Vo Dilanduhs know R.J. Heim, the veteran Channel 10 meteorologist and news reporter, as a charismatic and engaging fellow but, primarily, as a local weatherman. What few people know is that R.J. has been diligently working for years on film and television projects as a writer/producer/director.
R.J. let me have a peek at What a Pill, a current project that he wrote and directed. It's a comedy and, the 10 minute-or-so excerpt that I saw was not only very funny (in a sweet rather than raucous way), but very well put together. Lighting, sound, camera work, editing . . . R.J. has it all together.
He is seeking financing for the project (he's estimating about $2 million) and tells me that "the investor and press packets are out. I do have some promising leads, but nothing is firm until the signatures are on the dotted line." He continues that he is writing other screenplays "in various genres and subjects," including a sci-fi and a crime drama.
It is thrilling to see someone you know and like with such talent and promise plunging ahead into the unknown and attempting to make a mark for himself. What a Pill is quality creative stuff and R.J. is disciplined and productive. If he can get it into the right hands, look out!
Seeing R.J's film inspired me to resurrect an idea I had many years ago. Impressed by countless viewings of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, I conjured up my own religious fantasy film, tentatively titled The Search for the Holy Foreskin. I see it as potentially the greatest religious epic of them all.
As a Jewish boy, Jesus had been circumsized. Now when he rose up to heaven on the third day, the big question (well, the big question in Pawtucket, where I grew up) was, "What happened to the Holy Foreskin?" Did it end up in a foreskin disposal unit or a standard 2000-year-old trash barrel? Or did it, independent of the rest of Jesus's body, rise up to heaven? People in medieval times didn't think so and it is well-documented that, along with such popular religious relics as slivers of the True Cross, there was a fairly brisk market in Holy Foreskins.
So now, I'm thinking, "Here's a strong mystery premise. We have to come up with some entertainment value as well." When I was growing up, sword and sandal epics featuring Hercules and various sons of Hercules were boffo box office. So why not bring back Gordon Scott and Steve Reeves (remember, this is a few decades back) to play a couple of Hercules-like fellas? They could each have competing claims to the authentic Holy Foreskin and then have to duke it out in a battle royale, replete with well-built hairless male bodies, glistening with sweat and body oil, until a winner emerges to claim the prize.
Obviously, this would require a far higher budget than R.J.'s measly $2 mil but, if necessary, I can scale back my aspirations and shoot the whole thing in Olneyville with a few carnival workers rather than the former Hercules and Son of Hercules. And I have no problem with the actors riding broomsticks with cardboard horse-heads rather than actual animals (also, no clashes with the ASPCA that way).