Copyright: Nano Skald
“Ok Nano, just leave the pitch to me. I know how these things work, dude. You need to grab him by the balls and get his attention straight away or you’ve no chance. I’ll call on you for any detailed stuff, but leave the hard sell to me.”
I was sitting nervously in the waiting room of the offices of Karl Weinberger, creative director for Sony Pictures with film producer, Jake Hellman. Basically, Weinberger is the guy who decides which films get made. I couldn’t believe my luck – my screenplay had been picked up by a Hollywood producer and was being pitched to a movie executive. And I’d been flown over to Los Angeles for the pitch. I had to pinch myself to remind me this was really happening.
“Mr Weinberger will see you now gentleman, if you’d like to go through,” his secretary announced.
“Come in Jake. It’s good to see you again. How’s it going, dude.”
“Hey, great to see you Karl. I tell you, you’re gonna love this pitch. This project is awesome. It’s the next great movie franchise and I tell you it’s gonna be big. I’m so committed to making this movie I’ve brought the script writer over from ‘Ingerland’ to help me with the pitch. Let me introduce you to Nano Skald.”
I reached my hand out and shook Weinberger’s nervously.
“Oh, hello, very nice to meet you, Mr Weinberger,” I said.
“Ok Jake, as you know, I’m a busy man, so what have you got for me?”
“Get this Karl; Jesus Christ – Dragon Master!”
“Woa, wait a minute dude. Are you telling me there’s dragons in the Bible? How come I don’t know about this?”
“I sure am. And I tell you this is gonna make a kick-ass movie. I’ll let Nano here explain. Go ahead, dude.”
“Well, indeed, yes in a sense there are. You’ll have heard of how Mary and Joseph fled with Jesus to escape from Herod’s men who’d been ordered to kill all male children in Bethlehem. Well, on their flight from Egypt, Jesus and his family went to hide in a cave. Just listen to what happened next.
And, lo, suddenly there came forth from the cave many dragons; and when the children saw them, they cried out in great terror. Then Jesus went down from the bosom of his mother, and stood on His feet before the dragons; and they adored Jesus, and thereafter retired.”
“Hey, this is cool. You telling me Jesus tamed dragons! Woa, that’s awesome stuff,” exclaimed Weinberger.
“That quote comes from the uncensored version of the Gospel of St Matthew,” I explained, “You see there were thousands of stories about Jesus before the Bible was moulded into its present form, which was done hundreds of years after his death and formalised by Emperor Constantine when he had fifty Bibles published in the years after the Council of Nicea in 323. Now although there’s some…”
Jake interjected, “Hey Nano, we don’t need to hear all this historical stuff, man. Mr Weinberger’s a busy man, just stick to the pitch, dude.”
“Ok, I’ll keep it simple. Some stories got chosen for the final version of the Bible, others were rejected. So, to use a movie analogy, this story is from the director’s cut of the gospel of St Matthew. So, yes, it’s true, there are dragons in the Gospels and Jesus was a dragon tamer.”
“Oh, alright, so this story is like an out-take from the Bible?”
“Yes, that’s it exactly. it’s a deleted scene that ended up on the cutting room floor.”
“And all this stuff about the dragons is in the screenplay?” asked Weinberger.
“Yes, the script runs with the idea of what might have happened if Jesus had actually used his dragon taming powers during his life.”
Jake intervened to continue the pitch, “Believe me Karl, this will be HUGE. What you have here is a franchise that combines the Lord of the Rings, the Da Vinci Code and the Avengers. You turn Jesus into the most kick-ass super-hero in movie history, who takes out his enemies with his army of dragons. And he faces the greatest super-villain of all time, more evil than Darth Vadar and Sauron combined; the Dark Lord, Satan himself. It’s got everything.”
“It’s got potential for a trilogy,” I added, “At the end of the first movie Jesus defeats Satan but doesn’t kill him outright. So, in the second movie Satan comes back even stronger.”
“Oh my god, like The Empire Strikes Back. This gets even better.”
“Yes, at the end of the second movie, you leave Jesus crucified on the cross at his lowest point. But in the third movie, he’s resurrected and comes back to lead his dragon army in the apocalypse, the final show down with Satan. There’s the angels of heaven, 144,000 of all the tribes of Israel and the four horsemen of the apocalypse with breastplates of fire!”
“God, the special effects guys are gonna love this.”
Jake explained, “In fact, we’ve even got a title for the third movie. Jesus Christ Dragon Master: Apocalypse – The Final Reckoning.”
“Oh, I love it. I love it! There’s just one thing that bothers me. The story really needs some love interest for Jesus.”
“Don’t worry we’ve got it covered, dude. You explain, Nano.”
“Yes, of course, we have Mary Magadalene as the love interest.”
“And I tell you Karl, this Nano dude has written some really hot sex scenes.”
“I’ve got one more reservation about this, man. I mean I have to think about the studio here. I’m worried we might offend some Christians here.”
“Hey dude, you’ve already offended the supreme leader of the Communist Republic of North Korea, I mean, how much worse can this be? Besides, this is about freedom of speech, right. Freedom of speech – you simply have to make this movie man.”
I add, “Besides this will be great for Jesus’s image. It will reinvent him for a 21st century audience. Jesus Christ, dragon master and super-hero. The church will love it; they’ll get a whole new audience of spotty teenage nerds. They’ll get to convert all those millions of Game of Thrones fans!”
“Yeah, that’s true, you’re absolutely right guys. Had you thought of actors for the main characters?” asked Weinberger.
“If we could get Chris Hemsworth as Jesus that would be cool. I mean, he would be perfect – those good looks and rippling muscles. It would beef up Jesus’s image. And hell, if he can do Thor, then why not Jesus?”
“Oh dude, yeah, I can see it now. Hey, I’ve just had an inspired idea. Angelina Jolie as Jesus’s mother!”
“She’s been Alexander’s mother.”
“And Grendel’s mother in Beowulf,” I added.
“It’s the perfect role for her!”
“Any ideas for director, Karl.”
“Well, of course Peter Jackson does an awesome dragon.”
“I was thinking maybe Michael Bay. Just think of the explosions man! The Philistines – poof, taken out with one blast of dragon breath; the Cannanites – zap, reduced to ashes with one blast of fire; the Ephraimites – kablam, burnt to a sizzle by Jesus’s dragon army. And there are a whole lot of tribes in the Bible, man – that’s a helluva lot of explosions.”
“Ok guys, I’m convinced. I’m so excited by this. Let’s get out there and make this movie!”
So, after three years, a few re-writes, several billion dollars and a film launch later and here I was back in LA yet again, this time for the Oscar ceremonies no less.
Jake met me at the airport.
“Hey, Nano dude, great to see you again. We’re up for nine Oscars man, how awesome is that? How’s the script for the sequel coming along?”
“Yeah, great Jake dude. It’s cool, man.”
In the intervening years I’ve learnt to speak Hollywood, you see.
“Hey, I’ve got you the in the best seats of the house tonight – right next to Angelina Jolie!”
“Wow, no kidding.”
So, there I was in the Greek Theatre in Hollywood, sat next to Angelina Jolie.
“Hey, great to see you again Angie. Fabulous performance in the movie. I mean, the mother of Jesus – you have to be a shoe in for best supporting actress. Hi Brad, how’s it going, man? How are the kiddies? Oh, speak to you later; this is my gig coming up.”
“Hey, good luck, Nano,” said Angelina.
Aaw, that Angelina, she’s such a sweetie.
“We welcome Academy Award winner, Meryl Streep, to present the award for best adapted screenplay.”
“This is the moment when the Academy recognizes the crucial role played by screen writers. These are the people, who toil away (for a mere pittance compared to an A-list celebrity like me), to craft the words that allow Hollywood to weave its magic.
These are the people who take the books you love and cherish and turn them into utter Hollywood shite (does it really say that, I’m only reading the card!)… And the award for best adapted movie script goes to…”
There’s a moment’s hesitation and tension as the envelope is opened. I’m on the edge of my seat.
“…Nano Skald for Jesus Christ – Dragon Master.”