In 1981, Tim Sullivan knew he needed to make some major changes in his life. Relighting Candles tells the story of how one man’s journey to sobriety, became a beacon of hope for so many others.
Relighting Candles: The Tim Sullivan Story is a short film about a candle shop owner in West Hollywood who employs newly sober, and homeless individuals. To talk about the film GLAAD’s Anthony Allen Ramos and. GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics‘ Jim Farmer hosted a conversation with directors Zeberiah Newman and Michiel Thomas and the subject of the project, Tim Sullivan.
Director Zeb Newman shares his personal connection to Sullivan’s story. “I am also a member of the sober community here in Los Angeles and I myself many years ago was a homeless drug addicted individual living on the streets. Through the kindness of strangers and second chances and opportunities, I was able to rehabilitate my life and get to a point where I got a career which turned into this big great life.”
Newman was so moved by Sullivan’s work, “To think there’s a little Christmas candle shop in Los Angeles, in the middle of West Hollywood, that is one person offering solutions and second chances to people and humanizing the struggle of early recovery,” he knew he had to get involved.
Thomas knew from the start that Sullivan’s lived experiences would have an impact on people everywhere. “I always like to tell a bigger story on a bigger scale through an individual story and Tim’s story was so great that I immediately was on board to do this.”
Sullivan explains how effortless it was to talk to Newman and Thomas. “I kept saying to myself, this is very easy, tell the truth. So consequently, what came out of my mouth didn’t even have a chance to get altered or beautified or anything.”
Newman, who has come very close with Sullivan through this process, shares that they go to AA meetings together every Friday night. “I make the coffee and Tim brings the cookies.”
Thomas and Newman hope that after watching this film, audiences become more open to understanding and helping those struggling with addiction and homelessness. “By shining a light on this story, we can all think about how we can contribute,” Thomas says.
Newman also hopes the film helps people who may be struggling with these issues realize that there is always hope. “Anything is possible. Even if you are at the lowest point, if you’re still alive, it could turn around tomorrow… I never would have ever believed when I was living on Skid Row that one day I would be here making movies with you guys and working in television. It’s the greatest surprise of my life.”
The film was executive produced by Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone. They were so moved by Sullivan’s story, they even came into the shop to help create a special holiday candle collection.
Newman, who is a self proclaimed “Christmas Queen” says that McCarthy’s “Sweata Weatha” candle “is gorgeous, the gays are going to love it.”
To purchase the holiday candle set and support Sullivan’s mission, visit his website here: timothyjaycandles.com
Watch the trailer for Relighting Candles: The Tim Sullivan Story here: