Loading Docs is a launching pad for New Zealand short documentaries which has just released 10 new films. We’ll be featuring each of the films and profiling the directors behind them.
DIRECTOR PROFILE: J.Ollie Lucks
Larger than life former pro-wrestler Wilbur Force (William McDougall) commands the screen in a new Loading Docs film, battling his ‘worst self’ alongside director and friend J.Ollie Lucks.
Lucks first became aware of McDougall when he was a student taking theatre 101 classes in Dunedin.
“I was the German sitting in the front row taking notes, paying attention, being there on time, and he would usually get in late, sit in the back and yell inappropriate remarks and annoy me,” says Lucks.
Despite a mediocre introduction, Lucks eventually got to know McDougall better at a party, and came to appreciate his unique sense of humour and talent.
“We got talking and I realised he’s actually super smart, he’s just a very good improvisational comedian, that needs an audience,” says Lucks.
“I just fell in love with his humour, the way he makes fun of you but you never feel offended, you just laugh about yourself with him, he’s so spot on with the punches he pulls. He’s quite a talent.”
Since cementing their friendship, Lucks had always wanted to undertake a creative project with McDougall, but after McDougall started wrestling in Wellington, it seemed unlikely.
When McDougall eventually returned to Dunedin to be closer to friends and family, it was Lucks turn to move up north. Feeling isolated, McDougall became depressed, started gaining weight, and withdrew.
“[That’s] thing that he was missing when he was in Dunedin stuck in his room, he didn’t have an audience, he didn’t have someone to rip into, that’s his forte,” says Lucks.
He went from being this performer who has larger than life, doing what he loved, to literally living in a one room apartment with no job, and health issues. That contrast is really striking.
Upon returning to Dunedin and seeing his friend slipping in a rut, Lucks was eager to see his McDougall’s talents on the big screen, and have his confidence reinstalled.
“The film was designed to get him off his lazy ass and remind him of his best self,” says Lucks.
Wilbur Force producer and friend Veronica Stevenson felt the same way.
“I was very keen to see something change for Wilbur, he really did need a shake up,” says Stevenson.
“He went from being this performer who has larger than life, doing what he loved, to literally living in a one room apartment with no job, and health issues. That contrast is really striking.”
Through their film Stevenson and Lucks artfully explore McDougall’s vulnerabilities, and his triumphant personality, imbibing the fighting spirit of his wrestling days.
“The film is a personification of his worst attributes - his laziness and obesity, so we’ve got a cape made of chocolate wrappers, a big tv as a shield, a sleep apnea mask as a device for my face,” says Lucks.
Producer Stevenson enjoyed the chance to work with her friends on a project that was personal, and unique.
“It was a cool mix of creative stretch and working with friends, but also working on a kind of film I hadn't worked on before, so it created a really great dynamic.”
Working on film appears to have reawakened McDougall’s creativity, something his friends have been proud to see.
“Wilbur is auditioning again, he is set to go down and compete in wrestling again, he’s got a new outfit we made for the film specifically, he has lost 20 kilograms over the last 6 months, and blood pressures in a healthy range for the first time in ages, it’s made a massive difference,” says Stevenson.
And importantly, the film received McDougall’s seal of approval.
“His reaction was that he loved it, and that he’s proud of me, in a very Wilbur way, of being half serious, but I was happy that he liked it,” says Lucks.
Story by Elizabeth Beattie.