#WFH Diaries: OIaf van Gerwen of Chuck Studios

As confinement continues in most parts of the world, we're checking in with creative people to see how they're faring. Here's an update from OIaf van Gerwen of Chuck Studios in Amsterdam.

Give us a one-line bio of yourself.

Food film director accidentally turned company owner. My partner Ellen and I have cooked up the world's biggest creative production company for food brands: Chuck Studios.

Where are you living right now, and who's with you?

We live in the Jordaan area of Amsterdam, the Netherlands: Ellen, me and Biggie the chihuahua-based hybrid tail-wagger. And spring has started, so we spend part of our time in our little cabin in the countryside.

What's your work situation like at the moment?

A lush river of beautiful projects has dried up. We had our little cry, but production people are pragmatic. I've created a mini office in the front room of our house and Ellen loves the kitchen table. We've reinvented processes and had AirPods surgically attached to our heads.

Describe your socializing strategy.

We have a morning Zoom three times a week with the Amsterdam office. We take the piss out of each other remotely. We all miss each other a lot.

How are you dealing with childcare, if applicable?

Our daughters are grownups so they don't live with us anymore. We did have colleague Marleen run out of a Zoom call because her 3-year-old smeared blue shampoo on each and every window. I understand these can be complicated times for parents.

What are you reading?

The menu of the pizzeria across the street, mostly. 

What are you watching?

We Ozarked successfully for a while. Now we're enjoying the spectacular dialogue of the HBO series Succession.

What are you listening to?

Our little lodge is pretty near Schiphol airport. But with air traffic on hold, I hear only birds. Whilst working, I listen to low-energy electronica with distorted sounds, like early Trentemöller or Christian Löffler. Interesting music distracts me—it's boring and propulsive at the same time.

How are you staying fit?

That question assumes I was fit. I wasn't really. I've been having myself savaged by Ben the boxing trainer, but now the pizza wins. Ellen is a fierce yoga lady, though.

Have you taken up a hobby?

Absolutely not. I'm working 18 hours a day to make sure we still have a company and clients after this shit show.

Any tips for getting necessities?

Ellen has created a refined ordering pattern at an online supermarket called Crisp. They source their goods from local growers and farms. And aside from food, things will have to wait I guess.

An awkward moment since all this started.

I had a nightmare about having a cunt for a wife and being locked in. Just imagine.

Best work email you got since all this started.

After we campaigned on LinkedIn and Instagram that we can still shoot, we've had two jobs confirmed. That's winning.

An aha! moment since all this started.

Post-war Westerners have seen economic deadlocks but not so much humanitarian or health crises. Russians, on the other hand, have survived crises of all natures. Our Russian partners and clients are as concerned as we are, but they're much less spooked.

What's your theory on how this is going to play out?

This crisis makes brands look inwards and re-establish their true function in society. I hope some of it will stick so that we pay more attention to issues that are less urgent but as important. And even my parents are shopping online now, so it takes no Nostradamus to tell that the shift to digital is accelerating at the speed of light. And one prediction is that I am going to get absolutely hammered the day this is over.

See the full #WFH Diaries series here.

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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