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Jurgen Kling talks Deathcember segment Crappy Christmas: Operation Christmas Child

Deathcember is set to be the ultimate Christmas horror anthology with a monstrous lineup of 24 segments of yuletide terror.

Bloody Flicks recently caught up with director Jurgen Kling to discuss his segment Crappy Christmas: Operation Christmas Child.

Tell us how you got involved with Deathcember?

I was contacted by Frank Vogt who is one of the 3 Producers of Deathcember.
Frank and I had already produced the Stop-Motion-Monster Trailer for Fantasy Film Fest in Germany and worked on the music-video “Me” for the gothicrock band ASP.
As soon as I heard all the details (5min short, Christmas-horror, no rating restrictions) I was hooked so I contacted my friend and fellow stop-motion-artist Alex Dannhauser who was into it as well and became the Co-Producer of Crappy Christmas..
Frank agreed to handle the post-production and we were ready to go.

What can you tell us about your segment Crappy Christmas: Operation Christmas Child?
It´s the only Deathcember segment that is animated and it´s the only one that deals with clerical Christmas. It´s controversial, provocative and confrontational.
It’s about a kid who gets kidnapped and finds himself in a little cell held hostage by three pedophile clergymen. Its shocking and disturbing and several scenes were no fun to animate.
After making it thru the tough parts viewers get a little comic relief when Kid tries to break free. But you should not expect a happy ending.
We are currently working on a little trailer which is scheduled for release around Dec 9.

How long did you have to shoot the segment?
The deadline was quite tough for us since the whole schedule of Deathcember was based on live-action projects.
We started the preproduction (storyboarding, animatic, set-building, props- and puppet-making, tests etc.) at the Weirdoughmationfilms-Studio in Gelnhausen, Germany on Jan14th 2019 and were ready for shooting Feb 22nd.
We shot on 2 stages simultaneously, sometimes 6 days a week and wrapped shooting on 13th April. Just the shooting alone took us almost 40 days which is 20 times longer than the average shooting time of most of the other Deathcember segments.
I did not care very much about the given deadline to be honest and took the time that was needed. Speeding up production forces you to increase the budget if you want to keep the level of quality, and budget was something we did not have since those were as well based on live-action productions.

I believe the idea came about in 1999, so its been a long journey right?
The first Crappy Christmas film was shot in 1999 for a video advent calendar challenge from German music TV channel VIVA.
One year later they had another video advent calendar at VIVA, so I shot Crappy Christmas 2, which was done really quick, mainly to win some prices from the challenge.
That’s why i was totally thrilled when I was asked to produce a film for another advent calendar project in 2019 which happened to be the 20th anniversary of the original Crappy Christmas so it just had to be another part of this “franchise”.

What can you tell us about the stop motion filmmaking process?
Its slow, its tough and unlike in cell-animation where you can draw in-betweens, erase lines and correct them or in CG-animation where you can access any frame at any time for corrections, you always start at point A and somehow try to make it to point B without screwing up when you shoot stop-frame animation. So its much harder to control the final output.
But it has something very special and magical when you build a little world and light it. You put your characters in this world and while you’re shooting you’re with your character in the same 3dimensional space, you can touch things, feel the atmosphere
it´s physical and direct. As an animator you mostly work alone on your stage, as soon as the camera is set, everything is prepared and double checked it often becomes almost meditational while you dive into this miniature world.

Have you managed to see the completed Deathcember film yet?
Yes I´ve seen the original 145 minute version 3 times (1x at the cast and crew premiere, as well as 2x at the Fantasy Film Fest White Nights in Germany) where I had the pleasure to meet many of my fellow directors as well as producer,s actors of pother segments, and the 2 Volume version 1 time at the Slash X-Mas screening in Vienna, Austria which was an awesome horror community Christmas party with bad Christmas music, cookies, punch, and great deco incl. skeletons wearing Santa heads.

Were you nervous or excited for audiences to see Crappy Christmas: Operation Christmas Child?
I was totally excited when my film screened at all those great festivals around the world ! like a kid on x-mas. I wished i could have joined more screenings but unfortunately many got cancelled due to the COVID pandemic.
I am a bit nervous about whether my film will be able to ever reach an audience in the U.S.A where it was banned from the VOD version of Deathcember because of its shocking nature.
It´s very bitter to have spend almost 5 month on a 5 minute film just to see it disappear in drawer.

Catch the UK premiere of Deathcember at the Grimmfest Xmas Horror Nights on 12th December 2020.

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