Director Tommy Avallone talks about his experience filming the Christmas documentary I AM SANTA CLAUS starring WWE legend Mick Foley, which was released back in November.
Q1. When did you realize you wanted to begin your career in filmmaking? How long have you been in the industry?
I got my first video camera when I was 11 years old. I would make movies and skits with my friends. We would pretend we were professional wrestlers and tape ourselves cutting promos. (So working with Mick Foley in I Am Santa Claus, was awesome.) In 2011 my first movie, Community College came out. I later produced Miss December that Kevin Smith released in 2012.
Q2. You directed I AM SANTA CLAUS, which was realized back in November. How did you come up with this unique idea?
I was walking around the Cherry Hill Mall with my wife during Christmas one year. We walked by Santa and I asked her, “I wonder who Santa goes home to? What life does he come back to on the December 26th?” I talked to my producer and asked him what he thought about a Santa Claus documentary. He didn’t like the idea, so we did it! (He has since changed his mind and liked the idea.)
Q3. This documentary required you to do lots of traveling in order to film each different Santa. Where there any difficulties and if so, how did you manage to overcome them?
Yeah it was intense. We starting filming in 2012, and within the year and a half shoot, we traveled to 19 different cities talking to over 30-40 different Santas. One time in order to save money on a hotel, I slept at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. A plus when traveling the US for a year and a half was visiting 13 different Fuddruckers locations. I have eaten at the Fuddruckers in the following cities: Sherman Oaks, California, Sterling Heights, Michigan, Springfield, Missouri, Flint Michigan, Parsippany New Jersey, Lake Oswego Oregon, Fort Worth Texas, Bloomington Minnesota, Las Vegas, Nevada (inside the Orleans Hotel,) Columbia, Maryland, York, Pennsylvania, Wayne, New Jersey and the Fuddruckers in Terminal A at the Houston International Airport! Needless to say, I enjoy a Fuddruckers burger!!!! (They should have sponsored us.)
Q4. What your favorite moments during filming and/or post production?
There were a lot of cool moments during our time shooting I AM SANTA CLAUS.
Meeting our first Santa Claus in public was crazy. It was bizarre and magical all at the same. The first time I was in a room with more than 200 Santas was something to be experienced. Watching Mick Foley show up on Monday Night Raw as Santa Claus was pretty cool. (because we were the ones who bleached his beard.) It felt like we affected WWE History in some way.
The first time Santa Jim cried on camera at the Texas Bear Round Up was different. It came out of nowhere. I knew we had something special after that. (Jim later cried four more times around me.) The day after Wrestlemania 30, Mick Foley left Mania, took a red eye flight from New Orleans to New York, and met me at Morgan Spurlock’s office. We played a close to finished movie for Morgan. It took three years to get to that point. It felt great!
While in Chicago filming Mick’s Santa Class, we went to Hot Doug’s and ate an amazing Pork Sausage with Pepperoni, Mozzarella, Spinach, Roasted Tomatoes, Ricotta Salata, and a Pesto Aioli. THE BEST!!!
Premiering the movie in Los Angles and having Kevin Smith come to the theatre and watching it was a moment I still look back and cannot believe.
Q5. Who are your favorite directors/ What are your top three favorite movies?
My favorite directors are Richard Linklater, Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino and Morgan Spurlock.
Top Three movies… How about I do Top Five. In no particular order. SLC Punk, Ghostbusters, Billy Madison, Fight Club, and My Cousin Vinny.
Q6. What are your plans for the future?
I hope to one day win a SLAMMY AWARD!!!