Dealt, the critically acclaimed documentary about the life of self-described “card mechanic” Richard Turner, is being turned into a feature film, according to an exclusive report at Variety.
Court Five, a production company formed by New Line Cinema alums Jane Fleming and Mark Ordesky, has acquired the rights from Keep On Running Pictures and Ralph Smyth Entertainment to produce a Hollywood film adaptation of the life of the award-winning magician. The report also states that the filmmakers behind the documentary (director Luke Korem, producer Russell Groves, and writer Bradley Jackson) will be working on the film as producers.
“Richard Turner is a one-of-a-kind character whose fierce commitment to overcoming adversity is inspiring and moving in equal measure,” Fleming and Ordesky said in a statement to Variety. “We are thrilled to expand on the terrific storytelling of Dealt to bring audiences even more of his incredible story.”
Production is obviously very early, and as such, no directors, writers, or actors have been attached yet (or whether the adaptation with retain the name of the documentary or be called something else).
Turner’s life story, which involves overcoming blindness to become one of the world’s most renowned card magicians, feels ready-made for a proper film adaptation, especially when the documentary is already as good as it is. Now, the question remains: who do you think should play Turner?
Richard Turner documentary Dealt is an incredible character study, but of course the process to make a great artistic work doesn’t happen overnight. In director Luke Korem’s case, that process happened over several years because he threw out half of the film once he realized it wasn’t coming together as well as he’d like.
In an article written for No Film School, Korem discusses five important things he learned from making his second feature. While much of the advice is meant for filmmakers to take to heart (like “Don’t edit your own film”), there are still some interesting nuggets about the process of how Dealt‘s narrative took shape.
The reason why Dealt works so well (as we recounted in our review) is because it’s not just an account of Turner’s incredible life, but rather an essay on the nature of obsession and admitting your own limitations to yourself. But finding that story meant listening to what was going on around the film’s subjects’ lives and being willing to take a risk on extending the schedule beyond what they’d originally planned for. Korem explains:
…I realized mid-way through production on Dealt that there was a more powerful story to tell. The film at that point was mostly a past-tense biopic. The arc of the story was mostly what happened leading up to this point in the main character’s life. However, it wasn’t sitting right with me. I had reviewed a lot of the cinéma vérité we had filmed, and found it to be more interesting. I also sensed (from listening) that there was a present day conflict and story that was unfolding.
After considerable thought and a team meeting, we scrapped half the edit and reversed course. We decided to film for an additional full year. This also meant I needed to jump in the edit room because our main editor was no longer available. It all sounds crazy but it was the right move. The story we ended up telling has more weight and resonates with a greater audience. It was totally worth it.
You can read the rest of the article here, which offers other nuggets into Dealt’s creation, as well as great advice for both filmmakers and anyone interested in crafting a interesting story from unlikely sources. Dealt is available to watch on DVD and available to rent digitally through iTunes, Amazon Video, Vudu, Google Play, and more.
Luke Korem’s documentary Dealt is a fascinating glimpse into the incredible life of “card mechanic” Richard Turner and his quest for perfection in spite of a condition that has left him legally blind. And while the film has seen limited showing in theaters across the country and has been available to rent or purchase via digital platforms, details about a physical DVD release have been scarce – until now.
MPI Media Group has confirmed via Twitter that Dealt is now available to purchase on DVD thanks to a collaboration with distributor IFC Films.
— MPI Media Group (@MPIMediaGroup) February 19, 2018
MPI Media Group’s website shows that the disc is currently available for pre-order for $24.99 despite a release date of February 13. Meanwhile, Amazon lists the film available for $19.96, but with a shipping time of around one to four weeks. Perhaps the limited distribution has effected stock, and they’re currently unable to keep up with demand. Either way, if you’re looking to get your hands on a physical copy of the film, make sure you order now so a copy can get shipped to you as soon as it’s available.
Card mechanic Richard Turner is a fascinating individual, and the documentary Dealt tells his story. GeniiOnline already has our own review up, but several other publications have also had reviewers check out the movie. The tl;dr of these reviews: Dealt is dang good.
“Throughout ‘Dealt,’ however, director Luke Korem offers a more prosaic but no less remarkable explanation for Turner’s status as the Daredevil of card mechanics: sheer force of will.” – Variety
“Blind magician triumphs with the hand he’s been ‘Dealt’.” – Los Angeles Times
“Card technician Richard Turner’s skills would be astonishing for a person with no disability, and they supply the film with some thrilling moments.” – The Hollywood Reporter
“Mr. Korem keeps a reverent distance from his subject, as if not to spoil the magic.” – The New York Times
“Director Luke Korem could have made a film about card tricks — and there are some good ones here — but instead opted for a multilayered character study that proves quite moving.” – San Francisco Chronicle
You can find tickets and showing information on Dealt’s website. Or if you prefer the comfort of your own couch, it’s also available from several online platforms including iTunes, YouTube, Google Play, and Amazon.
Richard Turner is one of the greatest living card magicians in the world—who also happens to be blind—and is the subject of the critically-acclaimed documentary Dealt, which just launched in theaters and on video-on-demand services in North America. The film explores Turner’s life, how his blindness led him into the world of magic, and how a relentless pursuit of perfection drove him to overcome his disability.
In promoting the film, both Richard Turner and film director Luke Korem teamed up on October 25 to answer questions in an ‘Ask Me Anything’ segment on reddit. There, the duo opened up on aspects of the film, details on Turner’s practice regimen, his influences, and more. Here are a few of the highlights:
Dealt wants you to know just how talented and how disciplined Richard Turner really is. In its opening moments, we see the self-professed “card mechanic” quietly going through a routine of sit-ups and weightlifting, his hand simultaneously thumbing through a deck of cards as naturally as you or I would breathe. We’re then whisked away to the Magic Castle where Turner runs through alliterative voice exercises, walks to a table, and begins cutting and shuffling the deck in at least a dozen different ways. He then spreads the cards out for everyone to see: they are in perfect numerical and sequential order.
The twist, as it were, doesn’t come until seven minutes into the film’s brisk 85-minute runtime: Richard Turner can’t see. Stricken with macular dystrophy at a young age, Turner lost most of his vision overnight and the little he retained degraded over time until all that was left was darkness. Dealt explores the impact his blindness had on his life and the people closest to him, and how he overcame seemingly impossible odds to become one of—if not the—world’s greatest close-up magicians living today.
Where Dealt, directed by Luke Korem (Lord Montagu), is elevated beyond the typical driven-individual-conquers-adversity narrative is in how it’s as much about how Turner comes to terms with his own personal demons as it is about living without sight. As the documentary crew follows Turner around his home and at various appearances around the globe over the course of a few years in the early 2010s, Dealt posits that he doesn’t so much as want to be successful in spite of his blindness; he wants to live as if he isn’t blind at all.
The film delves into to old photographs and Super-8 footage of a young Turner climbing mountains, traipsing carefully on a thin branch held aloft over a waterfall, studying martial arts. His friends recount tales of Turner watching the lines on the side of the road as a guide while he sped down the highway on a motorcycle. He wouldn’t use a cane. He hated the word ‘blind’. He didn’t even tell his then-fiancee that he was likely to lose his sight completely until after they were married. To Turner, these were all details he could deal with like any other person, and he talks about the events of his life with a deceptive charm that belies his intensity and decades of struggle.
Eventually, he channeled his brash impulses into studying cards. While perhaps less reckless, he’s no less obsessed, spending up to sixteen hours a day shuffling and dealing cards like an unconscious tic. He shows off a closet, packed to the ceiling with unopened decks of playing cards. Turner talks about his cards in terms of vices, mentioning the “vintage” of a particular year of card, or referring to his “three-pack-a-day” habit as if he was trying to cut back on smoking. The camera takes time to linger on idle moments on the couch, chats with his son on a fishing trip, an outing in the city with his wife; no matter where he is, he is rarely seen without cards in one of his hands, constantly fiddling with them and turning them over. Turner isn’t just devoted to handling cards; it’s as if he is possessed by them.
But there’s one refrain that echoes throughout the entire film: Turner wants to be recognized on his own merits, not because of his handicap. He talks about going on talk shows and showing off all the ways cheaters can manipulate a deck of cards, while the film plays old clips from interviews and performances, each one with a host who can’t seem to wait to talk about Turner’s disability. And it’s not just cards: when the story of Turner’s triumph during a brutal test for his black belt made it into the LA Times, Turner hardly showed it to anyone because the headline mentioned he was blind.
These moments of reflection and regret are juxtaposed by interviews with Turner’s sister, Lori Dragt. Afflicted with the same disease a year after Turner, Dragt lost her sight far more rapidly, spending the majority of her life completely blind. Rather than try to act like everything was normal, Lori embraced her own disability, accepting the things she can or cannot control, and planning her life around her blindness accordingly. While Dealt is very much about Richard and his magic, both of their stories are elegantly weaved together, offering two journeys down a similar path and exploring the different ways we lean on others, even when we would prefer not to admit it.
Again, a lot of this is well-worn territory for documentaries and human interest stories, but Dealt is smart enough to leave out the after-school special sermonizing or maudlin narration. Turner’s story could have just as easily come across as too schmaltzy or overly melodramatic, but it’s not. Instead, his journey from arrogant defiance to acceptance of his own limitations comes across as unexpected and surprisingly honest because it allows us to make those connections without being spoon-fed or over-sentimentalizing Turner or his family.
Dealt covers a lot of ground in a short amount of time, but it does so with grace, with an often hands-off approach that lets its subjects—and the fliiiiiiit of one of Turner’s many riffle shuffles—speak for themselves. Whatever your magical knowledge or skill level is, Dealt manages to be an entertaining and fascinating character study by never forgetting the real, oftentimes painful cost at the heart of any obsession, and the realization that success, however we define it, is as much shaped by our own abilities as it is by the people who help us achieve it.
Dealt opens in select New York theaters on Friday, October 20, as well as on cable and digital video-on-demand services, including iTunes, Amazon Video, Google Play, and more. Dealt will expand to additional select theaters across North America on October 27. For a full list of available video-on-demand services and theaters, visit the official website.
Richard Turner would prefer if you forgot that he’s blind. He’d much rather you appreciated his remarkable card-maneuvering abilities on their own merits, and man, what merits they are. The subject of upcoming documentary Dealt, Turner is astounding when it comes to manipulating cards, as Penn & Teller learned when he fooled them. His line in the trailer about being a “card mechanic” is maybe the most gangster thing a magician has ever said.
Dealt was a winner of SXSW Audience Award in 2017, and will be in theaters and on demand this October 20.