«Finally, we have created the film that I would have liked to see as a child: the story of the first Christmas presented in a fun, attractive and exciting way for the whole family can watch»
The Digital Catholic Missionaries team had the opportunity to interview, exclusively, the talented animator and film director Timothy Reckart, director of the latest Sony Animation Studios movie, The Star (The Star of Bethlehem)
Timothy Reckart, is an American animator and director who resides in Los Angeles and specializes in frames (stop motion) of puppets. He is well known for his 2012 film Head Over Heels, nominated for an Oscar for best animated short film in 2013. Reckart grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where he attended College and High School. He studied History and Literature at Harvard University where he graduated in 2009. He then attended the National School of Film and Television in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom where he graduated as Director of Animation in 2012.
Timothy Reckart, The Star (Star of Bethlehem) is his most recent film as a director and where DeVon Franklin, known for making inspiring films such as “Heaven is real” and “Miracles from Heaven”, also participates as executive producer.
“The Star” features an impressive cast headed by Steven Yeun (Bo, the donkey), Gina Rodriguez (Maria), Zachary Levi (Jose) Keegan-Michael Key (Dave, the dove), Kelly Clarkson (Leah, the horse) Anthony Anderson (Zach, the goat), Aidy Bryant (Ruth, the sheep), Ving Rhames (Thaddeus, the dog), Gabriel Iglesias (Rufus, the dog), Patricia Heaton (Edith, the cow), Kristin Chenoweth (the mouse), the renowned radio host, Delilah Rene (Elizabeth), Christopher Plummer (King Herod), Kris Kristofferson (the old donkey), as well as Tracy Morgan (Felix), Tyler Perry (Cyrus) and Oprah Winfrey (Deborah) as the three camels.
This cartoon film tells the story of the first Christmas in a fun and entertaining way, it is a film targeted for the whole family, where adults and children will have a lot of fun. Read next the interesting interview we did to Tim.
-What inspired you to produce this movie? Why talk about Christmas and the birth of Jesus?
When I was a child, we didn’t have movies about the birth of Jesus , at least none that we wanted to see as children. When I was a child, my family had a box of Christmas movies that we watched every year. We had movies of Santa Claus, elves, Ebenezer Scrooge, but we didn’t have movies about the birth of Jesus, at least none that we wanted to see as children. So when Sony and I started talking about telling the story of Christmas from the point of view of animals, I was very excited. It is an excellent way to tell this story in an innovative way, as if we were listening to it for the first time, although everyone heard about it dozens of times. We can be creative with animal history while being completely accurate to the history of the Gospels. We can have comedy and action with animals, without turning Maria and José into comedians or action heroes. This is why I feel happy to have directed this project, because I think that we have finally created the film I would have liked to see as a child: the story of the first Christmas presented in a way that is fun, attractive and exciting for the whole family.
-Tell us a little about the plot of this movie, why do animals take a leading role?
From the Gospels we know that King Herod sent his soldiers to chase Baby Jesus to kill him. In The Star, King Herod sends his most dangerous soldier and his two hunting dogs to chase Mary and Joseph. Our animal characters find out Mary and Joseph are in danger, and each one has a role to protect them. In doing so, they learn the value of friendship, of working as a team and sacrifice.
-Tell us more about donkey Bo, who is he?
At the beginning, Bo is a donkey that walks in circles inside a mill. He knows in his heart he has a call to do something important, but at first he thinks he will be an important donkey for the king. In fact, he discovers it is more important and better to help Maria, who seems to be an ordinary person. For me, it was important that Bo’s story reflected the story of Christmas message, the night when God chooses to come to earth not as a King who descends from the clouds, but as a little baby born from two ordinary poor parents in a stable. So Bo’s story shows at the same time that great things can have a humble appearance.
*Tim, one of your most awarded films so far has been “Head over Heels”, in this movie you talk about a couple who lives separated by gravity under the same roof … a very interesting metaphor that ends in a happy ending, a couple gathered. Are we going to watch more of your movies that show family values, religious themes, etc.? Tell us more about upcoming projects …
There are many possibilities for my next project, I’m still not sure what it will be. But I am looking for projects that are entertaining and exciting, with some message that I consider important for our culture. So even if my next film does not have a religious theme, I think it will be in tune with the values of people of faith
Tim, you are very young but please tell us what you would like to tell those young people who want to work in animated films or art in general, is it difficult?
It is very important for young people who want to work in animation to practice their drawing. Not all people in animation use drawings for their work, but they use them to communicate. It is visual media so it is necessary to be able to communicate an idea visually. I would also say there are many jobs in animation, not only to directing or animating. There are storyboard artists, character designers, set designers, light designers, technical artists … young people should find out which part of this industry they are more talented for.
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