Inspiring, energizing and at times a little troubling, the Lake Stevens premier of “Berzerker” a MTV documentary to be aired in January, debuted to a packed house at the high school Performing Arts Center last Tuesday, Nov. 22.
MTV cameras followed the 2010-2011 State Champion wrestling team for two months last season filming practices, meets and some very personal experiences. The idea for the documentary was a collaboration of Lake Stevens High School’s longtime wrestling coach Brent Barnes along with Lake Stevens High School graduate and Hollywood star Chris Pratt.
Pratt, who was a LSHS wrestler during his four years as a Viking, has continued to keep in touch with Barnes since he left Lake Stevens over a decade ago.
“Chris and I have been talking back and forth for years,” Barnes said.
Barnes has eight state titles under his belt and knows how to motivate kids to be the best they can be, both on the mat and off. So, with Pratt’s connections in Hollywood and his first-hand experience as a high school wrestler under the guidance of Barnes, the two knew they had a winning idea.
“To have a show done about your high school wrestling team you have to have somebody who can get it done,” Barnes said. “That’s where Chris comes in.”
After pitching the idea to several people including ESPN and MTV, who told Pratt no at first, they soon had the money and the commitment of MTV to make the in-depth documentary.
“What started as an idea has turned into a reality, Pratt said. “I know what I went through here. The goal of this was basically to see what these kids go through. This (the documentary content) is what I’m trying to say to people when I tell them I wrestled at Lake Stevens High School.”
The play button was pushed and the crowd soon got to see the 90 minute documentary for themselves as camera crews followed the team focusing on a handful of wrestlers including Jack Reeves, Steven Walkley, Ryan Rodrigo, Eric Soler and Jesse Peterson. Barnes and Assistant Coach Andy Knutson were also _______ .
Watching kids starve themselves and exercise for hours on end to lose weight for a meet, team in-fighting and even witnessing 103-pound wrestler Jesse Peterson being rush to the hospital after having trouble waking up during a meet made for some rough moments. But that’s what Pratt and Barnes hoped for.
“It’s not just a high school sport, it’s a family, it shapes them as young men and women,” Barnes said. “A normal human being wouldn’t do this.”
“It’s raw and it’s real,” Pratt said.
And real it was. Watching the team fight for the state championship title brought cheers and applause from the audience as Walkley not only won the state title in his 140-pound weight class but also earned the team enough points to pull out the state title. The audience felt like they were there at the moment Walkley’s arm was raised by the ref.
“It was different but it was really good,” Peterson said. “It definitely caught the real thing.”
“It’s not perfect but dealing with teens isn’t perfect,” Barnes said. “In the end you hope they have learned something.”
“I’ve done a lot of things in Hollywood but I don’t think I have ever been as nervous as I was hitting play tonight,” Pratt said.
The 90 minute film which was executive produced by Pratt, has been sent to both the Sundance Film Festival and the South by Southwest Film Festival but will air on MTV as a 43 minute documentary.
“I hated wrestling, I really hated it and I wasn’t going to do it,” Pratt told the crowd of many 2011-2012 wrestlers. “I’m so glad I finished it. When it gets hard and you want to quit – don’t quit. You don’t want to look back and have regrets. I have taken that lesson with me throughout life.”