Stan Original film Christmas Ransom may invite comparisons to the streamer’s last festive collaboration with Every Cloud Productions, Christiaan Van Vuuren’s 2020 comedy A Sunburnt Christmas, but a lot has changed behind the scenes in the past two years.
While both films share the writing trio of Gretel Vella, Elliot Vella and Tim Walker, as well as producers Fiona Eagger, Deb Cox, and Mike Jones, one was made under lockdown conditions in South Australia, with the other taking place in an unrestricted Western Sydney.
In Adele Vuko’s 2022 film, Matt Okine stars as the struggling owner of beloved toy store Harrington and Sons, who is taken for ransom when a pair of bumbling criminals hijack the store.
After a pair of shoplifting kids stumble into the heist, they are forced to team up with a heavily pregnant security officer (Miranda Tapsell) to save Christmas.
Every Cloud Productions CEO and executive producer Drew Grove told IF production was “a much smoother” experience this time around, but acknowledged his company had now found itself in the position of “being experts” on all things Christmas.
“Northern hemisphere Christmas movies are really fun but the winter wonderland setting is a stark contrast to our normally sweltering Christmas summer days,” he said.
“We were really keen to explore some of our own Christmas stories and some of the make up of what Christmas means to us.”
The pair have continued in advisory roles, with Jones and Shraddha Gatiya becoming partners in addition to their roles as head of content and finance director, respectively.
Grove said having Cox and Eagger as executive producers on Christmas Ransom had helped the company enter its next phase.
“We’re continuing the legacy that they built across the past decade,” he said.
“There’s been a really smooth transition over the first year with them being there every step of the way to provide mentoring and guidance.
“It’s been a fabulous experience and I’m really thankful for them what they have down across the last four months.”
Further changes to the company were announced in October in the form of an acquisition by Queensland-based business Global City Group, which installed its newly appointed CEO and former Screen Queensland chief creative officer Jo Dillon.
For Grove, Dillon’s appointment was another opportunity to be bolstered by the “incredible female producers and leaders within the industry”.
“It’s status quo, but lucky that I’ve got these sort of people that I can draw on for support and guidance,” he said.
According to Grove, Every Cloud has a slew of projects in active development heading into the new year, having spent time nurturing relationships with domestic commissioners and rest-of-world distributors throughout 2022.
While unable to reveal specific details, he said the company was keen to further champion diversity within the industry through productions such as Christmas Ransom, on which 80 per cent of HODs were female.
“It was our first experience working with the fabulous producer Naomi Just and Adele Vuko, who is a first-time feature director,” he said.
“We’ve long been admirers of [Vuko’s] work and she’s the ultimate slashee, in being a brilliant writer, director, and actor, so it was a super rich experience working with both of them.
“When Fiona and Deb started the business more than 10 years ago, they really set out to address gender representation, and inclusive production, both in front and behind the camera and in the protagonists of stories.
“So it’s really part of the Every Cloud DNA and always has been how we do business.”
Christmas Ransom is now available to stream on Stan.