Christmas movie shot in Livingston County releases Nov. 3

Thomas Bonifield

What a phenomenon the Christmas movie has become in America: some 70 new Yuletide flicks will hit the small screen over the next two months. And this year, Livingston County is getting in on the holiday filmmaking action.

The movie is called “Miracle on Christmas,” a faith-based independent film shot in Howell and Brighton. It stars Erin Bethea (“Fireproof”) and Jason Burkey (“I Can Only Imagine”) and has a real local flavor: most of the crew and more than half the cast is from Michigan, including Livingston County’s own Brayden Eaton, a very talented 13-year old actor, and the movie’s producer, Danny Roth, who calls Howell home.

The movie, filmed primarily near the Crooked Lakes and at Cornerstone Evangelical Presbyterian Church, features many of the hallmarks (sorry, couldn’t resist that one) of those other Christmas movies: bright lighting, bold color schemes, ornaments galore, etc. But it also tells a serious tale, loosely based on the personal experience of yours truly, and remains firmly connected to the birth of Christ in Bethlehem all those years ago.

“Miracle on Christmas” focuses on a female protagonist (Bethea) wavering in her faith because of familial loss and emotional trials until an unexpected visitor, played by Brett Varvel, refocuses her attention, and that of her extended family, on the hope that comes through the Nativity. In light of the difficulties our country has endured this year, the film’s message could not be more timely.

We also built in plenty of humor into the picture, which “Movieguide” calls “uplifting” in “setting a Christmas mood.”  It features lots of classic carols — “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “Joy to the World,” “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing”— and a rollicking get-together of kith and kin. And by emphasizing universal virtues like love and fidelity in marriage, the support of family, forgiveness, reconciliation and redemption, we feel sure “Miracle on Christmas” has much to offer both faith-based movie fans and those who usually take a pass on such fare.

You can pre-order the film on DVD now at Amazon, Walmart and Target, and when it releases on Nov. 3, it will be on store shelves as well as available on-demand and for purchase in the digital format. That also happens to be Election Day, so whether your candidate wins or loses, spend the evening enjoying some inspirational Yuletide family entertainment that will remind you that our ultimate hope is found not in politicians, but in Jesus Christ, whose birth is the true “Miracle on Christmas.”

Thomas Bonifield is a Christian screenwriter/director and former TV journalist who worked for ABC News, Fox News Channel and NBC News, where he was Moscow Bureau Chief and Deputy Foreign Editor. “Miracle on Christmas” is his debut feature film.

Check out the trailer here:


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