SALT LAKE CITY — Catholics and LDS members often work together on humanitarian projects throughout the world, but for the first time, the two faiths have collaborated on a film.
"Christmas for a Dollar" is more than a heart-warming story — it has been an opportunity to build bridges between Catholics and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The story behind the movie took place in 1934, when the Kamp family only has $1 to celebrate Christmas.
Many families struggle with finances, so Christmas becomes filled with stress instead of joy. This film, the producers said, sends a message about gifts of the heart.
"We had the same mission in what we wanted to produce in films, and showed them the script. They liked it too, and so we decided to co-produce this one," said Ron Brough, executive producer for "Christmas for a Dollar."
The goal of a shared message also helped members of the two faiths come together with shared spiritual experiences.
"(We had) the opportunity to share our faith stories with each other on the set with the crew, and to share our experiences of faith," said Rev. Eric Andrews, president of Paulist Productions. "It's important for me and my mission as a priest to build those kinds of bonds with people of good will and faith."
Those involved with the film hope that their shared experiences bring a message of joy to their audience.
"The collaboration between our two churches, I think, is very important in many areas, but this is one very vital area too," said The Most Rev. John C. Wester, Bishop, Diocese of Salt Lake City. "It's going to bring home a really beautiful message for Christmas."
Jacob Buster made an acting debut as Norman Kamp, but he said he can't imagine what it would be like to be a boy with disabilities.
"It was fun, at the same time, kind of hard. Because if you were really him and you couldn't use your left arm and your right leg was always straight, I would just be so sad," Buster said.
Author Gale Sears wrote the book, which is the story of the Christmas after her father, Norman, lost his mother and contracted polio.
"The spirit of Christ and the spirit that Christmas brings are shared by all of us. And that feeling of Christmas is a joy. And, hopefully that's what this film will do is bring joy to people," Sears said.
The producers, both Catholic and LDS, said they are so pleased with the results of their first production together that they're already planning their next movie.
"Christmas for a Dollar" opens in Megaplex theatres on Friday.