February 28, 2024

EXCLUSIVE: The Christmas tree trade in New York City is big business. Every holiday season, hundreds of thousands of trees are sold on the sidewalks of New York, and competition is fierce.

This is the foundation for a new feature documentary from Call Me Miss Cleo director Celia Aniskovich.

Aniskovich is directing and producing The Merchants of Joy (w/t), which comes from Boat Rocker, the company behind War Game, which just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and Hulu’s Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields, Dial Tone Films and Epic Magazine.

The doc will follow five families, who are equal parts street corner capitalists and Christmas die-hards, as they source, bargain, and hustle to sell as many trees as they can in the city that never sleeps. 

It started as an article in Epic magazine, which was published in December 2022.

Todd Lubin and Jack Turner will executive produce for Boat Rocker’s Matador Content, alongside Ivan Schneeberg and David Fortier for Boat Rocker. Aniskovich and Zoe Vock will produce for Dial Tone, along with Arthur Spector, Joshua Davis and Josh Bearman for Epic Magazine.  

“I founded Dial Tone Films to tell stories of human connection,” said Aniskovich. “The Merchants of Joy is a love letter to the people that make Christmas happen in New York City, year after year. I’m thrilled to be partnering with Boat Rocker and Matador Content to shake up this snow globe in the greatest city on earth.”

“From turf wars to trade secrets, the intrigue, and personalities featured in The Merchants of Joy should make this an instant holiday classic,” said Todd Lubin, President, Boat Rocker Studios, Unscripted.

“Much like her previous films, Celia has assembled an unconventional and endearing cast of characters; we’re so happy to be partnering with her and Epic on this evergreen film,” added Jack Turner, SVP of Scripted and Documentary Content for Matador.  

Joshua Davis, co-founder of Epic Magazine added, “What we didn’t realize is that the Christmas tree business is a year-round, white-knuckled hustle, which Celia began filming with extraordinary passion in January of 2023.” 

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