On November 15, 2013, San Francisco was transformed into Gotham City for a day, all to make the wish of Miles Scott, the five year-old cancer survivor who wanted to become Batkid, Batman's newest -- and perhaps best known -- sidekick. The Make-A-Wish event was nothing short of a phenomenon on social media, even generating a congratulatory video from President Barack Obama for Mile's help in saving the city.
From his heroic deeds came an outpouring of support, and documentary filmmaker Dana Nachman set her sights on the story as her next project. Released in June of this year, "Batkid Begins" chronicles the day Miles truly became a super hero, but also looks into just how this incredible event came together behind the scenes. At New York Comic Con, Nachman visited the CBR Tiki Room to speak with Albert Ching about the film, what attracted her to the story, and why Batman speaks to the hero in all of us.
In the first part of her discussion with CBR TV, Dana Nachman discusses what went into making the "Batman Begins" documentary and whether it was difficult to start the project after Miles Scott's big day. She also talks about what Miles' story meant to her and why it became so big on social media.
On sharing this story with the world via a documentary:
Dana Nachman It was so much fun. My work before "Batkid [Begins]" was very, very dark and depressing work. [Laughs] Child molestation, responses to terrorism, chemicals that are in all of our products that are hurting us. They're important, and I was really proud of them, but when you're making work about such difficult topics it kind of grates on you. You work on these projects for years, so I was looking for something lighter. I was looking for something that my kids would like and could maybe even be part of and help me shoot, and help me pick music and graphics. Batkid happened, and I got to be like the luckiest person in the world to be the one who was able to tell it. And it was such a joy to work on.
After you're done working on these films, which you work on anywhere from a year to three years, then you have to go out and talk about the films like this, and it's so much just to talk about it all the time and go back to the day I think just captured so many people's hearts. The documentary goes into really I think why that is and how they made such a viral event, and how they captured the hearts of so many people.
2:55 - On what it was like taking on the project after the the events happened:
On the effect Batkid's story had on her as a person and a filmmaker:
As a person I really related to the the story. I mean the story that I think people saw on Facebook and Twitter, which is such a small, you know 140 characters was the story of a boy who had this really cool wish. I mean, could have wished for anything. He could have wished for a shopping spree, or could have wished for Disneyland -- which are also great wishes -- but he wanted to be Batman. And how many people in the world want to be a superhero at one point in time or another, especially children. So I think his wish was awesome, and he was sick and he had overcome this amazing sickness, so on paper, in the short version, it was a very good story and that's why everybody was so taken by it. But I think what really the crux of the story, what I learned from doing the documentary, was there was this group of people who decided to make this really be about a kid becoming the real Batman. It wasn't just, "Let's just make it cute and make it like a party. Let's really do everything we can to geek out and make it Batman."
So one of the things was E.J. [Eric Johnston], the guy who played the big Batman that escorted him around, he was gonna show videos of the police commissioner saying, "We need your help, Batkid!" They were gonna show it on an iPad, but he said, "Any adult would be on an iPad. Batman wouldn't be on an iPad. Batman would invent a projector that he would shoot the message from his wrist," and so he went and invented this thing that in the broad daylight he would project at a good rate these videos. That's just one example of the lengths that they went to. They didn't just buy the best Batman costume online for $300, they had the San Francisco Opera come in and make it detailed, worthy of the San Francisco Opera. So they just took it to these great lengths, and I think it's about -- and I as a person really relate to trying to make something just the best you can possibly make it. I think a lot of us would feel that way. So I think as a person I appreciated what the people did to make that happen, and the childlike creativity that they used to make that happen. I think it was just an amazing story beyond just the social media level.
In the second half of her conversation with CBR TV, Nachman weighs in on the appeal of Batman and why the character contributed to Mile's story becoming a phenomenon. She also weighs in on the planned movie version based on the documentary starring Julia Roberts and what she plans to do next.
On what this story says about the appeal of Batman:
First of all, wanting to be a hero -- everybody can relate to that. We're just not all given the opportunity, but I think we could if we wanted to be, all given the opportunities. I think Miles was given a very specific -- and that was the only thing he wanted, which is amazing. Such a cool thing. And then I think the fact that he wanted to be Batman, knowing him like I do now, he just fits the bill for Batman in general.
Something that was interesting was I read something online about somebody said, "Oh, the kid didn't even look happy that day." I thought about it after knowing Miles and after looking at all the pictures that are out there, he was thrilled -- first of all, this is his dream come true, I know that. But he was playing the role of Batman, and when do you ever see Batman like with a stupid grin on his face. Batman is being Batman. And so I think Miles very much embodies the spirit of Batman in that he's very serious, he wants to help people all the time. And he'll do it in a very matter of fact way; he's everyman's man, or everyboy's boy. He really is like that, and so I think part of the reason it went viral is because everybody would have wanted to do that when they were little. Pick your super hero -- it didn't have to be Batman -- you wanted to be So-and-So Kid, and he got a chance to do that.
On the fictionalized feature film being made based on the documentary:
Warner Bros. and New Line optioned the right to make a fiction film out of ["Batkid Begins"], and that's very flattering. Julia Roberts had watched the documentary and wanted to come on as one of the characters, as the head of Make-A-Wish, who basically this whole thing was her brainchild. So that was really flattering. It's very exciting to see what -- I think documentaries are amazing and I'm really proud of the documentary, and to make it even that much more surreal -- I mean, it's a pretty surreal thing in real life -- for them to make it into a fiction film is amazing.