Archive for the ‘Artist Interviews’ Category

Artist Interview: Mat Franco’s “AGT” win was good for all magicians

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

Artist Interview: Mat Francos AGT win was good for all magicians

His plan was to get some footage that he could use for his promo reel, so that he could advertise himself with the phrase, “As seen on ‘America’s Got Talent.’”

But Mat Franco went much further.

The magician made history by becoming the first magician to win NBC’s talent show. Winning over viewers in season nine, he beat singers Miguel Dakota, Quintavious Johnson and Emily West, the band Sons of Serendip and the acrobatic ensemble AcroArmy. And season nine was a good year for magicians, with Mike Super, Smoothini, and David and Leaman progressing far in the competition.

A magician winning “AGT” is no small feat — magicians know that the show has a history of not being kind to magicians. And though that reputation has changed over the last few seasons, magicians were still competing against singers and dancers, two performance fields with their own reality TV shows.

So when Mat said his win is a big deal for all magicians, we say “Amen.” He also said that his win didn’t pull magic out of a dark cellar of obscurity — his win was just the latest chapter in a pretty vibrant magic scene right now, from Darcy Oake making the finals in the most recent season of “Britain’s Got Talent” to the success of “Wizard Wars” on SyFy.

“This is huge for magicians. This is something we all should be feeding from, we should all be getting work from right now … We should all be feeding off this any way can, whether you had a television pilot you were trying to get done, or if you had a gig you were trying to close in your hometown, this is big for magic. I want us all to continue with this momentum to move it forward.”

Artist Interview: Mat Francos AGT win was good for all magiciansMat beat out a talented field of performers with a carefully customized blend of close-up magic and big-stage spectacle. His routines included close-up classics, including an ambitious card routine, cups and balls and an oil and water routine that used a human deck of cards. They also featured intricate stories told in precision with magical effects.

About two weeks after the win, Mat talked to us for a podcast about his career before the show, how it really is a different world for magicians on the show now and what the future holds.


Made to ‘shake foundations’: Justin Miller’s BOLD Project filled with his most evocative, astonishing effects

Friday, March 7th, 2014

Made to shake foundations: Justin Millers BOLD Project filled with his most evocative, astonishing effects

Maybe it started when he was performing in Las Vegas with Lance Burton’s show at the Monte Carlo. Maybe it was when he delivered his first magic lecture at 13, or managed a magic shop at 15. Maybe it started during his first shows, held in his garage when he was 7.

Justin Miller really can’t point to a time when he hasn’t had a fearless attitude about magic.

“It did not come overnight, but it did come easily for me,” Miller said. “I have no idea why; it just did. That’s not to say that in the beginning, 13 years old or so, that I was not shaking every time I performed for anyone, because I most definitely did!”

The more he performed, the more confident he grew in what he showed. That confidence bred an attitude to try anything and everything in order to get more astonishing reactions.


Ollie Mealing: Move-monkey is a good goal, but this one is better

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Ollie Mealing: Move monkey is a good goal, but this one is better

We all wear the badge “move-monkey” with pride. Ollie Mealing is definitely one, as evidenced by his work with Control. But if you’ve seen his YouTube videos, his effects are about so much more than doing a move. This is the thought process that helps Ollie create real magic.

I love chasing a new move, generally the more profound it is, the more interested I am in pursuing it – possibly because it leads to a greater sense of achievement or perhaps the idea of an unpredictable journey is too seductive to shake off. Regardless of the challenge, I find it to be a thrilling experience from the start – the discovery, the development, the accomplishment & the resultant new addition to your arsenal as well as new lessons learnt along the way.

Through this addictively satisfying process, it’s no wonder that so many of us consider ourselves as ‘move-monkeys’. While I think this title is beneficial, we should place focus towards becoming it’s older, wiser accomplice – an ‘effect-monkey’.



Ollie Mealing: First impression carries loads of impact for your performances

Saturday, February 8th, 2014

Ollie Mealing: First impression carries loads of impact for your performances

The real work isn’t only in the sleights. It’s in your scripts, your presentation, your demeanor — everything. Ollie Mealing, the creator of Control and Recoil, knows this firsthand. The experience he’s built through performing for corporate clients and working with Derren Brown has given him a sharp focus on all of those points. In this post, Ollie looks at the first impression, the moment that happens long before you get a chance to do a single trick. (photo credit Benji Taylor)

I believe to best achieve an aim, you must consider every contributing step. The subject of expectation is a prime example. By considering the path and process a thought takes, we can intervene along the way and plant tactical seeds to encourage the desired expectation.

With that in mind, those first few precious seconds between performer and audience have always interested me. Upon first glance they’re trivial, forgotten moments, but upon closer examination they provide a foundation for either success or failure — by instilling an impression and consequently an expectation.

To understand how to influence an expectation to our greatest advantage, we first need to understand which factors contribute towards building an impression, of which there’s many. Inherently all these factors fall under appearance — the way you’re dressed, your body language, facial expression, hygiene, the way you talk, the words you use, if/how you shake their hand, if you’re holding anything — in fact anything sensible serves to form a mental image in the audiences mind. Understanding the messages (or subtext) these factors carry allows you to modify each one to ensure you are perceived as you both wish and require — not every situation will warrant the the same impression.


Ollie Mealing: Finding a table helps strengthen strolling performances

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Ollie Mealing: Finding a table helps strengthen strolling performances

Ollie Mealing, creator of Control and Recoil, has worked his share of corporate events, parties and other performances. One of the secrets to his success at a strolling gig is, surprisingly, parking it at a table. The following are his thoughts about what a table can do for the working magician.

For many years I’ve been a regular performer at large scale events and in that time, I’ve prudently geared my material towards working at my own allocated table – a format which I believe (for such an environment) leads to the greatest desirable outcome. The concept isn’t original or groundbreaking, and possibly underwhelming to hear, but simplicity is often complexity in disguise.

The Audience

Within minutes of arriving at an event, you’ve noticed a large group of occupied guests, all gathered in a semi-circular fashion, their backs towards you, an oddity that quite literally stands out. The cause of their accumulation is currently indiscernible, but instantaneously your wise instincts raise a conclusive flag that SOMETHING in that vicinity is happening – a thing that evidently must be of value to have captured the attention and time of your fellow guests.

Your options are as follows: You can either stroll across and have your curiosity delightfully quenched, or secure a drink and engage in conversation, where the puzzling subject is destined to resurface. Both outcomes will ultimately end in your favour, as finally you’ll have discovered that the recent applause which cheerily beamed from the area of concern was generated most wonderfully by a magician — though ideally you’d have already acquired this knowledge firsthand & are partly responsible for that very applause, pleasantly finding yourself as a newly astounded contributor to the acclamation.

Now that your inquisition has been sated, you’re now privy to the secret and equipped with an exciting talking point. If you weren’t initially enticed, your swift beeline towards the action will imminently ensue, or amicably instead, you’ve opted to find a friend for the jaunt. But undoubtedly that moment of involvement is inescapably impending — perhaps when your social threshold needs recharging or, if you need an excuse to decamp or just simply because you’re too intrigued (the latter obviously being preferable), then you too will become an integral member of the alluring group, witnessing for yourself who everyone’s been talking about and feeling rejoiced that you did.

From that moment on, you spend your evening intermittently sharing the tale of your enthralling experience — continuing to propagate and embed a joyous memory.

Ollie Mealing: Finding a table helps strengthen strolling performances

The Magician

After much deliberation, you’ve chosen the prime spot to base yourself. The guests are beginning to appear and all that’s entailed to bring forth your eventual hub of mystery and magic is to coax an audience into position.

From this point on, the fun is as much yours as it is theirs. A self-sustaining audience full of high expectations who have excitedly approached and accepted you in exchange for amazement — what more could you ask for?

Shortly into your set, you realize your performances are no longer disjointed and vulnerable to mistimed introductions, interruptions or imposing remarks, because whilst in your zone, the onus for a respectable demeanour is their duty. Under these circumstances, being surrounded by an enthusiastic, eager and cordial crowd, you’re able to relish in the perks of feeling at ease, you’re able to take full of advantage of copious table space without the flow-deadening hassle of making space and you’re able to maintain your optimal performance flow — which conveniently reciprocates back to the audience as reassurance, further building anticipation and establishing rapport.

Importantly, tricks can transgress to magic, as you’re able to partner your material with the attention it rightfully deserves — gratifyingly being able to provide your audience with the exact experience you want to instill.

This is all very well in theory, but in reality the advantages are only truly manifested if you’re able to fit the environment and deliver suitable material — for which, feasible adaptations may need to be made. But from my own experience it’s a worthwhile pursuit, as this presentational technique has immeasurably transformed the way I approach, view and enjoy a performance.

Discovering what works best for you and your audience is for me, the primary joy and key to creating magic — a personal process which unveils answers unique to you. I hope the above will prove worthy of your time & take you a step closer to a new and exciting revelation.