Get to Know Will Boe-Wiegaard, Coming to a Court and a Screen Near You
Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
At Tennis East Coast, we pride ourselves on digging a little deeper into the sport rather than just the big names. You know, the big names that drive all the web traffic. In that regard, I was interested to learn about a documentary being shot on a player whose name you may not even know. Filmmaker Jake McClain explains what he hopes to accomplish with his focus on the world #1211 with a lot of heart, William Boe-Wiegaard.
Tell me more about the basics of the documentary.
JM: The documentary is called ‘1, 1000, and Love’. It follows a #1200 player in the world, William Boe-Wiegaard, as he continues his dream of making it on the ATP tour. I chose the title because I think I can get a real in depth perspective of the tour from the #1 in the world, to the top 100, to the 220-280s that just fight to qualify for the grand slams, to the 500s that want to make challengers regularly, and the 1000s (like Will) that want to get out of that black hole and start seeing true results. This documentary will deal with everything from the struggles with consistency, to the good times on the road (and bad), to the constant struggle to get more prize money. It’s Will’s show, but I want everyone to see this through other eyes too.
What motivated you to do this documentary?
JM: Weird story about that. My personality is the type that when I really dive into something, I go full blast. Basically, I played the game for eighteen years the exact same way, which was basically being the wall from hell that had no business beating 90 percent of my opponents, along with piss poor technique. Long story short on that, I got killed in a tournament by almost getting golden setted twice (five points each set), and that told me that I needed to learn the game from absolute scratch. Absolute scratch meant watching every single type of tennis match, from the 50s and 60s, to 70s and 80s, and 90s to now…and basically living on the Tennis Channel. I still think I’m one of five people in the world who knows who Danielle Dotzenrod is, and that includes Billy Bob Thornton.
Anyway, one thing led to another and I started recording every tennis match from the ATP tour…even the qualifying matches(You know you really get into it when you know who Lamine Ouahab is). Couple months in, I found out I was starting to know who everyone on the tour was, and most of them I knew their game. I knew I had to do something with this info, and a YouTube video helped answer this for me.
I saw five minutes of Mark Keil’s absolutely horrendous documentary on life on the tour. It might as well been called “Al Bundy of tennis”. Hey, look at me, I once beat Pete Sampras! Might as well have said he scored four touchdowns in a game in high school. I decided I want to make a better documentary with a real subject…and I started looking around. Saw many candidates…one’s too much of a mama’s boy for this to work, one wants to party too much, one’s too successful, that sort of thing. Then I ran into Will Boe-Wiegaard’s website, and it was the most intriguing story to me. Here is someone that is giving
every little drop of his blood, sweat, and tears to making it on the tour…even relying on small time sponsors. He’s beyond the age where anyone would think he would go any farther, but still goes for it anyway, and those are the type of people I roll with…strong, motivated, never quit, and give it their all. Considering I have a friend who is forty-five years old, ran twenty-eight miles on his forty-fifth birthday, and played in his first pro tournament a month later against a nineteen year old, I’ll never consider Will a lost case. I believe in anyone’s chances at any type of success who truly want it bad enough.
So I email Will and he got back to me pretty quickly. We had a long conversation, and he agreed to be the subject.
Tell me more about yourself, mainly your filmmaking history, as well as your personal interest and history in tennis.
JM: In my acting and filmmaking career, I’ll admit I’ve been through the grinder of the indie world. I started all this a little over a decade ago when I produced and directed a documentary entitled “Keep The Flame Alive” about my alma mater’s(Lee University Flames) run in the NAIA tournament, and also tried to get a side subject on what it’s like to make a name for yourself outside of the world of ESPN’s cameras, but I wasn’t anywhere near experienced, or good enough, to pull that off(First movie and all). Then to bring a REALLY long story to a cliffs notes version, I go between North Carolina and Tennessee for a while helping on a movie, things ended in an unfortunate manner, and I decided to move to Atlanta, GA, where I
decided I wanted to take real acting training.
So fast forward five to seven years and I get some small time acting credits and just trying to get my name out there. In the last couple of months, after feeling like I was on a treadmill going nowhere, I decided to kill the career path I was on and start over a little bit. I still act, but I decided I will choose a smarter path from here on out. I have enough experience now to make that decision.
Far as my history in tennis, I’ve played a long time, but the reason I decided to learn the game from scratch was that I taught myself the game. Played three hours a day hitting against a wooden garage door pretending to either be Boris Becker or Pete Sampras, depending on the year. It was tremendous for exercise, but absolutely poor for technique, and I adopted some horrendously bad habits. Because of that, I was pretty much a 3.0 level player for eighteen years, and as I mentioned earlier, I beat a LOT of players over the years I had no business beating because of my style, which was basically tap, tap, tap, lob, tap, chase, tap, chase, lob, tap, lather, rinse, repeat, opponent hits it wide out of frustration. Of course I’d lose to much more skilled players, but I thought I’d get older and keep improving…and it never happened. So the aforementioned starting over point came when I got shelled that badly, and I wanted to learn the game. I’m happy to say that while it’s taken a couple of years, I’m finally starting to win regularly again, and win correctly for the first time in my life. I’m never going to Wimbledon, but I know I can keep building my game over the years.
My first favorite player was Boris Becker. Mind you, I liked McEnroe, but he was too scrawny looking, and had a little too much finesse for my eight year old brain. I was always rooting for the big guy that could fight when I grew up, and Boris looked like that guy. He had big legs, broad shoulders, and played like Rambo…just ferocious. Then when that was over, I became a fan of Pete Sampras. Again, it had everything to do with power, and his serve fit the bill. These days, my favorite players are(in order) Ferrer, Federer, Djokovic, Nadal, Nishikori, and a few others. The first match I ever watched was the Becker-Curran Wimbledon final in 1985. Yes, I was seven, and yes my memory stretches pretty far back. Remember the match vividly.
Tell me more about Will and what motivates him to keep trying to grind it out in pro tennis and so forth.
JM: He’s someone with a hell of a lot of ambition who has gone through a ton of obstacles and injuries over the years, and still continues with the grind. I want this movie to accomplish two things.
I want the audience to see what a tennis player must go through on the tour, and the unbelievable stress they have to deal with in their day-to-day lives. Understand that I relate to these people very much because, like them, I do not have a 9-5 office job mentality. We are creatures that want to explore and do what we want to do, and not accept the inevitable lifestyle, so this shows Will, along with everyone else, struggling to keep this up, but loving it all the same. No disrespect to any other player, American or otherwise, but that’s just what I thought.
Second, I want to finally help Will get that break. Out of all the players I have researched, I see this guy as someone who wants it the most, and is willing to go that extra mile, and I want to help him get there, whether financially, training, or through this movie. In life, we all need a leg up from time to time, and some luck to come our way. It’s the smart ones that understand where it’s coming from.
Does the documentary plan to feature any other players besides Will?
JM: As I said, yes it does. There are many stories out there that need to be told. This is Will’s show, of course, but to break the monotony, we’ll show others. I’d love for this movie to help bring popularity back to tennis, even if it’s a slower build.
what is the style of the documentary, is it first person, does it feature a lot of match play footage, does it feature a lot of behind the scenes footage, a lot of interviews? etc.
The style of the documentary will be first person for sure. I’ll be following him around, especially in his new training(undetermined right and in his tournament travels. Match footage decision is the tournament’s, but I think I could probably sneak some from time to time. And yes, lots of interviews and lots of behind the scenes.
What is the time frame of the documentary? When will it be filmed, and what is the time frame for the release of the documentary?
JM: Time frame will be taken throughout the ATP tour season. There is no release date planned at this moment, but I’ll know more when I get the final product finished.
Where can the documentary be found once it is released?
JM: I plan to take this documentary on the film festival circuit, and then I would love for this to either be shown on Tennis Channel, ESPN 30 for 30, or both, but that depends on how well it does with the festivals. One thing at a time.
What is your favorite part of this documentary as the filmmaker. Did you learn anything new about the futures and challengers circuit that you didn’t know before?
JM: My favorite part of this documentary will definitely be the travel and camaraderie with a group of people. I absolutely love tennis, and I love making movies, and this kills two birds with one stone.
What are the challenges in making this documentary?
JM: The main challenge of this documentary right now is trying to find investors and sponsors. Right now, as I mentioned, we’re working on getting a training home for Will, but we’ll definitely need some financing for this movie, for the travel, and the sponsorship for Will. The rest of it will be a piece of cake.