Southwest Michigan’s aerospace and science center, the Air Zoo, was the primary location for a 2020 holiday film featuring Michael Welch (The Twilight Saga), Lauren Rys Martin and Kayla Kelly, among dozens of community members, including Air Zoo staff and volunteers.
The story, written by Phil Wurtzel and Patti Wittengberg, depicts a young disillusioned war vet named Nick (Michael Welch), recently home from Afghanistan. As Nick finds himself struggling with depression and despair, a visit from his guardian angel (Lauren Rys Martin), and his meaningful work at “a small-town air museum” (the Air Zoo), shows him that his life really does make a difference.
A Christmas Hero, produced by Jim Teachout, Patrick Floch and Wurtzel’s Friel Films, debuted in the U.K. on November 23rd and hit the US market on Tuesday, December 8, 2020.
Phil Wurtzel, born in Kalamazoo and a Climax-Scotts graduate, now lives in Battle Creek. When asked why he chose to film at the Air Zoo, Wurtzel responded, “I’ve shot several feature films in SW Michigan and each of them revolves around great locations. Whether it was Southern Exposure in Battle Creek or the Barn Theatre in Augusta, I’ve found that Michigan really has some unique areas for filming – and that are somewhat undiscovered.” He added, “When we were given access to the Air Zoo for A Christmas Hero it was very exciting because I consider it one of the top aviation museums in the country and also because this story really works best in this location.” Phil also shared that he was grateful for the support of Preston Parish and Air Zoo co-founder Pete Parish, who he met on location before his passing. “They are all just really great people. I hope that this film showcases the Air Zoo for others around the country who have not yet traveled here”.
Air Zoo’s President & CEO, Troy Thrash states, “it was as whirlwind of excitement while they were onsite filming back in 2019. We are proud and honored to be the setting for this timeless story. We hope the message rings clear for folks this holiday season, and that just maybe they put the Air Zoo, here in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on their to-visit list.”
Beginning December 8th, you can find A Christmas Hero on Amazon, iTunes, as well as VOD (Video on Demand) release nationwide with Dish, DirectTV Network and others. DVDs are available at Walmart, Best Buy, and Target.
The trailer can be found here: https://youtu.be/XWuDdJXHneI
About the Air Zoo
Located at 6151 Portage Rd., Portage, MI 49002, the Air Zoo is a Smithsonian-affiliated aerospace & science experience with over 100 rare air & space craft, inspiring interactive exhibits, indoor amusement park rides, full-motion flight simulators, hands-on science-based education programs, and more. The Air Zoo is a not-for-profit organization and is open 360+ days per year. For hours, tickets, safety policies and procedures as well as temporarily altered experiences due to COVID-19, visit airzoo.org/plan-your-visit.