Jenn Gotzon & Jim Chandler: The Farmer and the Belle (Part 1)

John FarrellBy John Farrell12 Minutes

JF: Can you tell me a little bit about The Farmer and the Belle: Saving Santaland and why did you want to do this movie?

Jenn: We wanted it to be a fun family Christmas affair that really ushers in that Christmas spirit every year about Jesus. Make it like a yearly tradition that people would get together with their popcorn and hot cocoa and Christmas PJ’s and have fun with the kiddos and grandparents.

Jim: We wanted to make it a fun Christmas story that could help young women and girls with their value. It’s about a young girl who loses a childhood heirloom that talks about inner beauty and real love. As an adult with a modeling career, she struggles with her identity, where she gets her value from, and the fact that she might be aging out.

She has a revelation that she needs to go back and find the bracelet she lost. In doing so, she meets back up with her childhood pen pal who’s now a farmer. She has to confront him and the past. She also has to make a decision as to whether she’s going to find out what true beauty and real love is. Or if she’s going to go back to the world’s idea of what beauty and love is.

She gets to experience the difficulties of the farm and the difficulties of looking within and deciding what’s more important – treating others with kindness and being a person that is helpful or going back to what she’s used to, the glamour, the glitz, and the fame and the struggles that she had. It’s a great journey that we get to ride with Belle on and you get to find out more about who she is and what she can learn on her journey. It’s a lot of fun.

Jenn: And we dressed it up in a Christmas story. So, we have fun Santaland games. We flashback when Belle fell in with the pigs as a youngster and loses her bracelet. And then as an adult, we have to find out will she wrestle the pigs and put Santa hats on them?

JF: Why do you think girls need to understand true beauty and how does their proclivity to social media affect their self-image?

Jim: I think that’s a great point that you’re bringing up there because what we’ve learned … I’ve done some research just personally on this from the different social psychologists that have written books about it. We’ve unfortunately seen an increase in teen suicide, self-harm, and just overall depression and mental illness in girls 11 to 14.

It really started with the generation that has been living with the iPhone where they’re posting their picture and then comparing themselves to other images that are on the screen. What they don’t realize is that no matter how much they dress themselves up in a filter, whatever they post, it’s not real and what they’re seeing from other people, it’s not real, but what is real is God’s love for them. And if we can get that messaging to these youngsters that see this movie, then perhaps they can understand that they’re inherently valuable.

It’s not about Instagram likes or social media followers, but it’s about the inherent spark of divinity that’s within each one of them. That’s the message that we want to deliver to these young girls and women, everybody.

For the guys, we want them to understand that the value that women have is not something we give them. It’s something we can support, something we can uplift, something we can encourage. That’s the kind of messaging we wanted to deliver to these youngsters and to the audience in general.

Jenn: When I was a teen, I really believed the lie that we learned from our research that 90% of girls and women believe that if I’m beautiful, then I’m worthy to be loved. So, I started to learn how to overcome that lie as an adult and those negative thoughts and we inscribed it on the bracelet.

I want to encourage your readers to know how to overcome that lie, because we could say you are a spark of divinity and God loves you. But, as a girl, for me, I didn’t know how to really experience that. So, when I start to say over myself, those biblical truths, I have that negative lie and I replace it with God’s truth. I am a magnificent masterpiece. My body and soul are marvelously made, which comes from Psalms. When you renew your mind and you say that over yourself, you literally come out of that dark negative comparison thinking, and there’s a radiant joy that comes over you.

In our bracelet, there’s a heart that you hold in the palm of your hand and if we realize that all love comes from Jesus, we don’t need to seek it from a man. So, we want to hold on to that heart and say, “Jesus, help me grasp how wide, high, long, and deep is your love for me?” But a lot of times our heart is hardened. Erin Smalley from Focus on the Family said we have to have an open heart. That’s why we have that inscribed on the bracelet … to truly help teens, children and women overcome these lies.

JF: Is the bracelet you have for sale a replica of the one that the girl goes back to the farm to look for in the movie ?

Jenn: It replicates the symbolism that I would use growing up. I would wear jewelry when God would give me a revelation and that jewelry would remind me of His truth. So, we wanted to give a tangible item that someone could wear on their arm, look down throughout the day and be inspired. I use it all the time.

When I’m fearful for a meeting or nervous about doing something, I’ll look to one of the charms and it tells me to be obedient to my calling and God has plans to prosper me and not to harm me. I’ll say that scripture over and over and over again as I push through that fear.

This bracelet is selling on QVC. We have five sizes. It’s an adjustable bracelet that will fit all wrists. We’re so excited to be able to give it to the audiences everywhere.

JF: Can you speak a little bit about how your real lives inspired the movie? There’s even footage from your actual wedding included in the end credits. What was it like including one of the most special days in your lives in the movie and what other moments from your lives inspired the movie’s storytelling?

Jim: I’ll start with that. My family comes from a farm. We have a farm here in North Georgia that’s been in the family for over a hundred years. My brother runs a herd of cattle that he raises for grass-fed beef. He also raises pigs. We also have some pet goats and stuff that we like to have as fun items just to have around and take care of, as well, some donkeys and stuff.

That actually is a true element for me and my family. If you watch the movie, you’ll see that I’m right at home with the animals. That’s because I’m true to working with them. And same thing with the young lady who plays my daughter, who’s actually my niece. It’s her dad that runs the farm. She’s my brother’s daughter. That’s why she was so comfortable with it. Can you imagine hiring an actress from Hollywood or New York that needed to come in and work with cows, chickens, goats, and stuff like that? It was great to have her involved.

Another element is that I actually wrote Jenn letters while we were dating. I would write handwritten cards and send them to her. We were in a sense, along with some phone calls, pen pals. We wanted to have that be one of the threads in the story.

Jenn: The images you see in the modeling career, those actually came from my modeling career in China for a makeup line called “Jubilee.” Some of those images have been on billboards across Asia. And the Chinese makeup artist is a celebrity makeup artist in China. We brought him in for the movie.

While I was modeling, I was dating Jim and I was a fish out of water on his family farm. When they brought me down to the pigs and fed them pig slop, I didn’t know what it was. When Belle said, “It’s super squishy,” that was from a real-life situation. I had no idea how to be around cows, chickens, and goats. So all of that was inspired into the threads of this story.