back burner", "in the cue", or
"in the mix", it becomes tougher and tougher to get any of them
off the ground and fully realized.
think many of us really independent filmmakers struggle
through this dilemma. So I understand and sympathize with others in this
creative and financial quandary. For those who follow my career, let it be
known that I work on my own goals to finish the projects that I've started
daily. I owe that to people, myself included, and also to the art itself. I
consider my life's work to be Wrestling With Sanity and
either I'll complete the work or die trying.
for the interview!
thank you for your continued support of myself and other independent
by Mary DeBerry