Booker T. Mattison has been focused on “The Sound of Christmas” not just during the holiday season, but all year long.
Mattison, an assistant professor in the Department of Entertainment and Media Studies at Grady College, was tapped to write and direct “The Sound of Christmas,” a holiday film debuting on the streaming service BET+ on Nov. 24, Thanksgiving Day. It stars Grammy-winning recording artist Ne-Yo and Serayah (“Empire”) in a story about a widower who falls in love with a music teacher who brings love and music back to the family during the holidays.
The musical is based on the novel, “The Replacement Wife,” by Tiffany L. Warren, who is a friend of Mattison’s. She recommended Mattison to write and direct.
“It’s a good example of what I tell my students…relationship capital is more valuable than any currency,” Mattison said.
Mattison spent 12 days in March filming the movie, but that is only a fraction of the time spent on the project. Countless hours were spent researching concepts for the film, studying music cues, and script analysis.
“Script analysis is remarkably important,” Mattison, who was screenwriter and director for the film adaptation of Zora Neale Hurston’s story “The Gilded Six Bits,” on Showtime, said. “It’s part of your world building but also part of characterization. It’s how you get depth and dimensionality and is so incredibly important.”
The original songs for the film were recorded in Atlanta’s Einnor studios the day before principal photography began.
While Mattison appreciated the challenge working with Ne-Yo and the rest of the cast, this was his first time writing and directing a musical.
“Most of my movies [are dramas and] tend to be dark,” Mattison admits, “but, the most important thing to me is that it is a good story, which this is.”
Mattison teaches classes in directing, screenwriting and the production capstone course at Grady, and brings lessons he learned on set into the classroom.
“Everything I do professionally on set is a potential learning tool. The most important lesson I can teach my students is creating fail safes that will help them prepare to deviate when changes come,” Mattison said.
“The reward for me is if this becomes a movie that everyone looks forward to during the Christmas season and that people sing the songs after watching the movie,” Mattison said.
Mattison has recently committed to his next project— writing and directing the Tubi-original film, “Twisted Marriage Therapist” (working title), a psychological feature-length thriller for MarVista Entertainment to stream on Tubi.