Dana Nachman actually had no idea about the Batkid story while it was happening. “I was editing something and was in a cave during the entire thing,” recalls Nachman, with a laugh.
Are you in the same boat? If you missed it, on November 15, 2013, one Miles Scott bounced around San Francisco pretending to be a boy version of Batman. It was all part of a plan: It was organized by the Make-A-Wish Foundation to honor the dream of a kid who, at 18 months, was diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukemia. He went into remission, where he remains today, and by the time he was costumed up and riding about in a makeshift Batmobile, the story had gone hyper-viral.
“Batkid Begins” exists to preserve an ephemeral event that gave everyone involved good vibes. And because this is the future it wasn’t too hard for someone who wasn’t even paying attention at the time there to make a doc about it.
“It was actually stunningly easy,” says Nachman. “I had the video that [Make-A-Wish] had commissioned for the fundraising video they were going to do, plus the local news station gave me their video, plus the family had their own video.”
“Batkid Begins” could have been a mushy, sentimental mess, but it mostly tries to capture the fun of the day itself. Even the backstory of Scott’s disease is presented in a comic book animated style. “Once I got over the gut-punch of the beginning, I wanted the rest to be a positive, extraordinary experience,” Nachman tells us. “It was really about the community that rallied around Miles than Miles himself. The goal was to have tears of joy rather than sadness.”
Among those involved with the day itself were Patricia Wilson, Make-A-Wish Foundation’s director, and Mike Jutan, a computer graphics engineer at Lucasfilm who found himself playing the day’s version of The Penguin. For them the rush to get the day going — which involved wrangling together an entire city, plus enormous crowds of well-wishers who descended upon the city — was tiring.
“Afterwards I Googled post-traumatic stress disorder,” says Wilson.
“I had what I called ‘post-traumatic Batkid disorder,” jokes Jutan. “I was so nervous about doing a good job. Once it got so big, our focus was still on Miles. But you did have one eye on five news choppers and the entire news media being there. We were so cautious and concerned about being responsible. Afterwards I must have slept for a month.”