When releasing a Christmas movie straight to DVD or TV, getting the picture noticed can be a real challenge. To stand out from the crowd it needs to be original, have a little bit of something different.

Among the many releases around the world this year, there is a Canadian release that caught our eye – Santa’s Little Ferrets.

We must admit, our initial question was; how can you get Ferrets in to a Christmas movie?

The answer, as it turns out, was quite simple. A straight forward recipe, if you will. Take an experienced film maker who has worked with the animals before, add a team of talented writers and blend with some excellent child actors.

Director Alison Parker came up with the title for the film and set about forming a plot to match. Having already worked on films such as Jake and Jasper: A Ferret Tale (2011), Alison has form for producing short movies with these lovable animals.

So, why a Christmas film? And Why ferrets? We had to find out.

Alison explained to us: “I decided a while back that I really wanted to make a Christmas movie. I’ve done a few family films but I’ve never tackled the Christmas genre and I wanted to try something different.

“I came up with the title “Santa’s Little Ferrets” and then my writers took care of the rest. I will say, it was a struggle to figure out a reason why Santa would need ferrets to help him in the first place!”

The movie features a young family on Christmas Eve. The two parents are tired and in need of some rest, the three young children jubilantly excited about the big day.

To whisk them off to sleep, the parents tell their kids the story of Santa’s Little Ferrets, the three furry assistants in charge of ensuring nobody is awake when Santa delivers the gifts on Christmas Eve.

However, an unexpected night is ahead as the ferrets turn out to be a reality, and with the children struggling to sleep, Santa’s security detail swings in to action.

The movie has a run time of 22 minutes, perfect for the family to enjoy at Christmas.

So what of the old adage that says you should “never work with animals or children”? This movie does both.

Alison, who counts classics such as Home Alone and Elf among her favourite Christmas films, said: “I actually find animals can be easier to work with than humans at times, because you can just break down your shots into very specific moments — get the ferret to look here, now get him to run to that couch, now jump onto the couch, now climb onto the end table — that’s 4 or 5 different shots right there, but it’s very by the book.

“You can follow your storyboards quite easily, but then you just never know if the animal is going to behave that day.

“A big challenge of working with animals is that they might do the trick perfectly a million times while they are at home with their trainer, but when they get to the set, a strange new environment, they’re so distracted by the new sights and smells, and they can’t focus on the job.

“Also, with ferrets especially, they like to sleep a LOT. We had to use six ferrets to play the role of the three in the film.

“With kids, I have been lucky to work with some of the best kid actors in town. They really make my job easy. There are challenges, especially with the younger ones, like 4 or 5 years old, but I enjoy coming up with solutions to those challenges, because it’s so worth it. Kids and animals are adorable, and the audience just eats that stuff up.”

Santa’s Little Ferrets

The ferrets themselves are great fun to watch, even just watching the trailer you begin to get a sense for the intelligence of the animals, not to mention the fun of the movie itself.

So, why ferrets?

“About five years ago I got a ferret as a pet and I really fell in love with them.” Alison explained.

“When I realised that there were no movies out there starring ferrets, at least not any that showed them positively and accurately, I just knew I had to make a ferret movie.

“They are great to work with. They are hilarious to watch and very smart and cute. They can be trained to do many complex things, it’s really quite impressive. I love working with ferrets because they always keep a smile on my face – even when they’re not doing what they’re supposed to!”

Alison is hoping to negotiate the TV release of the film with networks in 2015, but if you cannot wait that long to see it, it’s available now on DVD. The DVD is region 0, meaning it should play on any DVD player. Please check compatibility with your player prior to ordering.

Talking of next year, you may want to watch out for Dude, Where’s My Ferret, another comedy Alison is working on.

Thanks to Alison for taking the time to talk to us about her movie.

For more information and to buy Santa’s Little Ferrets, see the links below:

Buy DVD & View Trailer: Santa’s Little Ferrets

Twitter: @SantasFerrets