“This Christmas, I’m going to ask Santa for a video camera,” says Jack Clevenger, the 11-year-old Cathedral School student tapped for the coveted role of Ralphie. Though his PCS character is a cowboys-and-Indians-obsessed child of the 50s who whines and pines over a name brand BB gun, the real-life millennial tween envisions himself as a micro media maker, doing a whole different kind of shooting:

“I really want to make movies with clay characters and move them around using stop motion. Some things that I may do include reenacting movie scenes to make them sound funny or making up my own characters and adding them to the story. I like many different movies, but two of my favorite scenes are from the Muppets and the Marx Brothers.”

On the surface, actor and animator might seem like diverging career paths—but they’re actually quite compatible. It’s a common practice among animators to act out scenes before shooting them, referencing video of themselves frame by frame to bring lifelike gestures to the puppet characters they manipulate. So, Jack, we hope you get your Christmas wish. And somebody tell LAIKA we’ve got a live one.

A Christmas Story opens this weekend at Portland Center Stage. For more about Portland arts events, visit PoMo’s Arts & Entertainment Calendar, stream content with an RSS feed, or sign up for our weekly On The Town Newsletter!