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DVD Review: Becoming Santa

November 8, 2011

Becoming Santa – An Alliance Films’ Release

DVD Release Date: November 8th, 2011

Rated G

Running time: 92 minutes

Jeff Myers (dir.)

Jack Sanderson (writer)

Zack Ryan (music)

Jack Sanderson as Himself

Our reviews below:


Becoming Santa DVD Review By John C.

***1/2 (out of 4)

Directed by Jeff Myers, Becoming Santa lovingly shows us the history of Santa Claus as well as the story of the Los Angeles-born Jack Sanderson.  After the death of his parents and with no family of his own, Sanderson spent an inspiring time attending “Santa School” so he could don the red suit come Christmas.  Doing the job for charity, we watch as he visits Santa Claus parades and takes a journey on The Polar Express, creating lasting memories for everyone that he visits and providing a genuine sense of giving to the audience.

Having met Jack Sanderson during the Hot Docs documentary film festival, his friendly personality is the same in person as it is in the documentary.  Becoming Santa strikes a satisfying balance between interviews and footage, making it a thoroughly enjoyable film for older kids and adults that will be best enjoyed over the holidays with a cup of hot chocolate.  Free of cynicism or negativity, this is a wonderful and sometimes very touching documentary that is worth seeing between now and Christmas.

The DVD includes no bonus features.


Becoming Santa DVD Review by Erin V.  

***1/2 (out of 4)

Becoming Santa is a charming documentary that follows a man named Jack Sanderson on his journey to… become Santa.  Throughout the film, Jack talks about his reasons of taking the job to try to ‘find Christmas’ after personal events affect his life.  Dyeing his beard white and ordering a custom made suit are his first steps to actually committing to doing this, and from ‘Santa school,’ (where he and a bunch of other prospective Santa’s are taught by an eccentric woman who’s been teaching the school for years), to a gig on The Polar Express, we get to see the full transformation of an ordinary man into someone every child knows as a representative of the spirit of Christmas.

A very accessible documentary, the film also gives a brief history of Santa and other gift bringers, rounding this out as a complete film to be enjoyed around Christmastime.  For older children and adults, it is a fun ride.


Becoming Santa DVD Review By Nicole

**** (out of 4)

Ever wondered about the origins of Santa Claus?  Becoming Santa tells the history of Santa Claus, from St. Nicolas to the Santa we know today.  Becoming Santa interviews the men who become the Santas at malls, parades, and charity drives.  The documentary mainly follows Jack Sanderson, a middle age man who looks remarkably like the classic Santa Claus.  Jack bleaches his hair to complete an authentic look.  He attends Santa School, where he is taught how to talk to children (not kids – those are baby goats), as well as how to answer often difficult questions they may have.  As Jack learns how to be Santa, he demonstrates the true meaning of the Christmas Season.

Becoming Santa is a lovely and charming documentary.  Well edited and with steady camera work, this is a nicely made documentary that knows its subject.  Becoming Santa is a feel good Christmas film that both the young and young at heart will love.


Becoming Santa DVD Review By Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

It takes more than a red hat and suit, a white beard and a few hearty Ho Ho Hos to become Santa.  It takes a desire to give, a sense of fun and a true love and understanding of the Christmas spirit.  In the wonderfully charming documentary, Becoming Santa we see the film’s writer and producer, Jack Sanderson as he follows his dream to become Santa for one Christmas season.

We watch as Jack bleaches his beard white, gets fitted for a custom-made Santa suit and attends an interesting Santa school with other would-be Santas.  The interviews with the different would-be Santas are uplifting and provide insight into the spirit of giving.  The segments on the history of Santa Claus with his roots coming from the St. Nicholas legends are interesting to see.

All in all, Becoming Santa captures the true spirit of the Christmas tradition of giving.  Becoming Santa is entertaining and one I’ll return to year after year.  Jack Sanderson makes a great Santa.  Ho Ho Ho and Merry Christmas!


Becoming Santa DVD Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Becoming Santa is a documentary about people who play this role for fun, profit and charity. We follow Jack Sanderson, a heavy-set, fully bearded middle-aged actor with no family, wishing to reconnect with happy memories. He gets his hair and beard bleached, buys a Santa suit and takes a course to learn the tricks and pitfalls of the trade. We get lots of comments from fellow followers of this vocation from all walks of life, all given the honorific Santa before their names. Though Jack finds his Santa role in a Polar Express ride and small town parade appearances exhausting and post-Christmas depression is a real occupational hazard, the film ends on a positive note with Jack’s participation in one of the many Santa charitable foundations and some personal Christmas Eve appearances.

Along the way we are treated to a history of the American Santa tradition now exported to many other countries. St. Nicholas, the fourth century Turkish bishop known for his generosity as a bringer of gifts, was the model for the German tradition brought along with Christmas trees to nineteenth century America and popularized by a German-born Civil War propaganda artist. Later advertising campaigns to get people to drink Coca-Cola in cold weather featured the familiar plump Santa folk art images. There is a dark side however in the Dutch tradition of Sinterklass, always accompanied to this day by Zwarte Piet, a demonic foil dressed as a jester in black face. As this is often the only image imprinted on Dutch children of dark-skinned people, the historic attitude of their Boer cousins toward native South Africans is hardly surprising to me.

Becoming Santa is always entertaining as well as informative and touching. Director Jeff Myers keeps things moving at a fun pace and as writer and protagonist, Jack Sanderson is charming and quick-witted, both indispensable qualities for his chosen vocation.


Consensus: Showing the history of Santa Claus as well as the story of Jack Sanderson’s transformation into the Christmas icon, Becoming Santa is a wonderful documentary that should be enjoyed by a wide audience over Christmas.  ***1/2 (Out of 4)

One Comment leave one →
  1. Sharon Dale permalink
    December 27, 2016 12:29 am

    At the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School in Midland, Mich., some two hundred Santas and Mrs. Clauses came from across the United States, Canada, Denmark and Norway to learn wood toy-making, brush up on storytelling skills, drive sleighs, feed reindeer and, most importantly, spread the Christmas spirit. Cookies are readily available at all times during the three-day training course on becoming Santa.


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