Animated musicals are more popular than ever. We see this in the success of Disney. Despite this, they are very few Christian animated musicals. The biblical account of the Christmas story has never been animated. The closest to come to it was The Star by Sony pictures. This is an animated movie about the funny animals in the nativity. While we love animals, they’re not what the Christmas story is all about. What we need is an authentic look at Mary and Joseph’s story- the raw feelings and emotions that they were feeling. This is what allows the audience to put themselves in the characters’ shoes and the story is brought to life.
Another one of the few Christian animated musicals is The Prince of Egypt by DreamWorks; an animated musical retelling of the story of Moses that drew in a wide audience. At the time it was the most successful non-Disney film made. The Prince of Egypt stayed true to the Biblical account. It had financial success and critical success, and it reached people beyond churched audiences. That’s the model of success my studio is following.
We (Hovr.studio) are on a mission to release the first animated Christmas story movie true to the gospel and from the perspective of Mary and Joseph. This film is based on the 7-year long-running musical, The Unusual Tale of Mary and Joseph’s Baby. This musical is co-written by #1-selling musicians, Don and Lori Chaffer, and award-winning NYC playwright, Chris Cragin-Day. The greatest story ever told is brought to life in a sincere human way, and with an animation style that bursts with imagination and wonder.
Don and Lori Chaffer are from the band Waterdeep, #1 selling independent Christian artists and winners of the national theatre conference. They are a Nashville-based duo who have over 15 full-length albums and write musicals as of the last 10 years. They have done collaborations with Katie Herzig, Matthew Perryman Jones, and Trent Dabbs, and receive multiple placements in film and television.
So, why hasn’t the Christmas story been animated? While we think Hollywood is responsible for this, so are Christians. This is the story of a pregnant, teenage hero. That the Messiah would be born from a virgin teenager is scandalous. Even more so, there is a reluctance to animate or make entertainment out of sacred things. On our Facebook page, we have seen comments about how it is sacrilegious to animate the Christmas story.
There are two things I will say to this. First, when we go to church, the message is a casual conversation about the gospel. Jesus dwells with us in our everyday lives and is not unapproachable. In fact, at church a few weeks ago, the pastor preached exactly what one of our songs is about. “Never Gonna” is about how Mary was scared to go to Joseph about being pregnant with the savior because Joseph, or anyone else for that matter, would never believe her.
Secondly, let us not forget the parable of the minas in Luke 19. This is a parable about God giving us resources and talents to steward. Whatever our talents are, whether that be making animations or singing punk rock songs, may we use them for the glory of God.
We care about what our children and grandchildren watch. As one of the only few Christian Animation studios in the world, we have the responsibility to create quality Christian content that can disrupt the current worldly themes in the media today.
We have opened our film for investment at theunusualtale.com and hope to raise enough to release this film in Christmas of 2024. If this movie is mildly successful, we will have the opportunity to create a Christian animation brand that could tell the greatest stories for years to come.
It’s time for people to know that Christmas is more than presents and sweets. People who don’t go to church need to know and be exposed to the real story of Christmas. Immanuel God with us.
By: Julia Guagliardi, HOVR studio
Hovr.studio has created Marvel’s Battleworld, Sesame Street animations, and more; winner of 21 Telly Awards, and of NAB and Communicator awards.