Editor's note: The following press release does not represent an LDS Living endorsement of the film. Parents are advised to use their own discretion based on what they deem appropriate for their children to watch.
Writer, director, and producer Spanky Dustin Ward, in partnership with Covenant Communications and Excel Entertainment, recently announced a new film, The Santa Box. The movie will open in local Utah Megaplex Theatres on Friday, November 6, 2020. Covenant Communications served as the production company with Ron Brough as executive producer, and Excel Entertainment is distributing the film in theaters.
Ward had been working on the idea and screenplay for the film over the past couple of years, but it was earlier this summer that the actual production shifted into high gear. “We shot the film in early August at several locations along the Wasatch Front,” said Ward. “And that was after only about three weeks of pre-production time, including casting and rehearsals! But everything fell perfectly into place to get The Santa Box produced in time to release it for this holiday season.”
The Santa Box tells the story of teenager Kallie Watts. For the past five years, Christmas has spelled disaster for her and her family. When a fire leaves Kallie and her mother homeless just before the holidays, there’s only one conclusion: Kallie is cursed by Christmas. When Kallie and her mother relocate to a small California town, Kallie is confronted by her worst nightmare come true: a town overflowing with holiday decorations and Christmas cheer. But Kallie’s life will soon change forever by the gift of a Santa box, which helps her rediscover the magic and true meaning of Christmas.
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The Santa Box features primarily local talent, including Shawn Stevens (Otto), and newcomer Cami Carver (Kallie). “Playing Otto was something completely new for me, but it was a role I wanted so much,” said Stevens. “The Otto character is an 85-year-old German immigrant, and naturally, Spanky originally wanted to cast an actor who was around that age. But, luckily for me, with the help of an amazing makeup artist, Vanae Morris, I was able to convince Spanky that I could pull off a great performance of an old German man. And the character was an absolute joy to play.”
Ward also spoke about the auditioning process when they discovered Cami for the lead role.
“For the role of Kallie, we auditioned dozens of young actresses and Cami originally auditioned for a different role, but she absolutely knocked our socks off!” proclaimed Ward. “We instantly knew she was our Kallie.”
In addition to the two leads, The Santa Box features 20-plus major characters and dozens of extras. “Filming during this crazy time brought some unique challenges, but we acclimated to it very quickly,” said Ward. “Everyone on the production team strictly adhered to safe production guidelines implemented by the health officers we had on set. Thanks to those practices, everyone in the cast and crew stayed healthy and the production went off without a hitch.”
For more information on The Santa Box, visit its IMDb page.