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A List Hollywood Talent lends itself to Indie Film: “Catching Kringle”

Welcome to the unique world of animation. On the film festival circuit, short animation films tend to stand out amongst the live-action shorts, because there are less of them. But what makes an animation flick stand out amongst all the others? There’s the 3d-animation, which if done in a professional manner, seems to catch all the attention, like Chris Landreth’s film, “Ryan” (2005 Academy Award winner). With 2d animation, even if the artists execute the visuals well, there still lies the challenge of the film garnering additional attention, maybe even a festival award.

Determined and energetic filmmakers, Adam Himoff and Andrea Stern (Jellyman Productions) and director Jeff Wadlow (story) in conjunction with Doug Burnaford (story) created their 2004 release of “Catching Kringle.” Touring the festival circuit well into 2005, this 2d-animated gem tells the story of Santa Claus and his elves with a twist. Actors, Danny Devito (General Norman Needham) and John Rhys-Davies of “The Lord of the Rings’” Gimli fame, are the voice talent. Larry King provides comedic entertainment by playing himself. Securing the talent of these famous, professional actors, alone, sets this film apart from other festival favorites.

Through a professional contact with Rhys-Davies, Stern tried her luck and passion and went for the big question. The Welsh actor agreed to participate in the independent film project and recorded his voice for the role of Santa Claus. By this time, an animation production team, ANIMAX (Los Angles based), agreed to do the project within a typical independent budget. This filmmaking team provides a prime example of how to efficiently follow the steps when constructing an indie film’s pre-production pipeline. With a secured production team, the Hollywood actors take Himoff and Stern seriously. They have a project that is more likely to see completion.

With original character designs for the General based on Danny Devito, the production team could only dream of actually getting him to play the role, or could they? Through diligent phone calls to DeVito’s production company, Jersey Films, they finally arrived at a response. And it was more than positive. Why did DeVito take this role from relatively unknown filmmakers? Stern replies, “Honestly, I’m not sure. But people who have achieved success typically got there with a lot of help. I think Danny saw this as an opportunity to pay it forward. Plus, it didn’t hurt to have everything else in place before we approached him.” (Courtesy of press release).

This “Catching Kringle” film could easily make it to network television. The voice talent compliments the script and artistic quality. The creative story of Santa being forced to turn his elfin crew into a paramilitary unit jut to get the gifts under the tree is due to suburban America’s home-security obsessed atmosphere (synopsis courtesy of “Catching Kringle”). After reaching such festivals as Filmfest New Haven (best short animated film), Worldfest Houston (best cg/animated short), DIY Hollywood Film Festival (best animated film), and Beverly Hills Film Festival, amongst others the film has garnered over 7 awards and continues to provide for a springboard for future projects.

Producers Adam Himoff and Andrea Stern intend to develop “Kringle” into a feature length film, either as a 3D animated or live-action piece. Writer, Jeff Wadlow, will release his first feature, “Cry Wolf,” this fall through Universal and Focus Films. When addressing future filmmakers, Himoff advises, “Don’t be afraid to ask for anything- you may just get it.”
By Michelle Paster


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