Filmmaker Ken Feinberg doesn’t exactly have the profile of a guy who just made a film about Santa Claus. In fact, the Atlanta-born, Jewish-raised Feinberg once made a nice living in Los Angeles, playing big, bad-looking meanies (bikers, demons, etc.) on shows like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Charmed,” and now, he’s helming a family holiday picture called SANTA’S BOOT CAMP starring a bunch of kids with a cameo by Academy Award nominee Eric Roberts? How did THAT happen?
It was in fact Feinberg running into a wall of “typecasting” the prompted him to move back to Atlanta a decade ago and start the Creative Studios of Atlanta Film Academy. Having learned the harsh realities of how to make a living as a working professional actor, he wanted to bring that knowledge back to the young actors in his home town. The focus on the academy is not only traditional acting instruction, but an opportunity for every student in the year-long program to work on a real film.
After producing dozens of short films featuring his students over the course of several years, Feinberg and his team produced their first feature, SANTA’S BOOT CAMP, a hilarious look behind the scenes at Santa’s Workshop where Santa’s Elves go on strike and a handful of regular kids must save the day. A story with valuable lessons that speak to contemporary issues and celebrate the universal holiday themes of generosity and kindness, the film was recently awarded the Director’s Gold Award at the International Family Film Festival, and will be distributed by SP Releasing on November 15. Roberts stars as a beleaguered mall Santa, and nearly 50 young performers have speaking parts.
As a mentor and teacher, Feinberg celebrates the success of a number of the academy’s graduates, who have gone on to earn roles in major projects, including “The Walking Dead,” “The Hunger Games,” “12 Years a Slave,” and “The Blind Side.” Recently, Feinberg, who is married with two young children of his own, expanded the CSA program to Cortona, Italy, continuing to embrace new opportunities to combine creativity and teaching.
Writer/director Ken Feinberg is eager to spread the message of SANTA’S BOOT CAMP – that when young people put their best effort forward, they can do anything – which is delivered both on screen by the kids who come together to save Christmas, and off-screen by the talented young artists who bring their characters and the story to such vivid life.
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Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: Ken Feinberg
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