Zach Reflects on the Genesis of Elijah
by Zachary Herrmann
There are not many things I can think of that began life on a stretch of highway between Harrisburg and Philadelphia. I had a friend whose mother gave birth in the back of a Jeep Grand Cherokee. But actually, now that I think about it, that may have been in New Jersey.
When my brother Jesse and I came up with the idea for Elijah the Prophet, there were less bodily fluids involved. Unless you want to count creative juices (ha!). It definitely happened on that quiet stretch of highway though, heading back from our family Seder in Harrisburg.
The Cliff Notes blow-by-blow of Jewish history doesn’t exactly read for chuckles. Maybe that’s why humor (albeit guilt-ridden and self-deprecating) seems so essential to me as a part of a “Jewish” cultural identity. Granted I’m not an overtly religious person, but the tradition part is pretty entrenched in my life. So many of my best memories come from family get-togethers, specifically, those tied to Passover. As Prince once said, “There is joy in repetition, there is joy in repetition, there is joy in repetition”.
What I’m trying (and failing) to convey here as a writer who always wanted to write something
b) on the nature of family
it’s a bit surprising I never looked to Passover for inspiration. Thank Jesse for that. If we’re keeping score (brothers always do), I’m fairly certain Elijah was Jesse’s idea first.
But, since we have now established we are in fact keeping score (brothers always do), I was the one who sent the script off to the Canadian Screenplay Competition. And promptly forgot I did so. And accidentally ignored the first email telling us we were finalists*. But then got the threatening last notice.
With James’s and David’s involvement, coming in the wake of our CSSC win (natch), Elijah has new life. Hearing both of them talk about the script, I realize Jesse and I may have hit on a lot more than I thought we could in a brief, irreverent piece — family, faith, loss of innocence. This from a short script that started as a joke after a few too many ceremonial glasses of wine.
I have said to James many times in the past, that “my fake ideas are infinitely better than my real ones”. Now that we have blurred the line by raising $21,000 for an idea we might have casually discarded as a funny piece of dinner conversation, I don’t know what to think.
Except that, maybe I should go with my gut instinct: I blame Jesse.
* To be fair, if I have learned nothing from a lifetime of computer viruses and spam, it’s that an email titled “Congratulations!” is junk mail. This happened to be the exception proving the rule.