(ABC4) – Jon Heder will forever be known as Napoleon Dynamite after his debut in the cult classic in 2004. Despite his legendary role, Heder was just one-third of the Brigham’s film school trio Young University (BYU) in Utah which brought the cinematic masterpiece to life.

In one interview with BYU magazineHeader, along with Jared Hess, the film’s writer and producer, and his wife Jerusha Hess came together to share the story of “Napoleon Dynamite.”

As reported in BYU magazine, the inspiration for the film’s iconic lead character came from a protagonist in a short film Hess wrote and directed for a screenwriting class. The 9-minute film dubbed “Peluca” featured a teenager carrying a fanny pack named Seth.

Even before he finished his production of “Peluca”, which won him high praise at the 2003 Slamdance Film Festival, Hess began working with his wife to write an unabridged version of the film which he named “Napoleon Dynamite”.

Hess shared his motivation for the film’s title with BYU magazine, saying, “While on my assignment in Chicago, an older Italian man said, ‘Hey church people, I want to talk to you. Why do you have the name Elder?’ And you’re like, ‘Well, that’s a title we’ve had for two years. So what’s your name, sir? And he said, ‘My name is Napoleon Dynamite.’ My mind was blown. Obviously, that wasn’t his real name. But I remember writing on a piece of paper: “The title of the first film must be Napoleon Dynamite”.

With a production team made up almost entirely of BYU students, according to BYU magazine, and a one-time investment of $400,000 from Jeremy Coon, one of Hess’s former film school buddies as well as producer and film editor, “Napoleon Dynamite” was born.

Coon spoke about his choice to invest in the film with BYU magazine, saying, “Jared approached me to edit ‘Peluca’. At the time, we were working together at LDS Motion Picture Studio by BYU, earning around $7 an hour. I remember asking Jared one day at work, “If you only had one picture on a feature film, what would you want to do? And Jared was like, ‘Let’s take this character (from Peluca) and let me build a script around it.’ From there, Coon relied solely on his faith in Hess’s creative process to support his decision.

Film debut Heder spoke of his excitement to partner with Hess, telling BYU magazine, “Jared had already made a name for himself in the BYU film world; he was this promising talent. You wanted to work with him.

In one interview with Rollingstone, Hess explained his inspiration for the film’s concept, saying, “Everything about the film is so autobiographical. I grew up in a family of six boys in Preston, Idaho (where the movie was filmed) and the character of Napoleon was a hybrid of all the cheesier, clumsier parts of me and my brothers growing up.

Hess confessed his idea of ​​the film’s famous dance scene, telling Rolling Stone: “I had heard that Jon was a dancer; he has a twin brother and they used to go out to dance clubs and do these synchronized dance routines. The dynamic of a guy looking like that, dressed like that, and throwing some pretty awesome dance moves is just something that’s still a bit shocking. So I asked Jon to pull up to the end of a dirt road, I turned on the radio in the car and this Jamiroquai song was playing. I just told her to start dancing and I realized: This is how we have to end the movie! You don’t expect that stuff. They are simply part of the creative process.

According to the BYU article, by the time Peluca entered the 2003 Slamdance Film Festival, the script for Napoleon Dynamite had already been completed.

After its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004, Napoleon Dynamite became an overlooked success. As reported in BYU Magazine, the film quickly sold to Fox Searchlight Studios for $4.75 million and grossed over $46 million in its first year of release.

Despite the film’s great success, BYU Magazine highlighted the nation’s mixed feelings about the quirky film. As noted in the article, Netflix viewers have consistently given Napoleon Dynamite one or five stars. The company’s coders remain puzzled about their ability to predict viewers as potential fans or haters.