With the holiday season beginning in earnest, the filmmakers behind “Elijah the Prophet” would like you to remember two things as they raise money on Kickstarter: One, ‘tis the season of giving and two, Passover needs to raise the profile of its main ambassador.
Although Hollywood currently has dueling Judah Maccabee projects in the works, Jewish holidays have seemingly fallen behind in promoting their heroes in the way such celebrations as Christmas and Easter have Santa and the Easter Bunny, respectively, to spread good cheer. But director James Cooper and fraternal writing duo Zachary and Jesse Herrmann are aiming to change all that with a live-action short film that imagines Elijah as a house-hopper on the high holy days who sips the cheap Manischewitz provided to him as if it was Kris Kringle’s traditional milk and cookies and runs into trouble quite literally when his Honda sedan is pulled over by the local police as he’s trying to visit every Jewish household the world over.
“Playfully blasphemous was our intended tone for the piece,” said Zachary Herrmann, who with his brother Jesse hatched the story — where else? His family’s Passover seder in Pennsylvania. The two had taken notice of the tradition where a glass of red wine is left on every seder table for the prophet and the younger children are obligated to open the door to the home to welcome him in. While the kids were away, a few members of the Hermann household made the wine disappear, so the children believed Elijah had stopped by. Inspired by the wonder of what would happen if Elijah had actually made the trip to their house, as well as the requisite buzz from drinking up the glasses intended for their guest, the brothers began to put pen to paper.
“I worried from the outset that what we were doing might be a bit gimmicky for my taste,” said Herrmann. “I think we did our best to imbue Elijah with some real qualities. He's charming, but ultimately pathetic, as any alcoholic man-child-quasi-deity should be.”
Although one should expect plenty of laughs from “Elijah the Prophet,” Herrmann says, “We take our humor very seriously.” That has been backed up considerably since “Elijah” picked up a prize from the Canadian Short Screenplay Competition this past May and has already lined up an impressive group of collaborators to bring it to life.
Herrmann and Cooper have known each other since first interning together at the American Pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008 and after winning the screenplay competition, they were joined on the project by producer David Cormican, who in turn has enlisted top-flight Canadian talent to come aboard. Littered with Genie and Gemini nominees both in front of the camera such as the film’s lead Brian Markinson (“Caprica”) and behind it with cinematographer Alwyn Kumst, “Elijah” is set to begin filming in March of next year should it reach its goal on Kickstarter before November 26th. Needless to say, it's a project that shouldn't be passed over.