Making magic for kids is one of the greatest challenges for a performer, and that’s just as true when the performers are the same age as their audience. Adam Rodness and Stu Stone of 5’7 Films is the duo behind The Thrillusionists, a video series with three young magicians on CBC Kids. The pair spoke to Kidscreen about the process of creating the program.
“The kids space seemed like a natural place to explore because children love magic and there wasn’t much for this [demographic] other than shows about learning magic,” said Stone.
The Thrillusionists isn’t Stone’s first rodeo: he was also a producer for the Criss Angel series BeLIEve on Spike TV. He brought in Jesse Feinberg from that gig to be a consultant and executive producer for kids’ show.
“On BeLIEve, I was thrown into the deep end as far as magic goes. It was a surreal experience, not only in terms of the actual magic that Criss performs, but also in how the show was shot,” Stone said. “Filming a magic show is not like shooting a traditional reality show or scripted TV show where you go in, get the shot and move on. You have to deal with a lot of variables because you have to get the trick right, you have to fool someone in person and then also try to fool the audience at home. By the time the show wrapped, I felt like I gained a new skill set and wondered what else I could do.”
Read the full interview, including how they found the three cast members and prepped rehearsals, here on Kidscreen.
Dan Sperry’s particular flavor of shock illusions may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but I adore him and his whole weirdo thing. So it was nice to see him give his spin on magic history in a brief video clip from Decades. The classic television channel posted a YouTube video with Sperry sharing a few nuggets about some iconic performers over the ages and how professional magic has evolved. No matter what, he notes, it’s an art that is “best seen live.”
If you’re even a casual student of magic history, you’ll know that this is a cursory presentation at best. But listening to Sperry talk about legends like Doug Henning (who he endearingly calls a “goober”) and David Blaine is still a good time. Plus he does the interview accompanied by a large white parrot, further securing my deepest esteem.
NYC MEET UP!
Yo! This Saturday, I’m taking over Fantasma Magic shop in NYC from 1pm-5pm with @xspade1 !
FREE Entry, contests, prizes, Q&A and filming some videos! All ages allowed, no skill level required, just come hang out with us! I would love to meet you guys! ♥️ pic.twitter.com/XT4LCLgc8C
— Chris Ramsay (@chrisramsay52) April 24, 2018
The meet-up will run from 1pm to 5pm and boasts free entry, contests, prizes, and a high chance of appearing in one of Ramsay’s future videos.
Fantasma Magic Shop is at 213 W 35th Street, Suite 401, NYC 10001. While you’re there, you should check out The Houdini Museum of New York, conveniently located inside the store, which showcases a collection of the iconic escape artist’s locks, keys and picks, as well as illusions, archival footage, posters, journals and other collectables.
While you might have missed Miles’ set, which I’ve heard was pretty good, you can enjoy this brief, dialogue-free record of his journey through the land of freedom and hamburgers. The footage includes all the Las Vegas-ogling, trick-performing, and magic shop-exploring you’d expect from a magician, as well as a quick trip to Disneyland.
You can follow Miles’ exploits on Twitter here.
A few months ago, I teased that I had filmed for a new TV show… well, the first episode of #junkdrawermagicaladventures is airing May 5th on Universal Kids and I'm in it! Follow Akira Sky and Walker Ellis Satterwhite as they use magic… https://t.co/QVRGGfhc41
— Magic Asian Man (@naathanphan) April 15, 2018
Naathan Phan has been on the road charming audiences as a member of the latest Masters of Illusion tour. The multi-talented performer is also taking a turn on the small screen. He recently tweeted that he filmed an episode of an upcoming show called Junk Drawer Magical Adventures. The premiere is May 5 on Universal Kids, and Naathan is credited as simply playing himself.
The new show was inspired by a YouTube show titled Junk Drawer Magic, where two young performers teach viewers magic tricks that you can do with everyday objects. Both programs are from DreamWorksTV and star hosts Akira Sky and Walker Satterwhite.
While the YouTube version is pretty much a well-produced magic tutorial series, it seems like the upcoming television series will have a fictional and fantastical bent: the description of the first episode on imdb.com mentions both ghosts and resurrections. But the duo will probably use a mix of magic and MacGyvering to get out of the supernatural shenanigans.
Fresh off his performance at the YouTube FanFest in Mumbai, Collins Key spoke with The Indian Express about his rapid rise to online stardom. Like so many professionals, Key’s interest in the performing arts started young. He made his theater debut with a Shakespeare play at age four before discovering the interpersonal power of magic at just nine years old.
“Shakespeare and theatre was only on stage, but magic I could do everywhere for almost everyone,” Key said. “And the way I could connect with the people through that — it was really personal. I could see their reactions and responses. And that’s when I shifted my focus to magic.”
Maybe his stage training allowed him have that level of self-awareness at such a tender age. But his high-octane personality probably helped too.
“I have always had this crazy amount of energy. I was the kid who would be screamed at by parents, ‘sit down’ or ‘you will break something’. I thought it would burn down with age, but well it hasn’t.”
After training with the Magic Castle in Los Angeles, Key went on to a finalist run on season 8 of America’s Got Talent and now stars in a popular YouTube channel. In his videos, he does occasionally share magic tricks, but he’s more likely to be goofing around with his brother.
“It’s honest fun that the whole family can sit and enjoy together,” he said of his YouTube presence. In fact, more than 11 million fans are enjoying his videos together. Read the full interview here.
We here at GeniiOnline are well aware that dogs make good audiences for magic. They’ll never heckle you, try to ruin a trick or load an actual bullet into the pistol and shoot one of your fingers off like that guy in The Prestige. Man, imagine how different that film would have been if that guy had been a dog.
Anyway, the fella in that video up there at the top of the page is Simon Pierro: “The iPad Magician,” who, as you may have guessed, performs tricks with an Apple-branded shiny tray. He also gives very interesting talks about gathering and maintaining online audiences. Those videos aren’t quite as high on the cute-o-meter as this one, but they’re still pretty interesting.
Mentalist, mind reader, and committed “not psychic” Alex McAleer is currently touring the UK as part of the Champions of Magic. On April 1st, the Champions will be performing an April Fool’s Day show at the Norwich Theatre Royal. It’ll likely be a big theatrical, setpiece-driven show judging by their previous performances, but if you want to see McAleer do his mind-reading thing in a more intimate environment, here he is plying his trade on a polite British couple in the theater’s lobby:
The show starts at 7:30pm on April 1st. Tickets are on sale now.
Julius Dein is a good magician, that’s undeniable, but is he as good as Penn & Teller, David Blaine, David Copperfield or any other magic superstar you care to name? I imagine you’d argue no, but the 23-year-old Brit’s online presence is orders of magnitude larger than the world’s most famous and well paid magicians. On Instagram, David Blaine has 463,000 followers. Dein has 13 million. Does Instagram really matter that much? Enough that Blaine maintains (or pays someone to maintain) an online presence on the app. So what is Dein doing differently?
SEO. Search Engine Optimization. The art of tricking a search engine into putting your content higher up the search results for a given term. Those sites at the top? They get traffic boosts in the millions of hits. Like most social media stars, Dein spends a lot of time carefully considering his content and, more importantly, how it appears to search engines.
“I’m utterly obsessed,” he told Business Insider UK. “It consumes my entire life. I think about it from the moment I wake up and grab my phone to the moment I go to sleep at night.”
Not to belittle Dein’s sleight-of-hand chops (you don’t get as big as he is without top-tier patter and good hands) but it’s his skill with Youtube’s search algorithm’s that set him apart from rank and file magicians. And considering the absolute state of some professional magicians’ websites, it’s not hard to see why Dein is so far ahead of the pack.
On his website, Blake Vogt claims as “one of the most respected magicians in the industry,” and for good reason if this excellent trick he performed on The Late Late Show with James Cordon is anything to go by.
I’m not going to spoil the trick for you, other than to say it starts with Vogt asking James Cordon, Tony Hale and Jason Schwartzman to pick one of three stools and just gets weirder from there.
Of course, Vogt is quite comfortable to weirdness, being somewhat odd himself. When asked why magicians, on the whole, tend to be weird (and you do), Vogt told James Galea:
I think it takes a certain type of weirdness to want to practice the art of lying to people. There’s so much alone time that goes into it. A lot of normal people wouldn’t be willing to go through the amount of hours it takes to become a magician.
Those hours have clearly paid off for Vogt. He’s created magic tricks for top-tier magicians around the world, has worked as a consultant on a number of Hollywood film productions and has appeared on too many variety and television shows to list here.