The past few years have been surreal for Auldin Maxwell and his family – a feeling that will likely continue in the coming weeks with the release of a movie he inspired.
On Nov. 29, 2020, the Salmon Arm youth broke his first Guinness World Record for the most Jenga blocks (693) stacked on one vertical Jenga block. News of this achievement spread near and far, landing Auldin, who was 12 at the time, not only in the pages of Guinness World Records, but also in front of mics and cameras for numerous interviews.
“In January 2021, everything happened at once and it was just a week of being constantly bombarded and reporters calling the school and the school principal calling us and saying can we give out your contact information…,” said Auldin’s mother Kelly Murray. “It was a lot of good stress but it was something we’d never dealt with before.”
This year Auldin and Murray are again doing interviews. Auldin is back in Guinness World Records (the 2024 edition), having broken his Jenga stacking record five times, the latest recorded on Jan. 22, 2023, when he stacked 1,840 Jenga blocks on one.
“15-year-old Auldin Maxwell has always played around with building and stacking Jenga blocks making various designs and buildings, but when he came across online videos of the Most Jenga Blocks Stacked on One Jenga Block - he was quickly inspired to take on the challenge,” reads a media release from Guinness World Records. “Since then, Auldin has been building unbelievable Jenga stacks using thousands of individual blocks, impressing friends and family members alike.” The 2024 edition includes another of Auldin’s records: most Giant Jenga blocks (900) stacked on one vertical Giant Jenga block.
Another reason for the recent attention: Auldin’s record-breaking feats, particularly his March 27, 2021 record, when he stacked 1,400 Jenga blocks on one vertical block, inspired an upcoming Hallmark release, A World Record Christmas. The movie focuses on Charlie (based on Auldin), “an autistic boy determined to set a Guinness World Record by stacking 1,400 Jenga blocks,” and is encouraged by his mother and stepfather to reach his dream.
“In the spirit of the holiday, they organize a fundraiser giving the townspeople an opportunity to donate and decorate a Jenga block, with the proceeds going to benefit kids with autism,” reads the synopsis. “Charlie’s journey to setting the Jenga world record gives them all the chance to learn more not just about themselves, but about what family really means.”
Charlie also receives encouragement from Auldin, who was given a cameo filmed in March 2023. Auldin, who has acting in mind as a possible future, was given an opportunity to try out for the role of Charlie. Though interested, and grateful, he is cool with the cameo.
“It’s just it would have been really stressful with school and stuff,” said Auldin. “The actor in the movie… whenever he took a break, he had to go upstairs and do his homework and then go back to acting. He looked quite stressed.”
Murray explained the characters in the movie are based on people in Auldin’s life. Asked how it approaches the topic of autism, she said the filmmakers endeavoured to be sensitive and asked for information about people she and Auldin have come across in his autism journey.
“I gave the names of some pretty important doctors in Vancouver who helped get Auldin’s diagnosis,” said Murray. “They consulted with them to make sure they were being sensitive in their wording, their language, how things are being portrayed.”
Auldin himself repeatedly received encouragement from people involved with the movie.
“They said if there’s another movie and they need a background character, a scene where a character talks for a little while, they said they would contact me,” said Auldin.
On Auldin’s day of filming, the cast and crew gathered and one of the producers told the crowd (with Auldin and his stepfather David present), that they were all there because of Auldin and his record.
“Everybody clapped for them and Auldin was so ‘shocked and speechless’ that David had to speak on his behalf because it was a total surprise and overwhelming in such a good way,” said Murray.
Outside of the media tour, Auldin has no other immediate plans related to world records and Jenga. But he is considering other records to break. One would involve replicating his Jenga feats with dominoes. The other: breaking Anthony Miracola’s record of 35 baskets sunk from behind a basketball backboard. Auldin said he’s been practising and getting good at it.
“I’ve done 25,” said Auldin.
A World Record Christmas premieres on Thursday, Nov. 16 on the W Network.
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