A boy named Noël on CANAL +: “I thought I was going to make a horror film …

Exclusively on CANAL +, “A Boy Named Christmas” offers a Christmas fairy tale ideal for the holidays. Meet the director Gil Kenan and the actors Stephen Merchant, Michiel Huisman and Henry Lawfull.

AlloCiné: First of all, Gil, how is a director who is known for his horror films and series like Poltergeist Where Scream, find himself directing this charming family film?

Gil Kenan, the director: To tell you the truth, I thought I was going to make a scary horror movie about Christmas and… I ended up with this lovely, family-friendly movie (laughs). For me, to scare, or to tell a fantastic and magical story like this, is the same process. You have to be able to create the perfect emotions in the telling and execution of your story in order to convince the audience to truly believe it.

It is the magic of cinema that transports you to a world where anything is possible. I must admit to you, too, that I have a passion for fairy tales and fantasy tales. I love movies like The Neverending Story and The Golden Horns, a Russian film from the 70s. Without forgetting Beauty and the Beast by Jean Cocteau. For me, this film was an opportunity to pay tribute to all these films.

It’s a very beautiful film about the origins of Santa Claus, but beyond this story, what is the film really about, what are the themes?

Stephen Merchant: First of all I must admit that I was surprised, when I received the script, that no one else had had the idea of ​​making a film that talks about the origins of Father Christmas. It was writer Matt Haig who wrote the book behind this movie who came up with the idea after his son once asked him where Santa “really” came from.

For me, it’s the perfect film for this most incredible end of the year with this enduring pandemic. It’s a lovely film that reminds us how much our family is the most important in our lives, especially during difficult times. The last time I felt this was with the movie Elf with Will Ferrell.

Henry Lawfull: It is a message of hope and optimism. This film suggests that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. That you always have to believe in yourself and never let go. Nikolas goes to the end of his quest despite the difficulties, it is the beauty of his commitment that touches you and inspires you to do the same.

Michiel Huisman: Yes, it’s a film that shows that in order to see, you have to believe. That believing with all your might in something invisible allows you to make it visible. It is because Nikolas really comes to believe in Elfhelm, the magical village of the elfs, that it comes across as a total revelation.

Gil Kenan: I would like to add one more subject, a theme that was in Matt Haig’s book: the power that lies in just telling a story. And in doing so, how it transforms life. This passion for telling a story has, I believe, a magical effect on the course of our lives. You just have to believe it with all your heart and with all your strength.

A boy named noël on canal +: "i thought i was going to make a horror film...
StudioCanal

Henry Lawfull, hero of Gil Kenan’s film.

Stephen, how do you put yourself in the shoes of a mouse?

Stephen Merchant: Miika is a really cute mouse and the digital animation is very realistic. I was the perfect candidate to play Miika because I am such a lovable being, even though people don’t like to invite me into their homes (laughs). I love cheese and feel uncomfortable around cats. So, really, there was no better actor to play this mouse.

In the end, what is the message of this film?

Stephen Merchant: I think it’s a message of hope. It is also an invitation during the Christmas holidays to do good around you and to meet with your loved ones, to remember those you love and to share with them a moment of peace and tranquility in this environment. so hectic world.

What was the biggest challenge to overcome, the biggest “mountain” to conquer?

Gil Kenan: The biggest mountain to conquer was the one we had to climb in Finland in order to be able to shoot this film. It was a hell of an expedition to get everyone to ride in this vertiginous and icy environment. At the top there was even a totally frozen lake. Due to the snow cover we were not able to use a usual system of steady-cam. We had to be creative and find new filming techniques.

A boy named noël on canal +: "i thought i was going to make a horror film...
StudioCanal

The Miika mouse voiced by actor Stephen Merchant.

Is there already the idea of ​​a sequel to this film?

Gil Kenan: It’s funny that you ask me that because I’m already in talks with production and Netflix. In fact, Matt, the writer, has already spawned several other books and therefore there are a lot of other adventures that we can stage for the characters that you are going to experience with A Boy Named Christmas.

Do you believe in Santa Claus and what do you want to receive or what are your wishes for the new year?

Gil Kenan: You cannot make such a film without believing a minimum in it. You have to believe in the magic, in the mystery of Christmas to be able to give birth to a tale like this. You really have to put yourself in that state of mind to get there. From the bottom of my heart I tell you that I believe in the magic of life. Every day I am really amazed at what is happening to me and all the opportunities that are presented to me.

It is with all the conviction to believe in this film that I was able to convince 200 or 300 people to join this adventure and to make the film that you are going to see. Now, my wish for these holidays is that life becomes a little more normal with a little more peace on Earth and in hearts. And, of course, I hope a lot of people will watch and like our movie. We have put all our passion, all our magic into it.

Interview by Emmanuel Itier, in Los Angeles.

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