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Eric Cooper from Malibu, California, is a late entrant to the movie business. Having had one career as a seller of baseball cards, he has now turned to script-writing. His first feature script has not yet been picked up but he used his talents to make a short: Jesus 2000. That witty, satirical movie won the professional section of the Cotswold International Film & Video Festival against stiff competition.
The film satirises American television news showing how it might cover the story of Christs last days if they had taken place this year ... and He were a presidential candidate! It is not at all blasphemous. Its jibes are squarely aimed at journalists, politicians and those who try to use the news to their own advantage. What might seem at first like a five-minute joke builds into a funnier and funnier 25 minute movie as more spin is introduced and more unlikely characters jump on the media bandwaggon.
It just poured out of me over a three day period. I was writing on the beach: three hours the first day, three hours the second day, five hours the third day. I only added two scenes after that. But what did change was the budget.
I thought I had a movie that I was going to be able to make over a weekend for about $3,000. When we got to casting it, I realised it would have to be about $35,000. It ended up being about $100,000.
It was a labour of love. What cost more was when we got to processing and post-production. Film-to-tape transfer, colour correction, a good editing bay all along the line I had the option to make it cheaper. But when you get involved with something you say, Well, Id better do it the right way.
"We went to an editing bay to do the telecine and to colour correct, and online the final edit etc. In Hollywood then price at the time was $150 -650 per hour. I was told basically you get what you pay for. So, we went with a top notch place with knowledgeable staff and first rate equipment. Then, based on the fact they liked our project, and I was willing to work in the middle of the night and around their schedule (I got bumped to another bay from time to time by the Dr. Dolittle movie that had first priority, Star Trek Next Generation, and by other rush projects.) So, I got their $625 rate down to $275 an hour. It still added up to I think $18,000 to $20,000.
Its like a racehorse. You think once youve bought it youre done. But you have to feed it and train it and whatever ... Its the same with a film. Youve got to make copies of it. Youve got to back those up. Youve got to come to the Cotswolds !
Its a never-ending process, but its a fun one. I think Im going to go in the writing direction now.
We made the actors wear outrageously bright clothing at the start when people were "happy and enthusiastic about Jesus," The clothing will go darker and darker until everyone is wearing black at the end.
At the parade scene the reporter says something like "Jesus who is cast in a hero's spotlight, make his first appearance without him, just a stones throw away...Since." It's cut on the word "since," Well, if you rearrange some of the words it's "Him who is without sins (since) cast the first stone."
The character Prof. Dottie Godaxis Knotfoundden University was " Proof that a God exists not found in a University" Although, the joke is on me as many universities have loved Jesus 2000.
The characters Omar Paragon reports as Jesus is crucified. Dropping the "O" is Mar - defined as: to try and make imperfect and Paragon- defined as: the model of perfection. That was sort of the underlying commentary of what was man's role to try in vain to mar perfection.
Eric was a popular visitor to the festival, enthusing about all the work there - amateur, student and professional. He made contacts with several other film makers from different nations.
Jesus 2000 is not yet available in the UK. Eric is in negotiations with distributors in the US and elsewhere. All of us lucky enough to see it at the Cotswold Festival will be eager to enjoy it again and urge you to catch it if you can.