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How a city girl’s visit to a North Georgia farm inspired new Christmas movie ‘The Farmer and the Belle: Saving Santaland’


A number of {couples} can level to the aha second once they knew they had been made for one another. For Jenn Gotzon, it was when she came upon what a “pig slop jar” was for.

Not solely did that second verify her emotions for Jim E. Chandler, her future husband, an actor and filmmaker, but it surely additionally impressed her to create a Christmas film, “The Farmer and the Belle: Saving Santaland,” now out there on video on demand, cable and DVD.

She made this momentous discovery whereas visiting the Chandler household’s farm in McLemore Cove on the foot of Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga Valley.

“No, I had no concept what these jars had been there for,” she recalled not too long ago with an enormous snigger.

Gotzon was working as a trend mannequin when she and Chandler met on a photograph shoot in China in 2014. She had been employed as a spokesperson for hair and make-up merchandise, and her photographs had been on billboards throughout Asia and Russia.

With years within the public eye, Gotzon mentioned she thought she knew what magnificence was all about, however she ended up discovering the which means of interior magnificence after serving to feed the pigs throughout the go to.

A “metropolis woman” who had by no means seen a pig, a lot much less fed a pig, it had by no means occurred to Gotzon that not solely might desk scraps be saved, however that there could possibly be a course of to it. On this case, sealing them in a jar. She’d additionally by no means thought of that such a jar may not scent like a runway.

“It smelled horrible,” she mentioned.

It was an enormous turning level in her life, her profession and her relationship with Chandler. The 2 have since married, and Gotzon used the second to conceive of the concept for a film. It was filmed partly in North Georgia a 12 months and a half in the past.

The farm in McLemore Cove, which has been in Chandler’s household since 1918, supplied “the proper place to movie this,” Chandler mentioned. “It saved us a bit of cash, but it surely additionally allowed us to contain household and other people in Chickamauga and Chattanooga. It was excellent.”

On its floor, it’s a basic Hallmark kind of movie. Throughout filming at Cloudland Station in Chattanooga Valley, director Wes Llewellyn described it as all about “Christmas, Christmas, Christmas after which a bit of extra Christmas to make it candy.”

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Picture contributed by Farmer and the Belle / Corbin Bernsen and Henry Cho star in “The Farmer and the Belle: Saving Santaland.

However the movie digs a bit of deeper than boy meets woman, boy loses woman for a minute, woman returns to a small city due to a significant change in her profession, woman discovers there’s some animosity or miscommunication between the 2 and at last the 2 get collectively throughout a scene that entails snow, despite the fact that they’re within the deep South. You realize the drill.

“The Farmer and the Belle” has all of that, in fact, but it surely’s about trying deeper and discovering the interior magnificence that everybody possesses.

“Younger Belle at age 10 will get this bracelet that has been handed down in her household for years,” Gotzon mentioned. “It has these charms that say issues like ‘Magnificence is on the within,’ and she or he goes to Santaland and loses it within the pig sty, and later she is on the finish of her profession and is getting older out as a mannequin.”

With nowhere to go, Belle decides to beat her fears of the farm. When she returns, she falls in love together with her childhood pen pal, finds the bracelet, learns what true magnificence is and finally ends up saving the city’s beloved Santaland pageant.

“The principle factor was to assist teen ladies and different ladies,” Gotzon mentioned of the movie, “And it is dressed up as Christmas magic and household enjoyable and ends with a goodhearted feeling.

“One of many bracelet charms says, ‘Use no matter presents you obtain to serve others,’ and once we know what these presents are, we understand what our most engaging issues are,” she mentioned, including that it’s not about having nice hair or nice make-up, however having a joyful coronary heart.

Actor John Schneider, who additionally has a film out this month with an area connection, performs two songs within the movie and on the soundtrack. [See related story.]

“John sings an authentic tune referred to as ‘Spirit of Christmas’ and ‘Holly Jolly Christmas,’ and it’s simply a lot enjoyable,” Gotzon mentioned.

“I really like this film, and I really like these guys,” Schneider mentioned of Gotzon and Chandler.

The soundtrack is only one a part of the advertising marketing campaign for the movie. There’s additionally a Magnificence Bracelet that options 5 charms, every with two statements concerning the true nature of magnificence. A portion of the proceeds will likely be donated to Level Hope, a nonprofit group based by nationwide radio character Delilah.

There’s additionally a 30-day devotional and examine program referred to as “Divine Magnificence: Turning into Lovely Primarily based on God’s Fact” by Michelle Cox and Gotzon with on-line video Bible research out there, in addition to a kids’s ebook that reinforces the movie’s message referred to as “Lovely Mable,” written by Mike Nawrocki, a co-creator of “VeggieTales,” and illustrated by Sara Jo Floyd.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.



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