The Day Santa Didn’t Come

In the final days before Christmas, eight-year-old Curtis is concerned about his status on Santa’s list.

Despite his good intentions, Curtis is roped into questionable acts by his evil older brother. Curtis desperately tries to turn things around. Unfortunately, his odds of success are low.

Produced with a grant awarded by BravoFACT (Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent), a division of Bell Media Inc.

Creative team

Writer: Curtis Harrison
Director: Ryan Keller
Producer: Cullen Fairfield

Filmmakers’ statements

Curtis Harrison, writer

The Day Santa Didn’t Come is not your typical Christmas fare. This is not Disney or Hallmark. Our story is set in the very authentic, wildly inappropriate, little-seen world of small town Canada in the eighties.

Similar to The Wonder Years and A Christmas Story, this film is seen through the eyes of a child. Curtis is a sensitive boy who struggles to cope with a rather rough rural upbringing. He has very little control over the chaos around him, but he tries hard anyway.

Beneath the booze, smokes and petty theft, the Harrisons do have a strong family bond. Alongside the redneck laughs this story has a lot of heart and some sneaky warm and fuzzy moments.

The key images in The Day Santa Didn’t Come are all derived from my personal experiences growing up in Welland, Ontario. They are simultaneously over-the-top and extremely familiar to anyone who was raised in, or merely visited, small-town Canada.

From Curtis bringing fresh moose hooves to show-and-tell (yes, I did that) to dad and the kids stealing a Christmas tree by snowmobile (did that as well), these scenes are the rather odd, yet all-too-common experiences many of us grew up with.

I had no idea that my childhood was funny until I began to recount tales of my growing up to my friends. After getting enough requests at parties and being encouraged to pen some of these experiences down, eventually I did. My family has given me the utmost support and continue to be the biggest fans of this project.

Ryan Keller, director

Life in rural Canada in the 1980s might as well have been on a different planet by today’s standards. What would probably land you in jail in a city was just another day of getting drunk and taking the snow machine out for a rip back home.

I wanted this film to capture a slice of normal for us back then. To some degree, anyone who grew up in Canada in the 1980s will know these experiences although, unlike our protagonist Curtis, I doubt many of them brought a severed moose hoof to school for show and tell.

About Ryan Keller

Ryan Keller

Ryan Keller began his filmmaking career shooting 16 mm film in the forests of northern Ontario.

Since moving to Toronto, Ryan has developed a unique voice as a comedy director, honing his skills on projects such as cult hit Microwave Porn and the award-winning Second City’s Facebook of Revelations.

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