Mathias Mlekuz goes behind the camera for his first production: “Mine de rien”. The feature film is inspired, without even knowing it, by the story of Wendell “Bud” Hurlbut, one of the first creators of theme parks in the United States.
Casually : the first realization of Mathias Mlekuz
Mathias Mlekuz has appeared in around fifty films and series over the past 20 years. He was for example on the poster of the series What are we waiting for to be happy, Lawyers & Associates or Nicolas Le Floch in the role of Inspector Bourdeau. On the cinema side, he has accumulated supporting roles and notably appeared in The Tiger Brigades, Leave quickly and come back late, Everything to please or Brice of Nice. In 2020, he therefore decided to go behind the camera for the first time. In effect, he writes and directs Casuallya social comedy carried by Arnaud Ducret and Philippe Rebbot.
The story tells how, in the Pas de Calais, which was the jewel of the mining industry, two long-term unemployed the idea of building an artisanal amusement park in a former coal mine. Presented during the Alpe d’Huez International Comedy Film Festival, the film met with some success and won the DashFUN Audience Award.
The idea of Casually comes from Mathias Mlekuz himself. Indeed, in the late 1990s, the filmmaker visits the site of 11/18 in Loos en Gohelle, in the Pas de Calais. It is an old coal mine transformed into a theatre. Mathias Mlekuz remembers the magic of the place :
It is a very inspiring place with its two twin slag heaps. Then I have a passion for object theater, I love the game provided by the diversion of objects. We started to write our screenplay with these bases. My grandfather was an underground miner. Immigrated from Yugoslavia, he descended into a well at 13 years old. My childhood was steeped in the stories and struggles of miners. All these elements are found in my film. We also started from the acknowledgment of failure of most of the training and internships offered to the unemployed.
Wendell Hurlbout’s story
However, this brilliant idea of renovating an old mine into an amusement park is much older. Indeed, the first to have had this illumination is American Wendell “Bud” Hurlbut. Indeed, in the 1950s, Bud Hurlbut joined a restaurant that was hugely successful. To keep the growing number of customers waiting, he had the idea of using an old gold minelocated next to the establishment, to turn it into an amusement park. Consumers then waited for their table while taking advantage of a nice car ride.
Born in 1918 and died in 2011, Bud Hurlbut is considered one of the first creators of theme parks in the USA. It is indeed at the origin of the construction of famous amusement parks such as the Mine Ride, the Timber Mountain Log Ride or the Castle Park. But the funny thing is that Mathias Mlekuz had imagined his scenario of Casually long before he became aware of Bud Hurlbut’s existence.