A trip to church with her family on Christmas Eve gives young Angela an extraordinary idea. A heartwarming tale based on Frank McCourt’s picture book, Angela and the Baby Jesus. Between 2009-2015, Buzzco developed by the project before it was sold to Brown Bag where I stayed on as Executive Producer and was delighted in the way its turned out!
It was Frank McCourt’s wish to turn his picture book, “Angela and the Baby Jesus” into a Christmas musical production. Since both Lanny Meyers and Isaiah Sheffer worked with him over the years, it was Frank’s wish that they collaborate with him. Unfortunately Frank died before his wish could be realized.
Frank’s widow, Ellen McCourt continued to work with Isaiah on Irish productions and Lanny has acted as musical director on Isaiah Sheffer’s Thalia Follies and many other theatrical projects.
Lanny Meyers collaborated on all of the Buzzco independent films and much of their sponsored work. And we contributed to Isaiah’s Thalia Follies over the years.
And so the team was formed!
Lanny wrote seven beautiful songs (we made a music video of one of them, Blessings of the Season), Isaiah wrote a half-hour screenplay, we made character models and inspirational drawings and little animatics.
Buzz Potamkin came on as executive producer to deal with the intricacies of doing a TV special. Ellen McCourt was making sure we kept Frank’s vision in mind. And there was a person who claimed she had the financing in order.
We kept on developing the story and the look between 2009 and 20012 with the money always being in reach. Then in the course of 6 short months, Vinny, Buzz and Isaiah all unexpectedly passed away.
Ellen wasn’t sure she wanted to continue and I was without Vinny’s support at Buzzco. It would be difficult to make a 1/2-hour special without my creative partner to help supervise the crew.
That summer (2012) I went to the Annecy International Animation Festival for “Le Grand Sommeil”-- a tribute to animators who have passed away– where they showed three of our films and previewed my tribute to our collaboration The Last Time.
It was also Annecy Festival's year of Irish Animation. There were about a dozen Irish studios showing their work there and it occurred to me that I could possibly make this special using an Irish studio as the production house. I was especially impressed by the work of Brown Bag Films in Dublin, whose CG work was lovely.
I pitched the idea of the “real life” story to be done in CG, and Angela’s fantasy, the songs, to be shown in drawn 2D animation at Buzzco to Darragh O'Connell, creative director at Brown Bag. We began working to develop it together. Brown Bag applied to many of the Irish financing entities and although we had collaborated and I was ready to direct it, in the end they needed an Irish director and wanted to get away from the original concept of a musical. So there was no need for Buzzco to do any animation.
But I was happy to remain as Executive Producer, gladly adding my two cents to the discussion, and the beautiful final special turned out to be a smash hit for Netflix and was enjoyed worldwide after its premiere at Christmas 2017.
Daytime Emmy Nominee: Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program, Outstanding Writing for an Animated Program, Outstanding Sound Mixing for an Animated Program
Emile Awards Nominee: Best Sound Design in a TV/Broadcast Production
Irish Animation Awards Nominee: Best Sound Design
Irish Film & Television Awards Nominee: Best Short Animation
Brown Bag Films
Cathal Gaffney and Darragh O'Connell founders
Directed by Damien O'Conner
Executive Producers: Ellen McCourt, Malachy McCourt, Candy Kugel
Developed by Candy Kugel