Your new movie Jacob
the Baker - in a few words, what is it about?
A young, skeptical reporter is sent to interview the author of a bestselling
book series and discovers the incredible story of an author whose
inspiring fictional character, Jacob, provides help and hope to countless
people around the world. During the interview, the reporter’s own secret
struggles emerge, making her pause and consider the real possibility of
Jacob's help and hope for her own life.
we continue talking about the movie, could you provide us with a little
bit of background about the actual Jacob the Baker character, his
fictional origins, and what inspired you to create him back when? And was
he always supposed to be a recurring character in your writings or did
this just happen eventually? And how much of yourself do you see in Jacob,
years ago I was commissioned by a small publisher to write a book about a
character whose life in many ways resembled my own. I wrote the book, at a
very busy time in my life, over two years from 4am-6am. When
the book was finished and passed around for a read, several major
publishers came into play and cross-bid on the book, with Random House
becoming the publisher of the book both in hardback and Ballantine in
paperback. Jacob the Baker was almost immediately a national and international
bestseller. There are now, over the forty years, 4 Jacob
the Baker books in the series. Like Jacob, I have gotten
older. Across time, I have been repeatedly asked if Jacob and I are the
same character. And my reply is as true today as it was when I first
proffered it, “in many ways Jacob and I are the same person, but I’m
the one with character flaws.” In our film, when I am asked if this is
me being humble, I reply, “This is me being honest.” But this is also
an add honesty. Being in Jacob’s company so completely across time has
made me a better man. And for this, I am profoundly grateful. With much
work still ahead for me.
Even if it sounds like a silly question, are
you actually into baking yourself, and how has this craft informed Jacob
I came to Santa Barbara in 1975 as a Fellow at a renown long range think
tank, but with the passing of the dynamic leader, I decided to leap into
my love of cooking, and I with my wife and another couple opened a bread company
in 1989. I thought it would be fun, but I was wrong; it was a success. And
I wrote Jacob in the midst of a skyrocketing bread business that had us
selling product across North America. I was the president and later chairman and after 15 plus years, sold the bakery to a public company. I
wrote 3 of the Jacob the Baker books while this was also happening and my
children were young. Clearly, having an insight into a baker’s life was
not a leap of imagination for me. And bonded me with a baker named Jacob.
When did you realize that Jacob is more
than just a character on paper, and where did the idea to "take him
on the road" stem from?
was never a character on paper. He was always, and is always, within me.
And with Jacob’s national and international success, it was less me
taking Jacob on the road and more his taking me. To heaven.
Can you still remember your
first time on stage doing a Jacob-show, and what did that feel like?
I had been asked to step into the Jacob character as an unscripted one man
show many times across time, I have only done this once. And the footage
from that first time was a catalyst for the film.
what did eventually spark the idea to turn the Jacob the Baker-phenomenon
into a movie, and who kicked the project off, actually?
I was approached often by many to turn Jacob the Baker into a film, but I
have always also seen myself as Jacob’s guardian. And it was me who woke
up at 3am almost 4 years ago and decided I was going to take
responsibility and produce the film. I raised the funds, brought
in by my good fortune the best of producers, and absolutely was blessed to
engage in talent and caring the very best creative team. The very best.
Gev, Wendy, Sharon, Summer, Omer and Eden…are a blessing.
What were your sources of inspiration when writing Jacob
the Baker, and how much of it is based on actual experiences?
over 50 years, I have by calling and effort been titled a poet,
philosopher, theologian and scholar. And more or less, I am guilty as
What can you tell us about your collaboration with your co-writers Wendy Kout
and Gev Miron [Gev Miron interview -
When I was 23, I was an Assistant Dean of Students at UCLA and Wendy Kout was a
student in a class I taught. She wanted to be a writer. And simply put, she became
that in so many ways, and in every way, she is flatly amazing in her
talent and in her being. Wendy introduced me to Gev. And in that
introduction I was blessed. Blessed to know him, and blessed by his flat
out magic imagination and talent as a writer, but in no less and perhaps
even more in his talent as our director and editor.
What were the challenges of making Jacob
the Baker from a producer's point of view?
If I had known more about what it meant or would take to be a producer, I
never could have done it.
You basically play yourself in Jacob
the Baker - now how did that feel, and how closely is the Noah
Benshea in the movie based on the real Noah Benshea?
of the footage of my time on stage speaking to the audience was scripted.
That was extemporaneously me in Jacob. And while much of my dialogue in
the film was brilliantly scripted, much was not. In the back and forth
with the reporter, she was never sure what I was going to say, which only
made her acting all the more amazing. After one very emotional reply
thinking back on my parents, I grew very teary, and when we finished, Gev
said, “That was great. Now let’s do it from another angle.” I told
him, “No.” “Why?” he asked, and I said, “Because if I do it
again, it will be acting.” After that Gev always had two cameras on me
so the added angles he needed didn’t need me to “act.” Honesty is
truth in Jacob
the Baker. And the audience can smell the truth in our
can you tell us about the rest of Jacob
the Baker's key cast, and as a producer, how much of a say did you
have or demand in the casting process?
the producer of Jacob
the Baker, I always had the producer’s say in our
film. But because of my faith and trust and respect for my crew, I was
always fortunate when I was wise enough to also listen. And I was often
times taken to a better place than only my opinion.
Do talk about the
shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere!
line, bottom line, early on in my internal communication, my emails were
to Team Jacob. Team Jacob was and is the atmosphere.
can tell us about audience and critical reception of Jacob
have been deeply blessed to have been represented by CAA and Roeg
Sutherland, Christine Hsu, and Megan Crawford who were and are key allies
and deeply believe in Jacob
the Baker. And when CAA held a private
screening for approximately 160 major figures in the entertainment world.
Mark Johnson, Academy Award producer of Rainman and multiple
Emmy awarded producer of Breaking Bad, Better Call
Saul, who was brought in by our
wonderful key executive producer Steven Rales, Indian
Paintbrush, has been
an ally and kindly introduced our film, and after the film he said that he
had been to many screenings and had NEVER seen industry people so
emotionally absorbed, not talking, not on their phones, just so struck by
what they were watching. After our premiere at the famed Saban Theatre for
900 people, people grabbed me and said thanks, from their heart, from
their heart. Jacob
the Baker touches lives. Lifts lives.
As far as I know, Jacob
the Baker was your first excursion into the filmworld - so could
you at all imagine to ever again embark on another cinematic adventure ...
and/or any future projects you'd like to share?
And yes. I have a very clear vision of next. The amazing in life is often
the portal to the more amazing. Yes, the more amazing is in Noah and Jacob
waiting. See you at the movies.
describe yourself as a writer!
my son was young, and someone asked him what his father did, he answered,
“My father types.” I am still typing. I leave the titles to you.
whoever else who inspire you?
of the above, and the reason I chose a simple unassuming baker as my role
model is because there are many “Jacobs” we each pass each day paying
no attention to the truly amazing living among us, unobserved.
Your favourite movies?
... and of course, films you really deplore?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results?
The links below
will take you
Let’s just leave it that I love and have been inspired by movies and like with
people and choose not to explicitly deplore.
Your/your movie's website, social media, whatever else?
not a world I can speak to with authority.
else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
you for the kind insight in you, by this question. Here is my reply: We
live in a world where too many think too little about too many. And Jacob
the Baker is an attempt to speak to the despair and lift the despair
harbored in each of us. Jacob says, “Of all the things you can make in
life, why not make a difference.” Like Jacob, I’m trying. And I’m
blessed to have this work in this life.
for the interview!