Imagine The Breakfast Club goes to Willy Wonka's factory at Christmas.

Director Ken Feinberg

From IRS To Boot Camp: The Tale of a Script


ATLANTA, Ga.—Santa’s Boot Camp began with an idea that the Jolly Old Elf would be audited by the IRS and ended with a tale of Santa teaching poorly-behaved teens a lesson in good behavior.


Producer and director Ken Feinberg said the project began two years ago when he had a whole year of short films made at Creative Studios of Atlanta’s Film Academy of Atlanta, which he founded in 2009. That year, his students shot so many short films that his editor told him with all the time and effort they’d put in, they could have made a feature-length film. Feinberg began the 2011-2012 year hoping to make movie that would appeal to people outside of the CSA Film Academy. He got together with writers Kelly Nettles, Mimi Fontaine, producer and editor Craig Tollis, and Olufemi Sowememo, the vice president of the Atlanta Screenwriters Group. Ken had the idea of Santa Claus being audited by the IRS. Craig liked the idea of Santa Claus as a character because he’s a universal icon—everyone knows who he is.


Eric Roberts and Doug Kaye fill two of the major roles in the film—both of them play Santa Claus. However, the film starts mostly young actors who’ve been trained by the CSA Film Academy.


“One of the great things about writing a script for actors that you know is that we designed characters around their personalities,” Feinberg said.


For example, Ansley Williams’ personality is rather diva-ish, so they created the role of Diva Elf to suit her. Matthew Smock did improv with some little kids, so Feinberg thought it would be hilarious to depict him as a very large elf. The writers sat in on a few classes so they could observe the participants.


Meeting with the five writers fleshed out the story outline and incorporated incidents like one of the delinquent teens attempting to kidnap an elf. Fontaine and Nettles went home and wrote their own feature-length script. When they were finished six weeks later, Feinberg took elements of both scripts and combined them. Feinberg took the “Code 33” scene where the elves go on strike from Fontaine’s script, as well as the character of Johnny, who works as an elf at the mall and is wearing an elf suit when Santa abducts him. An attempted hijacking of Santa’s sleigh came from Nettles’ script.


In 2011, they shot a 20-30 minute short film. After visiting the Cannes Film Festival in May 2012, they got a distributor and the funds to expand Santa’s Boot Camp in to a full-length movie.


Script edits continued all the way through filming.


Now that filming is finished, all that remains is post-production work like inserting visual effects and mixing the sound. Shoreline Entertainment is asking for the film to be ready for Christmas 2013, which is a good sign.


“I’m really excited about this film,” Feinberg said. “People who see the trailer want to see more of it.”