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Help Support Efforts To Release The Movie And Receive A Free Lifetime Subscription




Several follwers of the film production for Nicholas of Myra: The Story of Saint Nicholas have been recommending that our independent entertainment company launches a Kickstarter campaign to help raise funding to speed up the release of the film in theaters and/or on VOD, TV, Blu-ray and DVD. Because of the co-financing and co-production deal that is to be worked out with another studio and the fact that we actually have entertainment products from The Adventures of Young Nicholas Family Media Series already on the Amazon market, we just don't feel comfortable right now asking people to pledge/donate money to us through crowdfunding.

However, if you do want to financially support our company's efforts to release the film without compromise, then here's your chance to do so and also receive a FREE Lifetime Subscription to our NEW Premium Online Entertainment Network that will be premiering in January 2014!


For anyone that purchases both The Adventures of Young Nicholas, Part 1 trade paperback AND The Adventures of Young Nicholas, A Musical Journey MP3 album through Amazon.com (click on the above titles to order your copies) by December 31st, you will qualify to receive your FREE Lifetime Subscription to our Premium Online Network! Subscriptions will be at more of a premium after January 1st. The network will be exclusive to subscribers and feature video and other media content not found anywhere else, not even on "Inside Wonderworker Studios" -- premium content that will be focused entirely on the movie Nicholas of Myra! And all of which will only be shared through our Premium Online Network until the film's release -- not with the general public. As well, only premium subscribers will receive a complimentary Special Edition Digital Gift-box of Nicholas of Myra downloadable movie content and will actually be granted several opportunities to have behind-the-scenes involvement in any future grassroots promotional campaigns for the movie.

All you'll need to do is hold onto your Amazon receipt (hardcopy or digital) and you will be given instructions on what to do here, when the time comes. Just make sure you keep your receipt as proof of purchase for both The Adventures of Young Nicholas, Part 1 trade paperback AND The Adventures of Young Nicholas, A Musical Journey MP3 album (dated no later than December 31st at midnight) and the FREE Lifetime Subscription will be yours! Anyone that already purchased both The Adventures of Young Nicholas, Part 1 and The Adventures of Young Nicholas, A Musical Journey has already qualified for the FREE Lifetime Subscription! As well, anyone that had purchased the Limited Edition CD "The Adventures of Young Nicholas, A Musical Journey" (no longer available online), also automatically qualifies! As previously stated, hold onto your Amazon (or Createspace) proof of purchase and you will be instructed on what to do come January. Obviously, the more financial support our company gets, the faster the film will get released! As well, subscribers to our Premium Online Network will get the chance to be an exclusive behind-the-scenes part of making that event happen!


1. A Lifetime Subcription to all Premium Online Network content -- featuring first-look opportunities at all-new scenes, post-production and visual effects images, teasers, trailers and other previews, as well as revealing behind-the-scenes documentary footage -- all from the epic film Nicholas of Myra -- content that will be seen nowhere else until the film's release is announced.

2. Opportunities to participate in upcoming test-screenings, promotional campaigns and other behind-the-scenes events for Nicholas of Myra.

3. A Nicholas of Myra Special Edition Digital Gift-box, including a digital movie poster, desktop artwork, icons, graphics, soundtrack samples and other one-of-a-kind digital media -- all of which will be exclusive to Premium Online Network subscribers.

4. Free access to future Nicholas of Myra live-streaming events.

5. Prefered subscriber status for any future video-on-demand screenings of Nicholas of Myra the movie or any other related VOD offerings.


The Adventures of Young Nicholas Family Media Series offers children and their parents an entertaining way to share, not just in the joy and wonder of St. Nicholas, but in the magic of childhood and the power of generosity. The stories tell of Young Nicholas' life in Patara -- the city in which he grew up -- and of the many events in his early years that would help shape his destiny as the future Bishop of Myra and Patron Saint to the world. Like never before, the history and folklore of St. Nicholas have been woven together to tell rich tales of inspiration and adventure for children of all ages.

The Adventures of Young Nicholas Family Media Series is a prelude to the upcoming live-action motion picture epic, Nicholas of Myra: The Story of Saint Nicholas. The tales in The Adventures of Young Nicholas take place before the story in the film and provide inspiring entertainment with a message all their own. Originally planned as a six-book series, Part 1 is now available and Part 2 and Part 3 are on their way. As well, the media series now includes a companion music album titled The Adventures of Young Nicholas, A Musical Journey.

BOOK SERIES SYNOPSIS: In late 3rd century Asia Minor, young Nicholas begins his journey to adulthood on a series of adventures, shaping his destiny as the future and legendary Saint Nicholas of Myra. Long before he was called Santa Claus and Sinterklaas, before he became known as the Wonderworker and Gift-giver, even before he was admired as a Bishop and Saint, he was himself a young boy that lived on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, far away from the cold and snow, and that is where the story of Nicholas begins.

The Adventures of Young Nicholas, Part 1 sets the stage for a classic and endearing portrait of a selfless and far from ordinary boy, who would become a legendary man. As a young lad, in late 3rd Century Asia Minor, Nicholas lives a simple life with his parents, in the seaport city of Patara. There, guided by the faith his parents instilled in him, he would search for his future purpose. In The Adventures of Young Nicholas, Part 1, twelve year-old Nicholas is not quite ready to let go of childhood and focus on his promising future. He begins a friendship with Theophanes, a boy who recently moved with his parents to Patara. Through a dangerous ordeal during an innocent game of hide-and-seek, Nicholas and Theophanes would become best friends -- a friendship that would endure many more adventures and one that was destined to become, in many ways, eternal.

MUSIC ALBUM SYNOPSIS: Except for track twelve, featuring the classic What Child is This, all of the original music in The Adventures of Young Nicholas, A Musical Journey was written and composed by masterful composer, Seth Stachowski. By associating Seth's majestic musical motifs with the stories, themes and characters within the books, it will bring a greater appreciation for the entire media series. Whether as a companion to the books, or as a listening experience all its own, the album is sure to give -- both children and adults -- a deeper and more emotional connection to Young Nicholas and his exciting adventures.

May the The Adventures of Young Nicholas Family Media Series deliver a great deal of joy to you and your family, not only at Christmastime, but all year long. The series will also provide added enjoyment to the upcoming epic movie Nicholas of Myra: The Story of Saint Nicholas, once the entire story canvas is finally revealed.


Following Nicholas' exciting tales from childhood in The Adventures of Young Nicholas, the story of his life takes an even more dramatic turn in the upcoming epic film Nicholas of Myra: The Story of Saint Nicholas.

MOVIE SYNOPSIS: In New York City , December 1822, Dr. Clement Moore, a professor of world literature, begins writing a whimsical and soon to be immortalized poem for his six young children by penning the words "'Twas the night before Christmas." Well versed in the lore of old world culture, Moore crafts his poem into a mythical tale about a kind and generous gift-bearer that secretly visits homes on Christmas Eve.

It is while conceiving this poem, An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas, that Moore first meets the ambiguous philanthropist Andrew Livingston and learns of the ancient legend of a gift-bearer from the Greco-Roman Era -- one that he comes to believe may be the origin of all the similar myths throughout the world. Ironically, what Moore soon finds is an epic tale that would someday be lost in the lore that he was about to create. He discovers the surprising story of a mighty empire at the crossroads of history, an enigmatic emperor who would forever leave his mark on the world, and an orphan boy named Nicholas, who one day, in the face of boundless greed and persecution, would prove that not every hero swings a sword. It is the story of Christmas origins -- a story of selflessness and sacrifice -- and the inspiring saga of how one man's legendary generosity transformed him into an iconic saint.

Orphaned as a young teenager, Nicholas inherited his father's vast fortune -- a catalyst to a journey of self-discovery that one day led him to the city of Myra (presently Demre, Turkey). There he came to live a dual life, as a devout bishop by day and an anonymous gift-bearer by night. Few people know of the many legends that surround his namesake, even fewer know the story behind the patron Saint. Nearly three hundred years after Christ's death, the Roman Empire had grown vast. Too large for one emperor to rule alone, it had been divided among four. The persecution of Christians had also burgeoned, culminating in the early part of the Fourth Century -- while Nicholas was the Bishop of Myra. Soon, faithful Christians were either martyred or imprisoned by the four Caesars of Rome, the most ruthless of which was Diocletian who ruled in the East. A countless number suffered under his reign.

It was during this grim era of intolerance and cruelty that the Roman Empire would reach a defining moment in history. After enduring years of imprisonment for his faith, Bishop Nicholas suddenly received word that an improbable crusade had begun. An effort was underway to once again unite the Empire under a single ruler, one who promised to bring an end to the persecution, one who was known as Constantine the Great. With the Empire in conflict around him, Nicholas would then be forced to confront the greed of a corrupt Roman Governor, a deceitful conspiracy against Constantine and his trusted Generals, and an insidious threat to the children of Myra. The stage had been set for events that would bring to pass a turning point in history ... and one of the most endearing legends of all time.



Orphan, saint, immortal … In troubled times it becomes most imperative for art to reflect the goodness in the world. With the lack of quality family entertainment that Hollywood has offered in recent years, there is no better time to tell the story of Nicholas. Epic, as well as inspiring, the sweeping tales will not undo the cherished myth that most of us grew up with, but instead, reinforce the hope and kindness it kindled within us as children. The stories leave no doubt that the iconic gift-giver is for real and that he is more of a sacred part of Holiday tradition than most are aware. He is for people of all ages, all cultures and, really, not just those who celebrate Christmas. The origins of many age-old traditions are brought together in these dramatic and layered tales that will make you believe, once and for all... "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus." - Francis P. Church - 1897


Please help support our company's efforts ... and spread the word too! Then enjoy the book and album with your family this Holiday Season and celebrate the start of the inspirational, family-friendly entertainment that The Adventures of Young Nicholas and Nicholas of Myra: The Story of Saint Nicholas will provide you and your loved ones for many more years to come!

Look for regular updates to continue ...


Happy Eve of Saint Nicholas' Feast Day 2013!



We thank you for your continued interest in Nicholas of Myra: The Story of Saint Nicholas over the many years of development, production and evolution. On this eve of Saint Nicholas Day 2013, we are happy to bring you several updates and developments from the past year, our first year of expansion as a family entertainment and transmedia franchise. A lot has happened this year.

Cover art and sample page from the trade paperback release of The Adventures of Young Nicholas, Part I.

Our first transmedia release, The Adventures of Young Nicholas, Part 1 was released as both a trade paperback and Kindle e-book. The book was then followed by the release of the Limited Edition CD album The Adventures of Young Nicholas, A Musical Journey in late July. Composed by Seth Stachowski, the album was created as a companion to the book series, as well as a stand-alone part of The Adventures of Young Nicholas Family Media Series. A standard MP3 edition of the album was then released in September and is now available for download here at the Amazon MP3 store. However, only 500 limited copies of the CD edition were originally offered for sale when it was announced on our official Facebook page in late July. As of now, the remaining copies will only be available to order online until December 6th (The Feast of Saint Nicholas) at midnight. So, if you don't already have one, or you want to give the collectible CD as a gift this Holiday Season, there is only limited time to order copies at this link, before it's too late.

Cover and jewel case art from the Limited Edition CD album, The Adventures of Young Nicholas, A Musical Journey.

For those of you that have not frequented the official Facebook page at facebook.com/NicholasOfMyraMovie, please make effort to do so thoughout the coming year, in order to be kept apprised of all future announcements and releases. In the meantime, the books and the MP3 album will continue to be available online, exclusively through Amazon. As part of the evolution of the transmedia company, Nicholas of Myra, LLC is producing The Adventures of Young Nicholas Family Media Series as a prelude to the live-action film Nicholas of Myra: The Story of Saint Nicholas. All plans for the release of the live-action film are still underwraps. However, these days, a great deal of information is finally being shared about the production and other related projects on Inside Wonderworker Studios, the revealing new behind-the-scenes show that premiered in October on the recently launched Nicholas of Myra Entertainment channel at youtube.com/NicholasOfMyraOnline.

A recent episode of Inside Wonderworker Studios. Watch this and more episodes in HD on our YouTube channel!

With parts two and three of The Adventures of Young Nicholas books and other transmedia products from the series, new episodes of Inside Wonderworker Studios, the live-action epic motion picture Nicholas of Myra and much more on the way, please continue supporting Nicholas of Myra, LLCs efforts to produce inspirational family entertainment, chronicling the life, lore and legacy of Saint Nicholas of Myra! With enough support, the annual Holiday Season will certainly be an exciting time for great, family-friendly entertainment for many years to come!

Amazon MP3 album promo. Watch in HD on YouTube!


Happy Saint Nicholas Day 2012!



Today, in honor of Saint Nicolas, we bring you some exciting news regarding the future of Nicholas of Myra: The Story of Saint Nicholas.

After last season's successful social networking campaign to grow the fan base for the film, the company behind the production, Nicholas of Myra, LLC, was presented with an exciting proposition on a global scale. The past year has been spent working out the details (much of which cannot be disclosed just yet) that will turn, what was just one movie, into what will be a worldwide, multi-platform, media and entertainment franchise. The goal is to deliver inspiring, family entertainment for years to come, by building a long term relationship with our broad, family and spiritual oriented audience.

This Christmas, is the beginning of it all! Although, details surrounding the release of the movie, Nicholas of Myra, cannot be mentioned now, we are happy to announce that our first release, under this broader creative concept, is a children's book series titled 'The Adventures of Young Nicholas' -- a prelude to the film. The title is planned as a six-part book series for kids that will tie into the movie. 'Part 1' is poised to be released, as a paperback in mid-December, and as an e-book within days of this update. The paperback and e-book (Kindle) will be available for purchase and download online at Amazon.com.

For more info about the book series and future media releases, please visit us on Facebook www.facebook.com/NicholasOfMyraMovie.


Producers Launch International Partnership Campaign For Saint Nicholas Epic


Spearheaded by Director of Marketing and Communications, Dan Argenas, the producers of Nicholas of Myra: The Story of Saint Nicholas have launched a campaign to establish a limited number of mutually beneficial partnerships with various companies worldwide. "We are looking to work with a select number of organizations from around the world that believe in the message that we're trying to convey with this movie," said the film's Producer & Director Gerald Hartke. "We want them to recognize the vast benefits of bringing this unique film to a global audience."

Executive Producer Thomas Mallare sees some great opportunities for potential partnerships that can really make a positive impact on people's lives. "Not only is this film building into an entertainment event, it has profoundly changed the lives of so many of the people that have been working on it from the beginning," stated Mallare. "Based on that and the inspiring feedback we've been receiving from the film's growing fan base around the world, it's quite clear that this project will become more than just another movie for a lot of people."

Click here to view the new promo for the Nicholas of Myra Film Partnership Program, featuring some never-before-seen footage.

For information on how your company or organization may become a partner in the film Nicholas of Myra: The Story of Saint Nicholas, please send your e-mail request to da@nicholasofmyra-movie.com.


Industry Renowned Illustrator Joins Nicholas Of Myra Creative Team


In 1994, at the age of 23, Tony Mauro left his hometown of Buffalo, NY to pursue his dream of working in the movie business as an illustrator. Since that time, he's realized his dream… and then some.
Now, having returned home to Buffalo as an accomplished artist, he will take on a new and inspiring challenge as Graphic Illustrator for the independent feature film Nicholas of Myra: The Story of Saint Nicholas. After graduating from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in 1991 with a degree in visual communications and a major in airbrush art, Mauro spent six years as an airbrush illustrator, eventually and inevitably crossing over into the world of computer illustration.
"Which I fought as much as possible," said Mauro. "Like most traditional illustrators did." He landed in California in November of '94 and began working in the entertainment industry as an illustrator and designer with a studio in Santa Monica. It was there that Tony refined his computer skills and began developing the style he uses today.
For over two and a half years, Tony worked almost exclusively on designing the posters, calendars, book covers, and video box covers for the hit TV show The X-Files. Commercially, Mauro has spent the last 12 years designing movie posters for every major film studio in Hollywood. A few of the campaigns he is credited for designing include Pirates of the Caribbean, The Chronicles of Narnia, M. Knight Shyamalan’s The Village, The Pink Panther, Friday Night Lights, The Hulk, Ladder 49 and Déjà vu starring Denzel Washington.
Mauro’s work also graces numerous video game box covers such as Marvel’s Ultimate Alliance, Medal of Honor, Brothers in Arms, Diablo, WarCraft 2, Clive Barker’s Undying and most recently Spiderman: Friend or Foe. In 2006, he moved back to his hometown of Buffalo to focus more time on his fantasy art, while still freelancing in the entertainment industry. Since returning, Tony has also crossed over into the world of publishing by designing over 200 book covers for such best-selling authors as Stephen King, Glenn Beck, John Connolly, Thomas Harris, Yasmine Galenorn and Eric Van Lustbader.
"I had informed our Marketing and Communications Director, Dan Argenas, that a renowned illustrator was living and working in my hometown of Buffalo," stated Jerry Hartke, Writer and Director of Nicholas of Myra. "Dan quickly reviewed Tony’s body of work and knew immediately that he was the perfect choice to create the graphic art for Nicholas of Myra." Mauro’s dynamic illustrations and poster work showed the insight and authenticity that Argenas knew was needed to portray Hartke’s vision of St. Nicholas of Myra.

"Tony got the basis and direction of the film's story the very first time we sat down together to discuss the project," said Hartke. "He understood it was going to be a change of pace from the darker art he had been creating in his recent fantasy work, but that we still wanted to convey the many layers of drama to our story. He'll be designing and illustrating all of our poster and cover art for the film. I can't wait to see what he comes up with." Hartke clearly feels fortunate to have Mauro’s involvement in the film. "Tony’s also a fellow Buffalonian!" added the director. "He’s a local success story and I’m honored to have him as a part of our creative team." "I am very excited to be a part of this amazing and talented Buffalo team," stated Mauro. "And, to be the first film group to tell the epic tale of St. Nicholas, we have a daunting task ahead of us. We are charged with creating the images that will endure beyond the film and be a part of people’s memories for years to come. I am really stoked as we begin to create images that children and adults who love St. Nicholas will share forever."


Independent Film Director Welcomes Working Relationship With Sony


Director Gerald Hartke on location in the Allegany National Forest for the film Nicholas of Myra: The Story of Saint Nicholas.

For Gerald Hartke, the Writer and Director of Nicholas of Myra, the advent of Sony digital motion picture technology was the culmination of years spent working with analog video cameras and recorders to create his early production work. "Back in the 90's when I was working as an event videographer and filmmaking hobbyist, I had heard some talk that Sony was committed to developing digital high-definition video cameras to be used by George Lucas on his new Star Wars films," said Hartke. "Not only was that achieved, they also acquired the groundbreaking Vegas video software platform and have since developed it into a professional non-linear editing application." Now that technology is well into the digital age, Hartke says he really can't think of another company that has impacted digital filmmaking as much as Sony, adding, "From shooting in HD to editing with Vegas Pro, we've been utilizing Sony technology on our production from day one." Hartke's appreciation goes deeper than an affinity for digital media over traditional film. "If it weren't for Sony pushing the envelope with digital cinema for movies like Star Wars: Episode II nearly a decade ago, I probably would never have gotten the chance to make Nicholas of Myra."

Developed to give his digitally photographed Nicholas of Myra the look of traditional film epics, Director Gerald Hartke's HDMAX image process is achieved using Sony Vegas Pro software.

Nicholas of Myra Executive Producer Thomas Mallare and Marketing Communications Director Dan Argenas both felt that a mutually beneficial opportunity had presented itself for the project and for Sony. "Based on Jerry's innovative and nearly exclusive use of their technology on our film, Dan suggested we approach Sony and try to work together with them," said Mallare. Michael Bryant, Director of Product Marketing for Sony Creative Software, agreed that this is a unique opportunity for his company. "We were extremely excited to hear about the production of the film Nicholas of Myra," said Bryant. "We see this film as an inspiration and a bellwether opportunity for Sony." Encouraged by Bryant's enthusiasm for the project, the film's star, Matthew Melser, had this to say, "I'm confident I can speak for everyone in the cast and crew by stating that we hope the relationship between Nicholas of Myra and Sony continues to grow and develop throughout the rest of the filmmaking process."


Nicholas of Myra, LLC Selects Worldwide Marketing & Communications Director


Nicholas of Myra, LLC has selected Dan Argenas, President and Principal of EDI Marcom, Inc. to become the worldwide Director of Marketing & Communications for the film Nicholas of Myra: The Story of Saint Nicholas. “We are extremely excited to have someone with Dan’s experience and talent on board," states Gerald Hartke, Producer and Director of the film. "Dan's energy and excitement for our project is evident whenever he speaks about the film. He will be creating public and investor relations programs as well as developing partnerships with established companies that will help us deliver our film and create the industry buzz needed for the project."

With a 25 year marketing communications pedigree that includes public relations, strategic marketing, as well as extensive advertising and promotional experience for agencies as a Vice-President of Marketing & Communications, Argenas brings a large number of solid relationships in the professional video hardware and software industry to the table. For the last nine years, he has been working as an EDI Marcom consultant, focusing mainly on the professional video, film and entertainment industries. Since 1997, he has worked directly with the Wedding & Event Videographers Association; the world’s largest trade association for professional videographers, and with industry leaders the likes of Sony, Panasonic, Canon, JVC, Adobe, Grass Valley and Apple helping to develop innovations that took videography and editing from clunky VCR tape-driven cams to the sleek and sophisticated digital & DSLR technology that the television, sports and film industries have embraced today. In recent years, Argenas has developed projects for the marketing divisions of Universal Studios, City Walk, Disney and assisted with Hard Rock’s 25th Anniversary promotional campaign. He also is involved in supporting emerging digital production professionals by working with schools like Full Sail University in Orlando Florida to help mold the next great videographer/producer/filmmaker.

“I was blown away when I was first introduced to the Nicholas of Myra project," said Argenas. "It still amazes me that Jerry and his team are the first group to bring this important historical and magical story to the screen. The story of the life of this real man, St Nicholas, will completely change the way we and our children think of Santa Claus and the meaning of the holiday….the myth will now become fact…and transcend both secular and non-secular audiences while enhancing the Santa Claus we know today.” Argenas goes on to say, “The entire Nicholas of Myra team impresses me daily with their professionalism and raw talent when it comes to the making of this film. These are not studio seasoned pros and veteran actors…they are, for the most part, everyday people who had a dream to bring his story to the world with a burning passion to make this film an informative and entertaining story. Jerry's innovative use of digital cinema technology has delivered film content with quality far exceeding any previous independent production of this scope and expense to date. I am proud to be a part of this important and historic event!”


EXCLUSIVE: Opening Scene Now Showing


The opening scene of Nicholas of Myra: The Story of Saint Nicholas is now available for viewing on the media page. Set in New York in December of 1822, the scene unfolds as Dr. Clement Moore has arrived at the St. Nicholas Orphanage to meet the proprietor, Mr. Andrew Livingston. It is the eve of St. Nicholas' Feast Day and Moore peers curiously through the doorway of a room where he finds Livingston immersed in a moment with the orphan children. The two minute clip features the talented performances of stage veterans Vincent O'Neill as Moore and Saul Elkin as Livingston, as well as a solid cast of child performers, all appearing for their first time on screen.

The Quick Time movie clip is available here for streaming and download in multiple screen resolutions, including HD 1080p.


Nicholas of Myra Website Gets New Look As Director Prepares Fans For Exciting Updates


With a new look and some exciting updates to come, the official Nicholas of Myra motion picture website was re-launched today. "Aside from giving the site some new polish, we also wanted to make it a bit more user-friendly," said the film's director, Gerald Hartke. "The greatest example of which would be the site navigation menu that is now accessible to visitors on every menu page."

According to Hartke, more advances are on the way for fans of the film, including direct tie-ins with Facebook and Twitter, as well as a new director's blog that will keep them informed of the film's progress on a weekly basis. "We want fans to know how much we appreciate their enthusiasm," added Hartke. "So we've decided to take steps to demonstrate that fact by giving them more of a window into the process of making the movie -- right through to the premiere."

Fans of the film, make sure to return here next week as the first in a series of exciting new updates is announced.


Digital Filmmaking Innovations Help Director Bring Story Of Saint Nicholas To Life


From cost effective digital cameras to the proprietary HDMAX image process developed specifically for Nicholas of Myra: The Story of Saint Nicholas, modern digital technology provides innovative filmmakers the tools to create high-concept films independent of the Hollywood studio system. "We've shot our entire film on high definition digital tape," said Nicholas of Myra creator and director, Gerald Hartke. "Utilizing the HDMAX shooting process that I began developing in 2005, we've been able to achieve a rich, eye-catching look that will be indistinguishable from traditional film to the general audience."

Director Gerald Hartke's proprietary HDMAX shooting process was developed to give his digitally photographed motion picture the look of traditional epic films, as demonstrated in this actual still frame from Nicholas of Myra. To view the image full screen, click here.

"Like many industries in America right now, the motion picture industry is trying to be more cost conscious," stated Hartke. Yet, according to him, many independent filmmakers do not realize the capabilities of the digital tools that are already available to them. "The fact is, the technology we are using on Nicholas of Myra is affordable to most filmmakers. I think all of them would agree that the less resources you spend on technology, the more you can spend on story and creativity."

While a passenger on a merchant vessel at sea, young Nicholas (Michael Dentico) battles a raging storm in an effort to reach the lost crew in a scene from Nicholas of Myra: The Story of Saint Nicholas.

As the creator of an independently financed epic film, Hartke hopes that more artists will aim high conceptually while trying to get the most production value out of their budgets. He feels that the industry as a whole will benefit. "I've heard from a lot of people who use to go to the movies on a regular basis," he said. "As far as entertainment value goes, many of them felt as though they weren't getting what they payed for anymore with the price of admission." However, Hartke says that the overall historic box-office performance of 2009 proved that people will still go to the movies when it's worth it, adding, "Whether you spend two hundred million dollars to make a movie, or just a couple million, you need to give the audience their money's worth. With Nicholas of Myra, we aim to give the audience even more than they're expecting."


Gatlinburg Santa Festival Gets Sneak-Peek At Epic Nicholas Of Myra


On Sunday, March 14th, Celebrate Santa Festival organizers presented an "Evening with Nicholas of Myra" at the River Terrace convention center in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The purpose of the two hour event was to have an in-depth behind-the-scenes discussion about the film with writer/director Gerald Hartke, as well as to give attendees a sneak-peek at nearly fifteen minutes of never-before-seen footage.

Writer/Director Gerald Hartke discusses his film Nicholas of Myra with attendees of the Celebrate Santa Festival in Gatlinburg.

"When I heard people talking about the film," said Jay Rumple, coordinator of the night's event, "I thought why not just contact Jerry and see if he'd be interested in coming to the festival." Rumple took the initiative and made the phone call. Hartke was more than flattered. "I've been using a phrase quite a bit lately when I talk about how this all happened," he said. "And I'll say it again, absolutely, I was honored. For some time I've wanted an opportunity to let the people in organizations like Celebrate Santa know our intentions with the film. And that not one of them is to undo the magic of Santa Claus."

Saint Nicholas historians and devotees listen to Director Hartke talk about how the epic story was first conceived in December of 2001.

Hartke was then asked to preview some of the movie at the Celebrate Santa Festival. "I was a little concerned because the film is not going to be what most people expect to see in a movie about Santa Claus," he said. "Without seeing the whole film, it'll be hard to understand how it all fits into the mythos." Although it's an historical film, Hartke insists that the magic of Santa Claus is woven throughout the story. "I finally decided to show the group seven scenes from different parts of the film that I felt conveyed that magic," said Hartke. "The reception was very positive. The only thing that seemed to disappoint them was that they didn't get to see more."


The director signs posters for excited fans following his presentation.



The presentation was followed by a question and answer session where individuals got a chance to ask the tough questions of the Director. "They didn't pull any punches," stated Hartke. "And that was good. I didn't want them walking away with any doubts about the validity of the film." One question he had for the Claus's was also answered. "I asked one of them... why do you hold a Santa Claus convention in March?" Hartke then felt a little embarrassed after finding out that the answer was an obvious one. "Acting as if my question had been rhetorical, Santa politely informed me that he is extremely busy from November 1st through December 24th... I guess that's one answer I should've known! Right?!"

Director And Star Honored At Santa Claus Convention In Smokey Mountains Of Tennessee


Although it was nearly Saint Patrick's Day on Saturday, March 13th, it was hundreds of Saint Nicholas's that took center stage in Gatlinburg, Tennessee that afternoon. As a kickoff event to the the 2nd Annual Celebrate Santa Festival, the Holly and Shamrock parade featured honored guests Gerald Hartke and Matthew Mesler, director and star of Nicholas of Myra: The Story of Saint Nicholas, as Grand Marshals.

Nicholas of Myra director Gerald Hartke and star Matthew Mesler were honored guests in Gatlinburg, Tennessee as Grand Marshals of the city's annual Holly and Shamrock parade on March 13th.

"Matt and I were thrilled to be invited and to participate in the festival," said Hartke. Also hosted by the city of Gatlinburg, the three day long Celebrate Santa Festival ran March 14th - 16th. The convention of Claus's offered Hartke the opportunity to speak to the men and women who have devoted their lives to the iconic saint. "We gave them a little sneak-peek at the movie and I got to explain a lot about our intentions with the film," stated Hartke. "These guys are certain to be our harshest critics. So if they're already this excited about the movie, then I'm hoping it's going to be something very special to many people across the country and around the world."

Hundreds of Santa Claus's from all over the United States participated in the Holly and Shamrock parade, part of the 2nd Annual Celebrate Santa Festival and Convention in Gatlinburg.

During the parade, rainy weather couldn't dampen the spirit of Saint Nicholas as thousands of spectators lined the streets.

To view the Charter Media regional television promo for Gatlinburg's Celebrate Santa Festival, click here (Windows Media player required).


Nicholas Of Myra Movie Attempts To Break Boundaries For Independent Films


Shot entirely in the United States, specifically within a two-hundred mile radius of Western New York, the epic Nicholas of Myra: The Story of Saint Nicholas has been often promoted as an independent film of unprecedented scope. The three hour and twenty minute, wide-screen, motion picture drama is attempting to tell the never-before-told life story of one of the most recognizable icons in the world. As far as bold, creative ventures go, the high-concept production is as audacious as they come. From the shores of the Mediterannean to the heart of the Middle East, from the late Third Century A.D. to 1822, the production value of Nicholas of Myra has the potential to erase the line between Hollywood and Independent films.

As a teenage boy, young Nicholas (Michael Dentico) sails across the Mediterranean on a fateful journey to Alexandria, Egypt in a scene from Nicholas of Myra: The Story of Saint Nicholas.

"What we set out to do when the project began in 2006," stated the film's Writer/Director Gerald Hartke, "was to create something extraordinary with the purpose of inspiring the audience -- as they seldom expect to be these days by contemporary Hollywood fare." Hartke insists that recent Box Office successes like Avatar have proven that movie theatres are not in a decline, but that they have simply lacked quality entertainment for audiences to get excited over. "Nicholas of Myra is certainly one of those films that people around the world are already hyping," said Hartke. "Now we have to deliver. We are pursuing all avenues to get this film to the audience that has been waiting patiently."

Nicholas accompanies a caravan into Palestine in this shot, one of more than three hundred visual effects being created for the film.

With harsh Western New York weather forcing production indoors since last October, Hartke and Visual Effects Supervisor Paul Mergenhagen have been working steadily to complete more than three hundred visual effects shots for the film. "This is not a special effects driven film by any means, but in order to transform Western New York into Third and Fourth Century Asia Minor for nearly three hours of the film's total running time, it obviously requires some serious movie magic." Utilizing modern digital, as well as traditional optical, effects techniques, plus a little ingenuity, Hartke and Mergenhagen are pushing the boundaries of what's to be expected from a motion picture that costs ten to twenty times less than the typical period film produced by larger studios. "The story is the most important element of the overall picture," said Hartke. "But the visual effects allow us to create a believable world to tell the story in. If it weren't for present-day digital technology, this film would have easily cost tens of millions to produce."


Mesler And Hartke To Be Grand Marshals At Upcoming "Celebrate Santa Festival" Parade


Plans are now underway to showcase the film Nicholas of Myra in the Holly & Shamrock parade of the "Celebrate Santa Festival" in Gatlinburg, Tennessee next March. The film's star Matthew Mesler and Director Gerald Hartke have been honored with an invitation to be Grand Marshals for the festivities, and both will appear on a Nicholas of Myra themed float. Last March the parade drew over 20,000 spectators on a Tuesday afternoon. Next year's parade will be moved to Saturday with attendance expected to be much higher (estimated at 60,000 to 75,000) due to weekend scheduling, increased advertising, and cross promotion with the film. After learning of the cooperative efforts between the festival and Nicholas of Myra, the City of Gatlinburg informed festival organizers that the city would "pull out all the stops" in promoting this special event.

Please check out the festival website featuring Nicholas of Myra links and video at www.celebratesantafestival.com. For additional info on the festival please visit http://celebratesanta.com.


EXCLUSIVE: Director Shares Creative Process In Designing Historical Costume


Making a film about the historical Saint Nicholas of Myra, while maintaining some recognizable aspects of the modern-day Christmas icon, became an aesthetic as well as a creative challenge for Nicholas of Myra Writer/Director Gerald Hartke. “We needed to design a look for Nicholas -- who was actually a 4th-century Greco-Roman bishop -- that would fuse the historical with the mythical, ” said Hartke. “I believe the concept we came up with brings together much of the cultural influences of the past and present, without crossing the boundary into the realm of folklore.” Although Hartke admits that not all historians will agree with his artistic interpretation, he insists that historical details are the driving force behind all of the creative decisions made on the film. “I spent several years researching the project,” stated the director. “Every artistic element is based on what is known about the origins of Saint Nicholas and the period in which he lived.”


Hartke said that research was crucial when it came to designing the look of Nicholas’ bishop costume. “People all over the world recognize the long beard and red and white vestments. The image has even influenced the evolution and appearance of other Christmas icons across the globe, including our Santa Claus.” As for historical details regarding the attire of early bishops, Hartke explained that he found little to go on. “We had to draw a lot from reason when designing the costume,” he added. “Most of the historical artwork depicting early Christianity was painted hundreds and sometimes more than a thousand years after Nicholas’ time,” Hartke informed. “We had no legitimate visual reference for inspiration. We only knew that he was Greek -- and we knew where and when he lived, but Christianity was still in its infancy and had somewhat of an unofficial structure at the time.”


Star Matthew Mesler in costume and on location in upstate New York (photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes).


Ultimately, the director based the final design of the bishop’s costume on two main conclusions that he drew from history. “The Bishop of Myra certainly wouldn’t have been dressed in ornate garments as depicted in artwork of the Middle Ages,” noted Hartke. “His vestments would have been basic and of Judaic influence -- the evolution of which can be seen in contemporary Coptic and Greek Orthodox culture. Secondly, keeping true to the color red was not as much of a stretch as I thought. Historically, red was a prominent color in Greco-Roman society. Adopted by Christians, it became a reminder of The Christ’s sacrifice (or the blood of Christ) and representative of all willing martyrs.” After putting a great deal of thought and care into the costume design, Hartke is hopeful that Saint Nicholas devotees will embrace the familiar yet original look of Bishop Nicholas of Myra. “As the historical predecessor to the modern-day icon, he had to look authentic to the period and still be recognizable to a contemporary worldwide audience. Fortunately, I think we accomplished both.”

To watch an on-set video interview with Nicholas of Myra star Matthew Mesler, go to the media page.


Veteran Stage Actors Elkin And O’Neill Discuss Their Roles In New Web Documentary


“Since we went into production on Nicholas of Myra: The Story of Saint Nicholas, I had been concerned about the opening scenes which actually were to be filmed toward the end of shooting,” said Writer/Director Gerald Hartke. “The scenes are set in the early 20th century and involve the characters of Andrew Livingston and Dr. Clement Moore. I decided to write the scenes -- and more at the end -- to provide bookends for the rest of the film. I knew early on that the characters would have to be played by strong, seasoned actors.”

As the shooting schedule for the scenes finally went into preparation last January, Hartke realized that he needed to cast the roles as soon as possible. “I’d always held on to the possibility of two veteran stage actors playing the integral characters,” he noted. “But the question was, would they be willing and able to work in the medium of film?”

Within two months time, the iconic duo that Hartke had in mind, Western New York’s own Saul Elkin and Vincent O’Neill, were in costume and on location, filling two of the most important roles in the film. Be sure to visit the media page to view the all-new web documentary Filming The Bookends, highlighting on-set interviews with actors Elkin and O’Neill discussing their involvement in the film, as well as their perspective on the overall scope of the production.


Saint Nicholas Society And The Worldwide Web Help Spread Word About Nicholas Of Myra


Since early 2006, word of the independent film epic, Nicholas of Myra: The Story of Saint Nicholas, has been gaining momentum on the worldwide web. From forums to websites, the motion picture has become an entertainment, religious and historical topic of discussion across the Internet. “In early 2006, I was contacted by the founder of the UK / USA Saint Nicholas Society, Canon Dr. James Rosenthal,” said Writer/Director Gerald Hartke. “He had actually found out about our film on the Internet and was immediately interested in flying to the U.S. from his home in London, England to visit the production facilities.”

Following Canon Rosenthal’s visit to Wonderworker Studios in June of 2006, Hartke says that word of mouth began to accelerate. “We suddenly appeared on discussion forums and related websites, as well as gained web traffic for our own site from across the United States, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Italy, France, Russia and even as far as New Zealand,” stated Hartke. “It was amazing how fast and far word did spread.” For the past two years, Canon Rosenthal has been graciously spreading word of the film during his overseas travels. “The funny thing is,” added Hartke, “I haven’t even been able to read what most of the foreign websites are saying about the movie!” By January of 2008, Nicholas of Myra had been highlighted on the front page of the most prominent site in the world regarding the film’s subject. “The Saint Nicholas Center (www.stnicholascenter.org) is operated by Carol Myers, who has become a welcomed proponent of the film,” noted Hartke. “I believe her site receives around a million hits a year from all over the world. Needless to say, it has helped draw attention to us.”

Meanwhile, Canon Rosenthal continues to support the film internationally and has even discussed holding an event in London, where the motion picture would make its overseas premiere. “We owe Canon Jim a great deal of thanks,” said Hartke. “Although, I sometimes wonder if it was the power of the Internet, or a greater power that brought him to us.”

To listen to an audiocast of Saint Nicholas Society founder Canon Dr. James Rosenthal and Nicholas of Myra star Matthew Mesler, discussing the future of the film and the efforts of the Society around the world, click here.


EXCLUSIVE: Wonderworker Studios Reveals New Behind-The-Scenes Images


It is not often that an independent film company would attempt to tell a story as vast in scope as Wonderworker Studio’s Nicholas of Myra: The Story of Saint Nicholas. It is even more unlikely that any independent film company has ever covered such a wide variety of locations for a single motion picture -- much less within a 200-mile radius. “People didn’t believe it was possible to do this in Western New York,” said Gerald Hartke, the writer and director of the film. “And that made me want to try it even more.” Although the motion picture is being produced in Western New York, Hartke is adamant that it will look as though it could have been shot at locations around the globe. “At first it was not an easy sell to potential investors, but now that people are beginning to see the results, it doesn’t seem so unbelievable.”

As momentum builds for Nicholas of Myra’s end of year premiere, Hartke hopes to keep raising the bar of expectation for the film by strategically releasing images to the public. “As the year progresses, we’ll be revealing more and more of the scope of what we’ve been shooting. However, I’ve always disliked it when imagery from a film is carelessly revealed before the film is even shown in theaters. Many times it can spoil the story for the audience.” With the best interests of the audience at heart, Hartke promises that is not going to be the case with Nicholas of Myra. When asked to comment on the newly released behind-the-scenes images from the film (see below), Hartke was pointed. “No matter how revealing the images that we show you seem to be, rest assured, they were chosen because they reveal nothing that would compromise the power of this untold story. And they only scratch the surface visually of what you’re going to see in the finished film.”

Director and Cinematographer Gerald Hartke sets up a sweeping cinematic shot for the film Nicholas of Myra: The Story of Saint Nicholas (photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes).

While on location in Western New York, Nicholas of Myra star Matthew Mesler and co-star Jamie Elvey take a few moments to rehearse for an upcoming scene (photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes).

Cast members prepare to shoot a scene set in the early 4th century, in which a small caravan ventures across the rocky terrain of a Middle Eastern valley (photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes).

At an undisclosed location in Holland, NY, the film’s cast and crew prep the set while invited guests look on (photo by Gerald Hartke, Sr.).

Wearing period costuming, a group of Western New York equestrians awaits the director’s call for action (photo by Gerald Hartke, Sr.).

Matthew Mesler rehearses his first scene together with co-star Robert Vincent Jones, who portrays the pivotal 4th-century Roman Emperor, Constantine The Great (photo by Gerald Hartke, Sr.).

Producer Christopher Santucci monitors a “beauty shot” of a classical Greek building in Buffalo, NY (photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes).

Between takes at the historic Albright-Knox building in North Buffalo, actor James Fauvell listens in as Director Gerald Hartke discusses the scene with star Matthew Mesler (photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes).

Moving into position for a wide-angle shot of the building, two cast members ascend the sprawling front steps of Albright-Knox (photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes).

On location at an authentic 19th-century village in upstate New York, the production crew sets up a mobile camera unit to capture a series of dynamic shots for the opening of the film (photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes).

During the film’s snow-filled opening sequence, the driver of a horse-drawn sleigh makes his way through the streets of 1820’s New York (photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes).

Executive Producer Beth Jordan gets ready for her cameo appearance as an early 19th-century New Yorker (photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes).

To view two behind-the-scenes photo montages featuring music from the film, go to the media page.


EXCLUSIVE: An Interview With Nicholas Of Myra Star Matthew Mesler


Since being cast in the title role for the epic motion picture Nicholas of Myra: The Story of Saint Nicholas, actor Matthew Mesler has been able to maintain a quiet and simple life, residing in rural Western New York. That was until last December, when it was officially announced that Nicholas of Myra, the film he’s been steadily working on for more than two years, would finally make its highly anticipated debut in 2008.

Actor Matthew Mesler (above) portrays Nicholas of Myra, the historical Greek bishop who became immortalized as a beloved Christian saint (photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes).

The devoted husband and father of two now faces the prospect of global recognition, as he prepares for a year-long marketing campaign to promote what is certain to become an international event when the film premieres in Western New York next Christmas. Recently, Mesler agreed to be interviewed for the purposes of this article. During the interview, he shared insight into his start as a screen actor, his enthusiasm for the role that he refers to as “an opportunity of a lifetime” and the life changing experience the role has become. Below is an edited transcript of that interview...

Having started out as a stand-in for lead actor James Van Der Beek on the Warner Brothers television series “Dawson’s Creek,” what did that first experience teach you about acting?

Mesler: Well, it taught me about the production process and how intricate it is, about camerawork and certain looks you give for different angles. As far as specifically about acting... it taught me that I didn’t know much at all (laughing). That’s the truth. I was kind of overwhelmed by the size of the production. I never knew how much went into it.

What made you decide to continue?

Mesler: Getting to work with actors my age, like Katie Holmes. I realized I didn’t know enough about acting. We were really just kids, but they had this ability to deliver their lines in a realistic way. It inspired me to get more experience as an actor. That was probably the most relevant thing.

During some of your other experiences, you got to work with the late John Ritter. Tell me about that.

Mesler: It was a Hallmark television movie called “Holy Joe.” I got to act out a scene with him as his son. It was an emotional scene and we actually had to hug like father and son at one point. It was a pretty cool experience.

Even though you only worked with him that one time, did you learn anything from him about the business?

Mesler: You know, I did. I noticed that the crew had a lot of respect for him. He didn’t have that “big-star” mentality. He treated everybody on par with himself and he loved to make people laugh. I took that to heart. I guess that’s really the most important thing I took from that experience.

Had you ever worked on a historical drama before “Nicholas of Myra”?

Mesler: I worked on the pilot episode of a Civil War television drama called “Glory, Glory.” That was a big-budget costume drama. But now I can honestly say that the budget really didn’t matter. I see the quality of what we are accomplishing with Nicholas of Myra and I believe the production value is right up there.

What was the first thing that drew your interest toward playing the role of Saint Nicholas of Myra?

Mesler: First of all, hearing the word “Saint.” In my opinion, to have the word “Saint” before your name means you fulfilled some pretty high expectations in life. Aside from that, I really didn’t know much about Saint Nicholas -- and that got me even more interested. Once I read the script, I was blown away. Not just because it was a great story, but because I knew this was a role for an A-list actor. I mean, who am I? (sarcastically) I’m nobody. And yet there I was, being offered the role of a lifetime.

In the film, you play Nicholas from the age of 19 to 63. Tell me about the transformation you undergo throughout the film.

Mesler: Well, I have naturally light brown hair and green eyes. So I needed to permanently color my hair and get dark brown contacts to match the look Jerry (the Director) wanted. Other than the hair coloring and contacts, the early scenes that I appear in aren’t too bad. It’s not until Nicholas prematurely ages in the dungeon that I end up having to spend four hours in the make-up chair. I’m bearded and gray through a majority of the film.

Is there anything unpleasant about the lengthy make-up process for those scenes?

Mesler: Spirit gum (snickering). It basically glues hair to your face and makes your eyes water. But then I look at the overall picture. And I’m reminded of how lucky I am to even be able to complain about the process that I have to go through to play this character. By the end of the movie, Nicholas evolves into the iconic image that everyone will recognize. I’m honored to be in the role.

What do you think you will take from this experience?

Mesler: People have already approached me, thankful that we’re making this movie. It’s a humbling experience. What I can take from this, comes right from the character in the script. Nicholas isn’t perfect. He struggles with his faith after loss, especially family losses, as we all do. But his faith endures. To him, giving is everything. ---