One little boy’s dream to fight crime as his favorite superhero transformed San Francisco into Gotham City for a day and is now the inspiration for a major motion picture starring and backed by Julia Roberts.
The vision for the upcoming film stemmed from cancer survivor Miles Scott, then five years old, and his wish to fight crime as Batman. Tens of thousands of participants and spectators showed up Nov.15, 2013 as the Make-A-Wish Foundation turned his dream into a reality. The event garnered media attention from major news outlets across the U.S. and around the world.
Director Dana Nachman, who was a journalist for 15 years before putting down the pencil and stepped behind the camera, heard about the story of Batkid after most people. But it was her role as a mother that convinced her to pursue the story.
“I had been working on pretty dark documentaries up until then and I have three little kids and they said, ‘Can’t you do movies that we would like?'” Nachman said. “I thought this was such a great thing. So many people got attached to the story and were interested in the story and I knew my kids would want to participate if I were so lucky to get to do it.”
Unlike other Make-A-Wish Foundation wishes, Miles’ request was one for the record books. The organization traditionally keeps the experiences for children as private and intimate as possible, but for Batkid, the Foundation and San Francisco went all out.
“The mayor’s office really stepped in and set it up where it could be like the Giants won the World Series,” said Jennifer Wilson, the marketing director for Make-A-Wish in the Bay Area. “It was really a sense of people who were out there to enjoy this and to experience it and make it better for Miles.”
Nachman’s documentary film “Batkid: The Wish Heard Across the World” depicts the events that occurred on Miles’ special day, including the Batkid capturing the Riddler in Union Square and arresting the Penguin at AT&T Park. Nachman and her producer, Liza Meak, met with the Make-A-Wish Foundation in December 2013 and finished filming almost a year later.
The documentary premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival Jan. 24, the night after Nachman received the call from Roberts’ production company wanting to showcase the story on a bigger screen.
“I really was concentrating on finishing the film in time so I was pretty shocked when I heard the news that Julia Roberts wanted to produce and star in the movie,” Nachman said. “But it doesn’t really shock me because it’s such a great story. I’m excited to see where it goes.”
Although no date has been confirmed for the start of production, Roberts is set to star and produce a motion film adaption based off the documentary of Scott’s story with her production company Red Om Films, and she has slated Nachman as the executive producer.
“I wasn’t really focused on doing movies like this possible Batkid feature but it could be a very cool direction to go in,” Nachman said. “I think if this one works out well, I could see myself doing more (movies like this.)”
Throughout this experience, Nachman and Meak said they continue to be taken aback by the public’s response to the story and the documentary portrayal of that day.
“(It) was really exciting to hear the news about Julia Roberts’ interest,” Meak said. “I’m thrilled that there are people who found a connection to the documentary we did and we’re honored that people want to make a motion picture. Hopefully people will feel the same way about the movie that they did on that day and about the documentary.”