Celia Aniskovich, director and producer of the documentary “The Merchants of Joy”, is bringing a new perspective to the big Christmas tree trade in New York City. The doc will follow five families who are both street corner capitalists and Christmas enthusiasts as they source, negotiate and hustle to sell as many trees as possible in the city that never sleeps. Aniskovich’s film comes from Boat Rocker, the company behind War Game, which just premiered at Sundance Film Festival and Hulu’s Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields, Dial Tone Films and Epic Magazine. Todd Lubin and Jack Turner will executive produce for Boat Rocker’s Matador Content alongside Ivan Schneeberg and David Fortier for Boat Rocker. Zoe Vock will produce for Dial Tone along with Arthur Spector, Joshua Davis, and Josh Bearman for Epic Magazine.
The project started as an article in Epic magazine published in December 2022. Aniskovich said she founded Dial Tone Films to tell stories of human connection, and “The Merchants of Joy” is a love letter to the people who make Christmas happen in New York City year after year. She’s excited to partner 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 of Boat Rocker Studios Unscripted. Much like her previous films, Celia has assembled an unconventional but 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 that what they 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 2023.