Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Spirit of jam sessions inspired Syfy’s ‘Wizard Wars,’ a show about creation

Sunday, August 10th, 2014


Spirit of jam sessions inspired Syfys Wizard Wars, a show about creation

Rick Lax, like any magician, loves jam sessions. Every week he gets together with Justin Flom, Bizzaro and others for a creative crash. Those sessions were so crazy that they inspired him to create a reality TV show concept.

“Sometimes our jam sessions are more entertaining than the magic that comes out of them,” Lax said. “That got me wondering how to get people to care about the magicians’ creative process. And the reality competition format seemed like a perfect fit.”

That competition starts at 10 p.m. EST Tuesday, Aug. 19, with the debut episode of “Wizard Wars.” Featuring Lax, Flom, Penn & Teller, Shimshi, Murray SawChuck, Angela Funovitz, Nathan Burton and other Las Vegas performers, magicians will compete to create the best magic tricks possible.

The show will give a spotlight to the creators of magic, who are unheralded, unsung heroes, he said. Dan Hauss, Ekaterina Dhobrokotova, Blake Vogt, Gregory Wilson and others will be featured on the show, and Dan White and Johnny Thompson work behind the scenes.

Creation, not revelation

The concept of the show might raise questions about trick revelation among magicians. Lax said that’s not the case: The creative process is featured, not the end result of a trick.

Competitors will be featured in a magic workshop, charged with meeting a goal and developing ways to accomplish that goal. While audience members will get a peek behind the curtain, it doesn’t get pulled back completely. The only methods that might get revealed are ones that don’t get used.

“Let’s say the secret item is ‘tennis ball,’ and one magician does a trick where the ball vanishes from one hand and reappears in her other hand,” he said. “If the method she ultimately decides on is a duplicate ball, we’re not going to show the duplicate ball. But let’s say that before she figured out to use the duplicate, she tried to build an elastic contraption that would bring a ball up one sleeve and down the other. That’s something we might show.”

Each episode will feature the creative process — the unique thinking that leads to moments of brillance, resulting in the creation of a beautiful illusion. The competitive format will give creators the spotlight — names that magicians know like others know pop singers.

“(The concept) means so much to me because magic creators never really get the national spotlight,” Lax said. “Guys like Gregory Wilson or Blake Vogt. You see their tricks being performed everywhere, but you so rarely get to see them in front of the cameras. ‘Wizard Wars’ is their chance to shine.”

Spirit of jam sessions inspired Syfys Wizard Wars, a show about creation

Best network possible

According to a story on Wired.com, Lax pitched his idea to a bunch of networks. Syfy was the last pitch, and the one that picked up the idea. The pickup was double-sweet, Lax said — all because of a bunch of people who did movie makeup, and the TV viewers who watched them.

“I’m a huge ‘Face Off’ fan. Seen every episode,” Lax said. “And in ‘Face Off,’ Syfy masterfully got people who knew nothing about special effects makeup to care about special effects makeup. So the hope is it can do the same for the magic creative process.”

A magic reality show is different than other talent-based shows, because of the secrecy of methods. Lax said “Wizard Wars” focuses on laymen, but magicians will appreciate incredibly good magic and how challengers are treated with respect. The competition is intense and heated, but the featuring of quality magicians means plenty of respect between each other.

And magicians will find plenty to learn and apply to their own acts, Lax said.

“Note the show’s judging criteria: creativity, originality and deceptiveness. The best magic acts have elements of all three,” Lax said. “Think about how to make the trick your own. And think about how to make it entertaining, not just deceptive. Communication and connection are so important.”

Longtime forum leader makes U.S. performance debut in NYC

Thursday, July 17th, 2014


Longtime forum leader makes U.S. performance debut in NYC

Arvind Jayashankar has performed shows across the world — all over Europe, in Asia and in South America. While he’s traveled to the U.S. before, he’s never performed a show in the states.

Until now.

One of Ellusionist’s longest-running Performance HQ Forum leaders will make his U.S. performance debut with a special one-night-only, off-Broadway fundraising show Monday, July 21, in New York City. “”Reality: Surrender to Wonder” will feature his brand of mentalism featuring mind reading, mind control, hypnosis and more. The show will benefit Life Vest Inside, a grassroots non-profit with the aim of spreading kindness and helping people realize their potential and increase their self-esteem.

Arvind connected with the group through helping a friend promote and market a local leg of a worldwide flash mob called “Dance for Kindness.” Through that connection, he met Orly Wahba, the founder of Life Vest Inside.

“I learned more about the goals and visions of the group and was deeply impressed by them and their highly motivated team,” Arvind said. “They run various programs, such as educating people about kindness and make extensive use of social media aiming to inspire acts of kindness, charity and human connection. In a way, when we perform magic, I think we also share similar goals.”

“Reality” differs from what Arvind has performed in the past. It includes his take on classic effects and some favorites from earlier shows.

“It is a mentalism-themed show that aims at making you question whether what you are experiencing is real or not, in addition to giving you a different perspective of reality,” Arvind said. “I’ve tried my best to design this from the ground up based on my past experiences.”

All the proceeds for the show will benefit Life Vest Inside. Tickets are available from Eventbrite — use the code “Summer14″ for a discount. If you’re near New York City, DO NOT MISS this chance to see one of our longest-running, most respected forum members work his magic.

Ollie Mealing: Need inspiration for your magic? You have to look for it

Saturday, June 21st, 2014


Ollie Mealing, creator of Control and Recoil, has worked his share of corporate events, parties and other performances, and is a consultant for Derren Brown. He’s also created a series of incredible performance videos that have amazed thousands of viewers. These are his thoughts about finding creative inspiration when in need of it.

Ollie Mealing: Need inspiration for your magic? You have to look for itBecoming a magician is primarily a solo venture. The extent of what you’re able to grasp is determined by how far you reach.

For that reason, when you’re not hitting your goal, it may not necessarily be due to lack of effort (although persistence is essential), it could simply be because of investing too much effort into the wrong actions. So with that in mind, the question we need to ask ourselves is what other actions are at our disposal.

The answer is an unlimited amount. Actions are the result of actively responding to inspiration, inspiration is the result of processing various stimuli and, in turn, being exposed to various stimuli is the result of you seeking it.

In order to expand your magic you need to expand your mind.

Imagine a pool of water: To remain fresh, it needs a constant steady flow of water entering it. The same imagery is applicable to your mind — a constant steady flow of inspiration is constructive towards discovering new possible actions.

You can only get as far as the tools you give yourself, without taking new actions and ADDING to what you have, you’ll struggle to progress. Consider a vehicle: Without topping off the fuel it can’t sustain infinite movement. Progression is always the result of addition, even if scrapping an action is necessary, the reason to do so is from the addition of a thought.

It’s a common sensation to feel that our ability to progress has hit a wall. I think this is related to the eventual trapping of ourselves into patterns or routines. These are comfortable, they give us an important sense of control (plug), but they limit the stimuli we’re exposed to, which creatively risks stunting our development/awareness of new actions.

I remember a Tony Robbins quote: “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”

So when all else seems redundant, the key to progression (in my mind) is variety, intent and application. Actively seek fresh stimuli, extract ideas from them and act upon as you deem necessary.

The rules you abide by dictate the game you play.




Ollie Mealing: Without the challenge, learning magic would be pointless

Thursday, June 12th, 2014


Ollie Mealing, creator of Control and Recoil, has worked his share of corporate events, parties and other performances, and is a consultant for Derren Brown. He’s succeeded and achieved new heights in a field of performance that isn’t exactly easy to master, but the challenge has been worth it. The following are his thoughts about magic’s difficulty and rewards.

Ollie Mealing: Without the challenge, learning magic would be pointlessBecoming a magician is without doubt the greatest challenge I’ve ever taken on board. The scale of the challenge is overwhelming, and I’d be lying if I said I’d never considered throwing in the towel.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The trick to a challenge is persistence, the trick to persistence is loving the challenge and the trick to loving the challenge is learning to appreciate everything that’s thrown at you. This mindset allows you to reap happiness and insight from the entire journey, both essential ingredients for further progression.

Consider how unfulfilling a pursuit magic would be without challenge:

  • ~ If anyone could effortlessly become a magician, there would be little sense of accomplishment.
  • ~ If secrets were easily accessible, the wonder instilled would be vulnerable and minimised.
  • ~ If you didn’t encounter problems, you’d miss out on the joy of discovering exciting and valuable solutions.
  • ~ If you didn’t need to stand out, you wouldn’t need to strive for originality, you’d risk missing out on exercising your creativity and tapping into your true potential.
  • ~ If you didn’t require advice and support, the opportunity to make new and impacting friendships would shrink.

Without challenge the range of material, role models, formats and theories would never be as diverse, rich and respected as they are today, and the scope for appreciation and enjoyment wouldn’t be as extensive.

Without challenge, you, me, this post — we would have never come into existence.

As long as we keep challenging ourselves, the art will remain vibrant and alive, therefore ever-growing and advantageous towards continual enjoyment for us and our audiences.

As long as there is challenge, the art and it’s undertaking will remain enriching. If you’re not feeling challenged, you’re missing out.

Set the bar high and enjoy the ride.

Whether in magic or marketing, creativity a way of life for Luke Dancy

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014


Whether in magic or marketing, creativity a way of life for Luke Dancy

It’s hard to find a facet of magic that Luke Dancy is unfamiliar with. And that applies to things that have nothing to do with magic — seemingly.

Luke has more than 25 years of experience as a magic creator, consultant and performer. But his magic has also helped him found a marketing company — he is the founder of Social Mischief. It’s such a great fit that it makes us wonder how more magicians haven’t dived into the field.

“I’ve talked to a lot of friends in the marketing world and it seems to be a natural fit for me as I create magic for other magicians and for television,” Luke said. “It’s really no different than creating a campaign for a brand or specific product. Marketing for me is a way to exploit those creative ideas and thoughts for the business world.”

Luke brings his marketing magic to Ellusionist: Last week he joined our staff as marketing manager. He’ll be actively involved on our website and social networks, fueling new promos and interacting with customers.

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