2020 has been a bit of a rubbish year for most of us! One of the final days we spent working as a full team was at the Manchester Wedding show at Manchester Central in March. Since then we have been working a dramatically reduced schedule and although we have had commercial work to shoot, we have also had a lot of excess time on our hands.
It was during this spare time that lead me to the back room of our studio. This is a space we use to store equipment, archives, tools and props. From rocking horses & blow up frogs for family shoots, through to old cameras and brand new cine cameras waiting to tackle the 200 weddings that they were purchased for!
In the back of this room on the highest shelf there was a box of video tapes and on those tapes was a project that I had shot when I was 17 years old and a student.
I studied at Knowsley Community College before going onto Liverpool John Moores University. Whilst at Knowsley Community College, my passion for film making was ignited by the incredible lectures there. Unlike my time at University, we were encouraged to pursue our passions and jump feet first into the industry we all so desperately wanted to be a part of.
Over the summer holidays, I planned to begin filming a documentary about a man called Stan Fullerton who lives on Kremlin Drive in Liverpool. Stan transforms his home into a grotto every year and he was somewhat of a celebrity in the city, as everyone I knew visited the grotto on a yearly basis.
The plan was to film Stan and his Christmas journey over 6 months, following the progress and success he has with his grotto. At the time I was a naive aspiring film maker, keen to learn but certainly not refined in any way. I saw this as an opportunity to learn, meet new people and test the water at making a documentary.
Over the 6 months of filming I collected over 15 hours of footage. I was somewhat overwhelmed by the entire process and the journey I had witnessed was incredible. What Stan achieved every year was somewhat of a fairytale and the material I had collected told the story of what this icon of Liverpool went through each and every Christmas.
This was our pre release film explaining what we have been producing.
However, I felt slightly intimidated and at a loss of what to do with all the material. Although I had dreams of making a documentary, in reality I had no experience or practical knowledge of how to undertake such a process. So I archived the footage for the following year. 2005/6 would be the year I knew how to make a film!
As studies, work and personal life took over, the Santa Documentary got forgotten about. The only time I would be reminded over the following years would be when I would pass Stans home or read about him online. Once I had graduated from University and Keyhole was set up, before I knew it I was working on Television documentaries and commercial pieces. In all honesty I probably felt a little embarrassed at my naive attempt of making a film…..
So there was at least one positive to come from the entire year of 2020, I finally got to make the first film I had ever shot! ‘Designated Santa Of The North - Stan Fullerton’
I have had a truly amazing time putting this film together. it has been nostalgic, heart warming and a reminder of the good times. It's been difficult this year for us all to imagine good times like Christmas, where we all gather together and spend quality time with family and friends. This film throws me back to my childhood, to when things were new, experiencing things for the first time, dreaming big and achieving goals. All the things that 2020 has stopped a lot of us from doing.
I have created 6 episodes from the material I gathered, all of which tell the story of Stan Fullerton and his amazing Christmas Grotto. We will be releasing a film each week on the run up to Christmas and hope that you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed making them.
Episode 1 introduces you to Stan Fullerton, who he is, where his passion for Christmas came from and what he intends to do over the coming 6 months.
As the films develop we see Stan erecting a 35ft Father Christmas in his front garden, opening grottos and attending public events. Over 20,000 people visit his home and we even get a very special surprise on Christmas Day!
Make sure you subscribe to our Youtube channel so that you don't miss out on Episode 2!