We’re not crying. YOU’RE crying.
Beastall, 32, from Tewkesbury in England, initially created his take on the emotive ads that big companies release over the festive period in 2014.
“I was on a run while thinking about Christmas film ideas, and it just came to me,” he told HuffPost via email on Friday. He sprinted home to share the idea with partner Claire Higley, with whom he has three young children, and “within a couple of days was filming it” in nearby Stroud for the price of “the fuel” and “the cost of lunch” ― which some media outlets have estimated at around $65.
The video tells the story of a man, played by actor Chris Ilston, who is counting down to Christmas Day ― when he opens a gift containing a cassette player so that he can listen to the final annual holiday message recorded by his now-late mother, voiced by Natalie Martins.
Beastall reshared the “Love Is A Gift” video online Sunday, after British department store John Lewis released its “The Boy And The Piano” promo featuring music icon Elton John. Beastall’s Facebook clip had by Friday morning garnered more than six million views.
“It’s overwhelming. I’m blown away. I could never in a million years have imagined it would take off like this,” he told HuffPost. “I have received so many lovely comments and a lot of heartfelt stories from people who have recently lost loved ones.”
He also shared further reaction in this Facebook video on Wednesday:
“It feels so surreal and like I’m living in a dream at the moment,” he captioned the clip. “It means a lot to me that people are taking the time to share my little film.”
Beastall revealed in a later tweet how he’d like to bring the film to the attention of “The Greatest Showman” star Hugh Jackman.
I would love it if @RealHughJackman would watch my film Love is a Gift. I thought The Greatest Show was incredible and so emotive. It’s films like this that inspire me.
— Phil Beastall (@philbeastall) November 20, 2018
“I think what Hugh has achieved with this film is incredible,” he said. “Musicals are a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine and to have someone like him view my film would be incredible. Hopefully, he’d enjoy it!”
His work continues to resonate on Twitter:
I hv lost both my parents mum when I was little and dad a few yrs ago i would just love to hv one tape with their voices on 💔💔thank u for the tape it really hits home and puts things in perspective 💕💙💕
— julieanne and Lexi Lou (Staffie) (@Z02Juel) November 23, 2018
Very touching…had me in tears as it brought back memories of my mum who passed away at Christmas time 7 years ago 💙
— Angela Crolla (@AngelaCrolla1) November 21, 2018
Phil, I lost my mum 36 years ago (just before Christmas) and the film is such a poignant reminder of that. Thank you,
— Pete Smith (@PeteGS68) November 22, 2018
I’m in pieces, but in a good way. Thank you for bringing Mum & Dad back, even if it was just for a moment. Beautiful.
— Whistle Test (@AldGra) November 22, 2018
Gorgeous. I’m still sobbing
— flippertygibbert (@flippertygibert) November 22, 2018
Now THAT is a Christmas advert. No pandering to a pampered pop star; no emphasis on luxury/elitist, overpriced and unnecessary gifts; no fake ‘happy families’. Just pure, raw emotion to tug on the heartstrings.@jlandpartners marketing “experts” should watch and weep.
— John Hughes (@hughesjg) November 23, 2018