It’s not every day that you get asked to appear in a film where you’ll cut yourself in half.  So I was thrilled to be invited by the Italian luxury menswear brand Canali 1934 to consult on and perform in their 2016 holiday short film where I would end up doing exactly that. It’s been a trend with luxury brands to produce high-end cinematic ‘featurettes’ lately.  This is the latest one by Canali at the bottom of this post.

Canali 1934 magician
A pocket square magically appears from empty hands

The production team decided to make a short film about their beautiful products. The premise was to be that a magician called The Incredible Mr. C, (who I played) would conjure up elegant Canali gifts as part of his magical repertoire.

In the early production meetings for this short film I saw they wanted to use an element of CGI hocus pocus to achieve magical ideas.  This was to accomplish effects that were not possible by ‘traditional magic methods’ (for example, sawing myself in half when I don’t have a twin brother!). But I was thrilled to know they also wanted a strong emphasis on good old-fashioned sleight of hand close-up magic.

Magician Christopher Howell on set
Behind the scenes photo with cameras rolling.

Opting for sleight of hand made sense for a company that prides themselves on their artistry. (Not to offend the special effects peeps out there, of course what they do is artistry as well). But we’re talking about magic artistry here and there’s something totally different for an audience watching a short film when they know that the magic they’re seeing is being created by the magician’s hands alone as a result of countless hours of work and preparation… all to give a brief fleeting moment, that feeling of magic to an audience.

I’m not alone: craft fetishism is alive and well…

…It’s that hunger for carefully (often hand) crafted, well-thought-out solutions that give the user a deep satisfaction knowing every detail has been observed. It’s of course Canali’s job when they produce a new item.  There’s also lots of overlap with any good design and making good magic (check out my post on Thomas Heatherwick to see more about that).  In good magic and good design, every detail matters and every moment counts.

So it all felt like a perfect union to have the value of hand-made magic featured into a magical holiday short film for this Canali holiday video. So pop some popcorn and I hope you enjoy these few minutes of magic. Have a super holiday season and see you in the New Year!

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