Kelly Nettles: Writer and Shoot Host


ATLANTA, Ga. — Kelly Nettles not only helped write the script for “Santa’s Boot Camp,” but also provided her own home as a shooting location.

Nettles was involved in the film from the beginning as part of a group that included producer and director Ken Feinberg that brainstormed ideas. They decided to make a holiday film.

“Writing for Ken is very interesting because the production is usually cast before the script is ever made because he needs to include the majority of his children in his acting school,” she said. “We needed an idea that included a lot of children actors in it.”

They came up with the idea of having Santa came up with a boot camp for some badly-behaved children, who must save Christmas.

Soon after the brainstorming, Feinberg asked Nettles to be one of the lead writers. They took in suggestions and wrote the first 20 pages of script. Another writer, Mimi Fontaine, wrote another script. Feinberg took her ideas and pasted them into Nettles’ script. The script was rewritten several times to accommodate various ideas. Even the actors contributed. For example, Michael Rosen came up with the idea of Murray the Hanukah Elf, which gave Nettles the idea that the elf union could demand spreading Christmas into other religions.

Nettles’ ideas included the idea of a striking elf union, which is why Santa needed to abduct the bad children in the first place. Nettles also wrote the majority of the dialogue and, based on a conversation with a police officer friend, scenes where the kids try to steal Santa’s sleigh and try to kidnap elves. Different attempted escapes and the kids being forced to watch videos of their own bad behavior were also Nettles’ ideas.

Nettles was present for the first read-through.

“It’s just very gratifying, especially for a read-through, to have everybody clap after they finish your product,” she said. “You know you’re doing a good job.”

The fact the film was made over the course of two years meant some roles had to be recast, since the original actors were now too big to play them. One of the new girls, Erika Bierman, was so fantastic they added new dialogue for her character Twinkle and put her in more scenes.

“I am extremely amazed at her talent,” she said.

Nettles’ task wasn’t finished even when the shooting was. Due to time constraints, Feinberg had to make some changes, and Nettles rewrote the script to reflect this. That way, potential distributors and investors would have an accurate idea of what would be in the finished film.

She was on-set for parts of the filming, including scenes shot at her own home. These sequences include: The striking elves visiting a spa, when bad teen Zoe frames her brother for eating a pie intended for guests; and when bad teen Cedric betrays a friend who had confided in him. This experience was “very crazy,” with 60 people coming in and out of her house all the time. However, she’s been on enough sets to expect that. The whole experience was a lot of fun. She also enjoyed attending the scene shot at the Cobb Galleria Center Mall where noted actor Eric Roberts portrayed a mall Santa. She also liked the barn at Stone Mountain, which was perfect for the film.

Nettles appreciated everybody’s input. She expects “Santa’s Boot Camp” to be a really cute film.


Writer Kelly Nettles