Archive for the ‘Four Points’ Category

FOUR POINTS: Snow days are bonus days you can use to better your magic

Monday, March 2nd, 2015


FOUR POINTS: Snow days are bonus days you can use to better your magic

Ellusionist is a worldwide company, so we know about the different weather our customers deal with. For North Americans, snowfall has been a problem, especially in the New England area, where Boston has dealt with record amounts. On the other side of the globe, summer has hit particularly hard in Australia, marked by the second-warmest February on record.

Whether it’s extreme cold or extreme heat, what those two things have in common is that you’ll be stuck inside. And maybe that means you get a day off. Classes canceled? Boss tell you to stay home? It’s a surprise extra day that you can use to veg out or catch up on work or a TV show.

Or you could use it for your magic.

A weather-related vacay day gives you the perfect chance to level up your game, and get ready for when the weather is better. And that shared cabin fever between you and your neighbors means the community is primed for your performance. Here’s four suggestions: (more…)

FOUR POINTS: Remember these when trying to get media coverage

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015


FOUR POINTS: Remember these when trying to get media coverage

Check out this story about magician Jay Shatnawi, of Windsor, California. It’s a great piece with an amazing photo, a good write-up of his performances at a Petaluma steakhouse and a a ballsy performance for Criss Angel and his “Believe” audience. The Press Democrat isn’t the New York Times, but that doesn’t matter to its readers. It’s a great story about one of their own community members, a rising star with talent to share and a story to tell.

That should raise the question: Why not you?

You live near a newspaper, or TV station. You perform magic. You have a story to tell, and you’d make a great subject for a story! You’re gonna start writing press releases right now, right? Wait, no! Just drive to the TV station! They’ll put you on live instantly!

Slow down. In addition to writing for Ellusionist and a performing close-up magician, I am the features editor for a daily newspaper in the Midwest, and I can tell you exactly what happens to most overly aggressive news seekers. To put it in magician’s terms, there’s a lot of ditching involved.

That doesn’t mean I’m a heartless editor. My position as features editor means I’m a little more accepting and flexible for a variety of stories, because I’m in charge of the sections people WANT to read, not what they NEED to read. I’m always looking for stories about people in our coverage area, and your story may be quite newsworthy.

So you should definitely pursue media coverage, if you think it will benefit you. But you should have reasonable expectations of the reception you’ll get from the media, and what — if any — kind of coverage you’ll get. We could dive into how to write a good press release, how to ask for coverage, etc. — but for now, the best thing to know is a little bit about the media business. I’m happy to share these four points, and hope they help you get good local coverage. (more…)

FOUR POINTS: Reasons why practice is just as addictive as performing

Thursday, February 19th, 2015


FOUR POINTS: Reasons why practice is just as addictive as performing

Magicians quickly learn that when they dive into magic, they have actually picked up two activites: The art of practicing magic, and the art of performing magic. At Ellusionist, we are musicians, actors, photographers, speakers, athletes, crafters and more. Our staff members do a variety of things that require practice or rehearsal.

But none of those other arts or activities have such a clear separation between practice and performance.

We all know this. It’s why we recognize how the thrill of mastery is completely separate from the thrill of entertaining — but just as addictive. It’s why hobbyists sometimes practice just as hard as pros. It’s why magicians get together in groups and jams more than any other field of art we’ve seen. It’s why we have decks of cards specifically for shows and other decks specifically for practice sessions — and those decks are nicer than the performance ones, aren’t they? (We imagine you’ll keep a healthy stash of Black Kings for yourself, just for that reason.)

Dai Vernon was a relentless rehearser. And even S.W. Erdnase wrote about the thrill of learning:

“The enthusiast will not rest until every sleight in the calendar has been perfectly mastered, so that he may be enabled to nonplus and squelch that particularly obnoxious but ever present individual, who with his smattering of the commoner sleights always knows ‘exactly how it is done.’ Acquiring the art is in itself a most fascinating pastime, and the student will need no further incentive the moment the least progress is made.”

But the WHY behind it is fascinating, and gives us clues about how tightly magic gets tied into our way of life, in such a way that other arts can’t even touch: (more…)

FOUR POINTS: Reasons why teaching the ACR took a full video

Thursday, February 5th, 2015


FOUR POINTS: Reasons why teaching the ACR took a full video

Despite the amount of material we’ve released over an almost 15-year period, our older material still draws attention, and none more so than Crash Course 2. The video teaching the ambitious card routine (ACR) has been one of our best-reviewed videos because it features Brad’s teaching style at its best, and it’s packed full like a Southern bell’s suitcase with sleights, moves and ideas.

Released in 2003, it marked a departure from Crash Course 1, which taught several stand-alone routines from beginning to end. With a concept of teaching the ACR, it taught so much more than a routine — it taught how to make OUR OWN routines. The ACR is a classic of magic: It was a specific variation of that trick that Dai Vernon used to fool Houdini. It can be done myriad ways with a borrowed deck of cards. Every card worker has their take on it, and usually relies on some form of it as their go-to trick.

That means there’s no one way to teach an ACR. There are multiple ways, and that’s exactly the approach Brad Christian took with the video. And that approach makes Crash Course 2.

FOUR POINTS: Reasons why teaching the ACR took a full video

Performances

Crash Course 2 offers some of the best examples of learning by watching. The video was PACKED with performances of the effects taught. It gave watchers a chance to see exactly how the sleights played to real people, and how some performances don’t exactly go as planned, but still look magical. We also got to see so many great reactions, from the kid with the “Jackass” shirt to the girls Nate Staniforth performed for.

Utility

At its core, Crash Course 2 is a video packed with controls — a lot of different ways to accomplish the same thing. How many different ways do we REALLY need to know how to get a card to a certain position? The serious answer is simple: A LOT. For many, Crash Course 2 was a first toolbox, or arsenal. It gave magicians many options of accomplishing a certain task, and that freed up creativity.

Versatility

The moves taught in Crash Course 2 go way beyond one-hit wonders. Many of those moves can be adapted for other purposes. Take the push-off double lift, for instance: It works at either the front of a trick to show a card going somewhere it’s really not, or it can be used at the end of a trick to reveal what a card really isn’t. By learning all the different uses for a sleight, the video taught a powerful lesson about using sleights in different ways.

Ownership

This is probably the most important point: The other three points basically give magicians the power to create their own routines based on their performance character. David Blaine got many interested in magic, but one thing the video drives home is that people don’t want to see magic tricks performed — they want to see a GREAT MAGICIAN performing magic. Learning a variety of sleights and different ways to use them lets magicians take ownership of their own magic, and that’s the best lesson of all.

FOUR POINTS is a regular feature that celebrates magicians’ favorite number by highlighting four critical bits of importance, awesomeness or otherwise. Send your suggestions to joe@ellusionist.com.

FOUR POINTS: Ready to meet your idol? Prepare for the possibility

Monday, January 19th, 2015


FOUR POINTS: Ready to meet your idol? Prepare for the possibility

It doesn’t happen very often, but when you get to meet someone you idolize, it’s an incredible moment.

It happened to Resh Gohel, of Darwen, England. The magician is also the owner of Resh’s Restaurant, and his guests last week included two of his favorites: David Blaine and Derren Brown. He got a chance to tell each of them about how the magicians inspired him to pursue magic — Gohel, a performer who works weddings and corporate events, hopes to leave the restaurant behind and perform full-time.

Gohel got to express his gratitude for discovering how magic can influence people’s lives.

“The main thing I love about it is that everybody has problems in their lives, but when you perform to somebody and do something that wows them, they forget about them,” he said to the Lancashire Telegraph. “You know for a fact that they are bamboozled and that they have forgotten about everything else. Nothing else matters for those few minutes.”

The story got us thinking: Are you ready to meet your idol? What would you do if you did? Squeal and giggle? Pump ‘em for information? Get an autograph? We believe in the power of positive thinking, so it never hurts to mentally prepare to meet the person who inspires you. And the exchange might help give you some motivation or insight to help push your magic to the next level. Here’s some tips:  (more…)