Candace Lee on her new film, The Christmas Candle
Why make a film based on Max Lucado's book of the same title?
Our team are long-time fans and also friends of Max Lucado, and he is really just a masterful story teller. We all had encountered Max's story, the Christmas Candle, at different times and in different ways, the first being Tom Newman (producer) who actually heard about the story when Max was just toying around with the idea.
Max was talking to Tom about this idea he had, a story set in old time England with a village candle maker and an angel. Tom was totally captivated and told Max right away that if he wrote the book he would make the movie. It was destined to be a film from the start. We each had our own encounter with the Christmas candle. I read the book when I was a student at University studying film and prayed a little prayer that one day I would get to work on a project like that. So it's really lovely to see all of our journeys converge in the making of the Christmas Candle.
The film marks Susan Boyle's acting debut. What led you to cast her?
Tom Newman originally had the idea. He tells a fun story of his mother-in-law staying at his house around the holidays belting out Susan Boyle tunes throughout. Tom just woke up one day and had the idea so he called my colleague and I. We were still crafting the screenplay at that point and he said he had a crazy idea, what if we put Susan Boyle in our film. We immediately had an idea of where she would fit in. We actually crafted the role of Eleanor Hopewell for her with her talent in mind.
The film contains a deep message about faith. How will this appeal to a wide audience?
One of the things that I think is nice about the film is that it approaches the topic of faith through the eyes of a man you would think would be rock solid but even he has doubts and I think truth is everyone has faith. We all have moments where it is easier to believe in miracles and there are times where it is hard to have faith. It is tempting to lose hope. I think there is something in all the different characters in the community. Hopefully people will be able to see glimpses of themselves in each of them. There is a strong theme of not only believing in miracles but also being the miracle for one another. It is beautiful to see people show kindness to one another and people answering each other's prayers. I think there is a sense of community spirit which is especially appealing around the holidays, and it's Christmas!
How is this film different to others you have worked on?
This is the first period film that we have done and it was a blast! We enjoyed working with the British crew, there was such excellence in everything that they did from the production design to the costumes, the attention to detail and authenticity to create this world. It really felt like we were all stepping back in time. We had people who are used to working on huge films like Harry Potter and Prometheus, these were the people we had on our crew.
Christmas films are made to entertain the family and get them in the festive spirit. This one however appears to do more than just inject festivity into viewers. Was there a motive behind the film?
What we wanted people to take from the film is knowing that even the prayers we don't even dare to pray, God hears them. Hopefully people leave with hope that no matter what they are going through God has His eye on them and He is weaving together miracles in all of our lives. That was one motive, that we hope people would walk away feeling happy and in the Christmas Spirit but also a deeper faith and sense of security in knowing that God is there. Also, there aren't many films that really take a look at Advent and we were so pleased to have an avenue to share this. A lot of people aren't familiar with advent, especially over in the United States. Everyone can appreciate love, hope and joy which are the themes of Advent. So those are some of the motives we had in making the film.
What other projects are you currently working on?
We have a couple in the works. One is a family adventure film set in America, we can't say too much about it just yet but we have a pretty exciting group that we are looking at partnering with for that. There is also a musical about the life of St Peter that is in the works, that is to be shot in Europe. We are really excited about both of those projects.
The Christmas Candle is out in cinemas on 8 December at VUE Cinemas and selected screenings thereafter. For listings, visit http://thechristmascandle.moonfruit.com/