In 2022 General Theological Seminary (GTS) merged with Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS). The goal of this connection was to steer GTS towards a brighter future. The merge presented an opportunity for GTS to explore new ways to communicate about its contribution to the Episcopal Church and a chance to build new relationships through fresh and innovative projects. One of these projects is the short film, “Mr. Moore’s Gift.”
“Mr. Moore’s Gift” is the culmination of an idea to tell the story of Clement Clarke Moore, who not only wrote the poem the film is based on, but also donated the land that GTS was built on and would later go on to teach there for over 30 years.
This story is a vision of writer and producer Non Vaughan-O’Hagan, an award winning writer and longtime friend of Dean and President of VTS, Ian Markham. In 2022, we worked with Non to help promote the play Dust. With the success of Dust, combined with our long connection with VTS, we were trusted to help brainstorm this special and historical project.
This production’s success is a testament to the many contributors whose creative minds came together and produced something truly special. This short film aims to not only inspires the episcopal church but also adults and children alike.
The initial creative meetings were focused on how to portray the story. We explored different approaches, yet settled on a live action approach, which utilized magical realism to help bring the story to life. We found a local illustrator, Anona Orban, who was able to work with us to help develop a style. Creating this style was an important step as it allowed us to create a brand and specific look for the film, one that could be used in future projects with GTS.
Production occurred over the span of three days and took place on the GTS campus. We felt it was important to film on campus, as one of the goals of this project was to bring attention to GTS and its unique history, especially in relation to the poem. By filming on the grounds, we hoped to inspire people to visit GTS and experience its magic for themselves.
One of the challenges of the shoot was adhering to the production schedule, as we had a designated and limited amount of time in which the talent was available. Luckily, everyone remained in good spirits and we were able to successfully shoot in four different locations around the campus: The stairs, Maggie’s bedroom, the study, and of course, the refectory.
The success of the shoot can be attributed to everyone’s talents working in tandem. Everyone on the crew knew going into the project that this would be an excellent opportunity to showcase the power of teamwork and cooperation that you can find at 6HD.
Mr. Moore’s Gift is a unique and enchanting story and it was important to capture the magic of the story in post production. Through the use of motivated lighting and dynamic sound design, we wanted to bring to life the poem in a cinematic setting that would fully immerse the audience. Since Christmas is such a nostalgic time of year for many, we wanted to make sure that the film could be enjoyed by people of all ages.
Working from a predetermined script and shotlist enabled us to streamline the editing process and focus on bringing to life the world of the film. Through special effects and VFX we created a dreamlike world filled with wonder that perfectly encapsulates the timelessness of Christmas.
We are very proud of our work on this project. The initial idea for this project began as a short animation and ended up developing into a full cinematic short film. This project is an excellent example of the innovation, problem solving and above all else, creativity that we pride ourselves in.
You can visit mrmooresgift.com for more information and behind the scenes of Mr. Moore’s Gift.