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The story of Casual Films greatest ever comeback (probably)

They say that when all’s said and done a win’s a win, and they, whoever they are, have a point – if you come out on top the story of how you got there is essentially immaterial. That said, and this is where I’ll take issue with ‘they’, it’s the stories of victory heroically ripped from the jaws of defeat that stand the test of time – these victories take on a bigger life because of the drama involved.

The Patriots victory from 25 points down in the last Superbowl, the successful return to earth of Apollo 13, Matthew McConaughey being in a film where he didn’t take his top off and winning an Oscar – these are the stories we love. They show grit, determination and my word there’s a lot of drama.

So it’s no small thing for me to tell you that Casual Films now has its very own tale of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Is it a greater story than Buster Douglas climbing off the canvas to knock out the previously peerless Mike Tyson? That’s not for us to say, but yes, yes it is.

So let’s set the scene.

We’d been commissioned by The Cut, New York Magazine’s style and fashion section, to make a film about the latest collection of designer Diane Von Furstenberg, yes, the Diane Von Furstenberg (no, me neither, but I’m more in to films). So this was quite a big deal, in the run up to New York Fashion Week an important publication was asking us to make a beautiful film about some beautiful clothes. So far, so good.

We arranged for the shoots to take place at a few very well scouted outdoor locations and with a week or so to go everything was hunky dory and indeed tickety boo. Then, with less than 24 hours to go we were sabotaged. By our own director, Casual stalwart Lydia. She reviewed the clothes once more and decided that they would actually look better indoors. We had no indoor location arranged. Were we heading to a Dunkirk style victory, coming from the jaws of self-inflicted defeat? Well no, but I like your thinking.

With no indoor location booked it might have just been left as a thought of what might have been, but then the weather closed in, a hefty storm brewed and any thought of shooting outside became wishful thinking. Defeat was looming.

Ever industrious, Lydia, Kay and Production Co-ordinator Phi worked through the night to sort it out, locations were duly booked, the Casual Films studio readied and the day was saved. Hooray. For about 3 hours. Boo.

As everyone was preparing the next morning, Guy Hixon came charging in with panic in his eyes, well, more panic than usual anyway “The office is flooding, there’s water everywhere!” was his cry. He wasn’t exaggerating. The water system in our office was working in reverse. Water, and unpleasant things that are removed by water, was spewing from every drain, sink, toilet – basically if water was supposed to go down it, that’s where it was coming from.

This in itself is incredibly unpleasant, anyone who’s been to a music festival can account for that, but it’s something you can fix and move past. Unless you’re doing a fashion shoot filled with models and thousands of dollars worth of brand new designs of course – and that’s what we were doing, imminently. Our studio was no use. Next doors studio was unavailable. The clients were on their way.

This is the ‘all is lost’ point in the film, Rocky’s on the canvas, the Karate Kid can’t walk and we’re all trapped by velociraptors in the kitchen. Defeat isn’t just inevitable, it’s moments away.

It was our moment of truth, we needed a crane kicking T-Rex, and we needed one fast. As if reading from the script of an (admittedly strange) Hollywood thriller, up stepped Phi with her little black book, and in the very nick of time she arranged a studio, while at the very same moment the clients, including the glamorous Aydah Albaba from New York Magazine, approached our door. It really couldn’t have been cut any finer.

The difficult bit was over. We called a fleet of Ubers and whisked everyone off to location where under the direction of Lydia, our talented DoP Brendan Gilliam shot a beautiful film that truly did the designs justice.

Okay, so it’s no Toy Story 3 (I’m still crying about the end of that), but I think we can all agree that it was a sensational victory, it was snatched from the jaws of defeat, it was dramatic, and it would be a box office smash if we could just get Matthew McConaughey to play Guy.


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