Jared Hess brings the laughs with a search for Biblical artifacts in new film Don Verdean.
The new movie by Jared Hess titled Don Verdean will be opening in the United States on December 11. The film was written by both Jared Hess and his wife/co-writer, Jerusha Hess, who are well-known as followers of the Mormon faith.
Utah-based director and filmmaker, Hess, says that Don Verdean is a religious comedy based around the concept of faith. Hess claims that he became “fascinated with a group of people whose faith required more solid evidence.”
According to Hess, one of his producer buddies, a gentleman by the name of Jason Harfield, turned him onto a world of what Hess to as “pseudo-biblical archaeology.” He describes these people as not having any legitimate archaeological credentials, but nevertheless, they take up the bible, and they attempt to go out and “discover” things that support their own Biblical beliefs.
Hess says that every couple of years or so, the news will have a group of like “Chinese Christian amateur archaeologists who claim they have found Noah’s Ark, and then it actually turns out to be something like the cabin of some forest ranger that was all covered in some kind of avalanche (or something along those lines) and then the these so-called “archaeologists” are like “Dang it!”
Hess feels that this type of “absurdity” (as he describes it), seemed to be a “place so ripe for comedy.” He claims that this is where he found the “funny” idea for his new upcoming film,Don Verdean.
The role of “Don” is being played by actor Sam Rockwell. He plays a biblical archaeologist who ends up being hired by an evangelical pastor, played by actor Danny McBride. “Don” is hired by the pastor to find artifacts to support the Bible in order to increase the faith of his followers and get more church members in his pews. “Don” and his Israeli fixer, “Boaz” (played by actor Jemaine Clement) supposedly have a lead on the location of the skull of Goliath (a giant from a story in the Bible). The skull is said to still have David’s stone still embedded within it. Their search, however, comes up empty and when this happens, Don and Boaz end up resorting to fraud.
Hess says that he fell in love with the idea of man who is actually a devout Christian, and has actually found things over the years that he feels truly supports the narratives written in the Bible, in order to increase the faith levels of his people, but yet, ends up getting tangled up in a huge hoax.
The movie was shot in southern Utah which Hess feels made a pretty good “substitute for the Holy Land.”