Wonderhood Studios Is Encouraging People To Switch Off This Festive Period

It’s been another tough year. Another tough year with a huge chunk of time spent on video calls. From taking fewer than 20 steps a day as you roll from one call to the next, to struggling to contribute as you dial in virtually to an in-person meeting – the struggles feel all too familiar.

'Twas the call before Christmas from Wonderhood Studios on Vimeo.

And that’s why we all need a well-deserved break. 

This festive season, Wonderhood Studios is launching a film encouraging people to switch off between Christmas and the New Year. The film was directed by Joe and Tim of Odelay Films and written by Jack Croft & Stacey Bird of Wonderhood Studios. Featuring actor Kerry Howard and actor and comedian Daniel Barker, the film tells the story of a man who worked so hard he trapped himself in a video call.

Titled ‘Twas the call before Christmas’, the short film opens on a family doing the final touches on their Christmas tree. The mother soon realises her husband is taking longer than anticipated to surface from his call and goes looking for him. Gary explains he is in fact ‘stuck’ – he was “on a call, then the next minute he was in a call.” In the next few scenes, we see the couple comically trying to live out their lives with this new limitation. They play virtual charades, have awkward virtual sex, and have heated arguments over a screen – ultimately ending in Gary being put on mute. In the final scene on Christmas Day, Gary is propped up at the family meal, secluded from the buzz of his family around him.

Jack and Stacey, Creative Directors at Wonderhood Studios, said:

“We’ve uttered the words ‘I’m stuck on a call’ far too many times this year. So, the thought of Christmas Day trapped in a box on a video call felt truly terrifying. The film is meant to make the average worker-from-homer shudder and encourage bosses to hang up the headset for the festive season. We loved working with Tim and Joe to bring the script to life in all its bleakness.”

Commenting on directing the film, Joe and Tim said:

From the moment we read the script from Jack and Stacey we knew we wanted to write on and direct this film. We’re all guilty of dipping into work emails and calls, without fully appreciating the often intangible ways it can affect family life. The joy of Christmas is so fleeting that it’s important to be as present as possible for all of it. It’s a slippery slope from one last email to suddenly you’ve missed the tree going up and the kids are in bed and it’s Boxing Day and you’re dealing with overflowing recycling bins”.

The film uses dark comedy to reflect the struggles many of us have felt as we adapted to working from home throughout the pandemic, with the lines between work and personal life becoming blurred. The spot ends with the line ‘Remember to switch off this Christmas’ – encouraging people to log off so they can enjoy spending time with their loved ones this festive period.

The cast were intrinsic to creating the mood, so the team was delighted when actors Kerry Howard and Daniel Barker both joined the project, bringing their inimitable styles to the film.

Joe and Tim added:

We’ve been huge fans of Kerry Howard for a long time and knew she’d be great for the frustrated character we needed from the Mum. Likewise, with Daniel Barker, we were already big fans of his enthusiastic delivery, which really plays well against Kerry’s stress”.

The film is set to a new arrangement of ‘Carol of the Bells’ by Sam Foster of Foster & Foster Music with vocals provided by the Bristol University Singers and was conducted by Elinor Cooper. 


Creative Directors:                Jack Croft & Stacey Bird

Chief Creative Officer:          Aidan McClure

Producer:                               Nikki Holbrow

Production Company:           Odelay Films

Director:                                  Joe and Tim              

Exec. Producer:                       Prudence Beecroft        

Production Manager:            Cesci Shepherd              

Production Assistant:            Chelsea Jones-Alleyne     

1st Assistant Director:           Oliver Waters                        

Director of Photography:      Tom Turley                

Sound Recordist:                    Tom Bartlett              

Gaffer:                                      Pete Musgrave                     

Electrician:                                Ben Desousa            

Art Director:                             Jessica Berry                        

Art Department assistant:   Freya Hollis               

Hair & Make-up Artist:         Aston Davies 

Editor:                                      Saam Hodivala @ Shift Post

Assistant Editor:                     Adam Buckmaster

Black Kite Post Producer:   Tamara Mennell; Bruce Langfield

VFX 2D Lead                             Marcus Moffatt

2D Supervisor                          Paul Wilmot 

Grade                                        Tom Mangham @ Black Kite 

Music:                                        Foster & Foster Music

Bristol University Singers, conducted by Elinor Cooper

Sound Design + Mix              Dugal Macdiarmid

King Lear Music & Sound

With thanks to:                       Westbay House, Westgate-on-Sea, Kent

SHL Film Lighting

SL Vision

Andy Jenks and Christchurch Studios


Felicity:                                       Kerry Howard (Curtis Brown)

Gary:                                           Daniel Barker (PBJ Management)

Lucas:                                         Stellan Powell (Alphabet Management)

Martha:                                       Margot Powell (Alphabet Management)

Grandma:                                  Julie Lewis

Grandpa:                                   Jerry Lewis

Christmas Party Guest:         Alex Austin 

Christmas Party Guest:         Darcy Gilbert

Christmas Party Guest:         Eddy Yan

Christmas Party Guest:         Holly Georgious 

Christmas Party Guest:         Lawrence Slater 

Christmas Party Guest:         Sophie Lewis

Source: Wonderhood Studios

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