Will Packer, rising Atlanta-based movie producer of Rainforest Films, gets in a holiday mood with This Christmas, directed by Preston A. Whitmore and starring Idris Elba, Regina King and Delroy Lindo.
"There hasn't been a holiday movie about a black family on this level and scale before This Christmas. It's about time, you know? But we wanted to make it relatable to any family. Even if you made the family in the film colorless, anyone could identify with them, like The Family Stone last year. They're just as dysfunctional, just as messed up, just as loving as any other family.
"We shot it in January and February of this year, although we shot some exteriors of the existing decorations ahead of time in December. It's weird because, in our overcommercialized society, Christmas is great from Thanksgiving up until Christmas Eve. Once Christmas Day hits, though, you're so done with it. We had this idea to play Christmas music on the set, to get everybody in the mood, but because it was January, people were kind of sick of hearing those songs. We heard things like, 'If you don't turn the Christmas music off, we'll throw that stereo out the window!' But with the story and the Christmas decorations, that was enough for people to get in the Christmas spirit.
"One of the things that concerned us was that This Christmas takes place in Los Angeles, which is like Christmas in Florida, where I'm from originally. I'm used to putting on shorts and getting on a golf course come Dec. 26. Those places look the same at Christmas as they do for the rest of the year, only with decorations. In the film we talk about that a little bit. You don't have that first snow, the feeling that clearly it's the holidays. We don't have that crutch to lean on, so you have to get into the spirit on your own, come hell or high water. It's still Christmastime, baby!"