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A call out of the blue to appear in Casino Royale for UK couple

23-Nov-2006 • Casino Royale

It's not every day that you are sitting in your office, the phone rings and out of the blue someone asks you to take part in the latest James Bond film - reports EADT.

But this is what happened earlier this year to Ipswich-based boatbuilder Mick Newman and his family. Mick's business Spirit Yachts builds yachts for clients across the globe.

These luxury vessels start life in Mick's workshops by the River Orwell before being delivered to wealthy customers in the Caribbean and Mediterranean.

For Casino Royale, not only did Mick, his wife Wiss and son Will have to deliver and crew the 54 foot yacht Spirit but they were also called upon to sail the vessel on camera and double for the stars.

He said: “It was a wonderful experience and totally unexpected. The whole thing took about four-and-a-half months from start to finish.”

He said that the highlights included Wiss doubling for Bond girl Eva Green, who wasn't a sailor, and watching the scene unfold on the big screen at the Leicester Square premiere in London last week.

“It was just so unreal. I remember the day we arrived on set. A lovely Italian make-up lady appeared whisked Wiss away and an hour later I saw her walking back with this glamorous looking woman who looked vaguely familiar - then I realised that it was my wife.

“We've been married for 25 years so I would have been in trouble if I hadn't recognised her.”

He said that they were thrilled to be the first boat to be allowed to sail on the Grand Canal in Venice - after it has been closed to outside traffic 350 years ago.

Mick added: “This strange journey just started with a phone call from production manager Richard Carless who said he wanted to borrow one of our yachts for the new Bond film.

“I said that we preferred to sell them and if he was going blow them up then some our owners were a bit funny about that sort of thing.

“But he assured us that this was to be Bond's yacht and would be required for two scenes one in the Bahamas and one in Venice and would we sail it for them? It sounded great.”

But, it wasn't all glamour however. Mick said: “It seems that hanging around seems to be the main occupation on a film set.

“When we first arrived in the Bahamas we had an early shoot on the far side of the island in order to catch the sun rising with the Spirit in the foreground.

“This entailed leaving the dock at 4am, motoring round the island through shallows and reefs, all in the pitch dark and arriving one minute before the chosen start time of 7am.

“The film crew eventually turned up at 2.30pm... the sun having long since departed along with any shred of patience from the Spirit crew.”

Bad weather with 30 knot winds dogged the next step of the journey with Will and his friend Gideon sailing the Spirit to Exuma Cay, island hopping from Long Island, Bahamas, Puerto Rico and on to the British Virgin Islands.

Sadly after all this sailing and filming everything from this part of the shoot ended up on the cutting room floor.

Mick and his family are hoping that much of this material will end up as extras or deleted scenes when the film is released on DVD.

The yacht was then crated up and shipped to Europe for the Venice scenes where Wiss sailed the yacht disguised as Eva Green's character Vesper and Will was employed as a lighting double for Daniel Craig during the scenes where Bond emails his letter of resignation from the yacht.

Mick said: “I was very pleased that the yacht and even the name of the yacht was given such a high profile in the film.

“The Venice scenes looked spectacular and we feel very proud to be involved in such a high profile film.

“For us it was even better to be chosen as James Bond's preferred method of transport. That puts us alongside such leading brands as Aston Martin.”

He said they moved their business from Saxmundham to Ipswich two years ago because they were running out of space where we were.

“The business was also expanding and so needed somewhere bigger and more flexible and we were fortunate find new workshops in Ipswich.

“Now we are building a 100 foot yacht and have a 120 footer on the drawing boards. Our workforce has gone up from 10 people to 32 and business is good.”

Casino Royale, he said, was an eye-opening look into the world of big budget film-making. And, with recognition playing a large role in yacht sales, sailing into James Bond's life is a good move.

Mick said: “We did 2,000 miles of sailing, two transatlantic crossings by ship, 1,500 miles on trucks, five 'mast in and mast out's' and paid out a dozen airfares for, we guess, about three or four minutes on screen but it was worth it.”

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