Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Story is the first of it’s kind for Netflix. Despite the streaming giants ultra diverse catalog of in house originals for film, tv shows and documentaries, Netflix had yet to tap into it’s own production of a live action musical. That’s now checked off it’s bucketlist.
David E. Talbert has had an exciting journey leading up to Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey. Along the way he’s built a well read resume including five feature films, and a prolific playwright and stage director’s career in musical theater spanning 30 years with 14 top-grossing national tours!
Carrying a story for 22 years could not have been an easy task but the seasoned writer and director said that he included everything that he wanted in first Netflix film. He also gave credit to Netflix saying that they rolled out the red carpet, giving his team all of the tools that they needed to complete the film. A big takeaway for him was being advised to write from his imagination versus a budget, a new strategy for Talbert.
This is no easy question to answer, especially when your main audience member will be children. Talbert told me that he had to tap into his inner child and remember that voice which speaks throughout the movie. Clever contributions led to the use of whimsical funny things that people can connect with like the second derivative of sensational, the square root of impossible, the circumference of spectacular. If you imagine what they are you will try to figure them out, allowing the message to be displayed throughout the movie to kids as well as the kid inside the adults.
A Particular track, “This Day”, performed by Usher and Kiana Ledé brought overwhelming emotions to director and producer team. David shared that he and wife, lead producer Lyn Sisson-Talbert, both cried when listening to the lyrics: even when life is knocking you down you had to figure it out, make a way through the doubt, when you’re lost finding your way. In his 22 year relationship with his wife, they waited for this day. It’s a dream come true for both he and his wife lead producer Lyn Sesson-Talbert.
Lyn wore many hats during the process including wife, mother and producer. Some of her more memorable moments while on set involved music as well. Jeronicus Jangle portrayed by Forest Whitaker, is a brilliant inventor who regains his sense of wonder and magic when his granddaughter enters his life. Talbert reminisced about Forest Whitaker singing Over and Over on the set, it started as a rehearsal but they were actually recording. The entire set fell silent. Sisson-Talbert also shared to look out for a bonus song With Love from Anika Noni Rose!
Other featured original songs are performed by John Legend, Philip Lawrence, Davy Nathan, and more.
More Than Race
There was an intentional, conscious decision to populate the story multi-culturally. Today’s world has knocked down many doors that call for unity and inclusivity especially amongst the arts. Jingle Jangle had to do more with showing the humanity within everyone versus a specific culture. It’s set to the Victorian era, from the 1860s to the 1890s in the imaginary town of Cobbleton. Most of the blacks during this era were first generation Africans, inspiring costume designers to infuse authentic African textiles with Victorian era fashion. The outcome is unlike no other.
While Lisa Davina Phillips shared that her costume was gorgeous and flattering to wear, she was always warm while filming as they were heavy as the women’s Victorian garments. The world is vibrant, a tapestry of colors an people and culture. We wanted the feel to be for representative in the film for the world exclaimed director Talbert.
Madalen Mills is introduced to the silver screen as Journey. This came about as production was down to the 11th hour when they found her. Her background is in broadway and filming Jingle Jangle was a lot different than being on stage in front of a live audience. She, of course, enjoyed every minute of being in front of the camera. I asked her about her Christmas wish and she said:
Lisa Phillip experienced a learning curve coming from her experience on West End (Broadway which is Europe’s equivalent) to Film because she didn’t have to be as expressive. A big lesson learned for her is channeling all of her energy into the lense of the camera versus allowing her to temper her volume.
Kieron Dyer really enjoyed portraying Edison Latimer, Journey’s sidekick, because he was very ambitious and optimistic and reminds him of positive characteristics in himself. His Christmas wish is for everyone to sit down with family and spend some time together. Well wishes to all.
My family and I enjoyed Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey. Not once did my two son’s question the cast, a win for me. As a Black woman in the US or in this world, I want to be seen primarily as a human being first. The Talbert’s successfully produced a Christmas story with a predominately Black and African cast while telling a beautiful Christmas tale, not in a Black or African tradition, but through a family tradition sharing the joys of Christmas, second chances, and the power of love to conquer all obstacles. Enjoy!
STREAMING ON NETFLIX NOVEMBER 14
JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY SYNOPSIS:
A musical adventure and a visual spectacle for the ages, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is a wholly fresh and spirited family holiday event. Set in the gloriously vibrant town of Cobbleton, the film follows legendary toymaker Jeronicus Jangle (Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker) whose fanciful inventions burst with whimsy and wonder. But when his trusted apprentice (Emmy winner Keegan-Michael Key) steals his most prized creation, it’s up to his equally bright and inventive granddaughter (newcomer Madalen Mills) — and a long-forgotten invention — to heal old wounds and reawaken the magic within. From the imagination of writer-director David E. Talbert and featuring original songs by John Legend, Philip Lawrence, Davy Nathan, and “This Day” performed by Usher and Kiana Ledé, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey reminds us of the strength of family and the power of possibility.
Follow JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY ! Streaming on Netflix November 14!
Directed by DAVID E. TALBERT
Written by DAVID E. TALBERT
LYN SISSON-TALBERT, p.g.a.
DAVID E. TALBERT, p.g.a.
KRISTIN BURR, p.g.a.
ANIKA NONI ROSE
introducing MADALEN MILLS as Journey
with PHYLICIA RASHAD
and RICKY MARTIN,
LISA DAVINA PHILLIP
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*A very special thank you to Netflix for hosting me*