220 entries categorized "Television"

The lunatics are still running The Asylum

It's been a while since I checked the website of THE ASYLUM - those producers of low budget knock offs of popular movies (the film world's version of Magic Makers).

They haven't missed a trick...

When James Cameron re-released TITANIC in 3D, they decided to cash in on the millions he spent on PR by releasing their new movie TITANIC 2.  

When ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE SLAYER came out, they were ready to cash in with ABRAHAM LINCOLN vs ZOMBIES


When THOR came out, Asylum brought out ALMIGHTY THOR (with wrestler Kevin Nash?!)


Now that HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS has hit the cinemas, Asylum has brought out HANSEL & GRETEL (even the font of the movie title is the same)


And, always ready, as the new big budget JACK THE GIANT SLAYER is about to be released, so is The Asylum's JACK THE GIANT KILLER


If only they would stop riding on the coat tails of other people's success and just stick to making the movies they make best... like MEGASHARK vs CROCOSAURUS



Anyway, enough of this rant, time to watch a quality Hollywood movie just starting on TV...


From my wall - #1


I have two walls in my downstairs office covered in odd bits of memorobilia. Visitors will often spend quite a bit of time just checking out of all odd photos and posters but I realised that most of you will never see these strange frozen moments of magic history so I thought it might be fun to share a few with you here.

The photo above is an original, signed David Copperfield poster dating back to the early 80's. 

I really have no recollection how I ended up with it, but it is definitely made out to me. What makes it special is (so I'm told) David signed his whole name. Apparently he only did that during the early part of his career and now, due to demand, he signs with a quick 'DC' type scrawl... so I feel very lucky to have this.

It's also a reminder of what many say was the "golden time" of his career. The early TV specials with the romantic vignettes, the routines that blended close up and grand illusions thanks to cameras, and slightly geeky more approachable DC.

Here's a clip from those days of David doing a more traditional illusion presentation. 

But boy, does he do it well.


The MMF12 on KidsWB

Earlier this year we staged the 2012 Melbourne Magic Festival. In addition to the 125+ performances spread over two weeks at the Northcote Town Hall, we had our good friends at KidsWB join us and shoot an entire episode right in the heart of "magic central".

For those who missed it, we've finally been able to get a copy of all the magic segments and post them online.

Big thanks to all the magicians both on screen and off screen, hostens Lauren and Andrew, the team at the Northcote Town Hall, the KidsWB film crew and, of course, producer Robert Mond who pulled it all together even though he was overseas at the time and missed out!


Penn & Teller: Fool Us

In a country where magic shows on TV are usually the "kiss of death" (Criss Angel lastest 3 episodes on Sunday night prime time, Derren Brown survived 2 at 10.30pm on Channel Nine) Penn & Teller: Fool Us has done surprisingly well late night, Saturday night on the ABC. Almost everyone I meet while performing has watched it. Even my parents sit up late to watch it!

So why is it that this show has managed to capture the attention of a nation uninterested in most things magical?

Penn & Teller are reknowned for treating their audiences as adults. They don't talk down to them, they don't pretend the magic is "real", they acknowledge that the main purpose of magic is to fool people and this show celebrates this.

After all, what do most people say when they watch Criss Angel, Derren Brown or David Copperfield: "That was so entertaining?" or "How did he do that?"

So, Penn & Teller are saying to the audience, "It's a puzzle. Can you figure out how they did it?"

Does this puzzle approach damage the art of magic?

I don't think so.

I think that Penn & Teller are simply acknowledging the 'elephant in the room' and celebrating it. As a result, they are giving the opportunity for dozens of magicians to get international TV exposure they otherwise wouldn't get.

Think about it. Take out the 'Fool Us' angle and watch that same show as a straight magic show, and suddenly it loses a huge amount of appeal. The "Will they fool Penn & Teller and go to Vegas?" and "Will I be able to figure it out" is the hook that gives the show a purpose for existing.

It is a little sad though, because as most magicians know, magic should never be presented as just a puzzle - but the majority of the magicians on the show (who are doing their regular acts) are doing nothing more than that. They are simply showing off. They are trying to fool us.

Yet, when Penn & Teller do their trick at the end of each episode, the who "show off" angle simply isn't there. Penn & Teller understand the idea of multi-layering. They create a presentation for the magic which is more engaging than the magic itself, then add the magic to enhance the presentation. If you watched the presentation without the magic, it would still be totally engaging - but can the same be said for the majority of "contestants" on 'Fool Us'?

When watching Penn & Teller perform, of course some people will still ask "How did they do that?" but they will also understand the message, the point, the purpose, the reason that Penn & Teller performed the trick for. 

There are so few magicians who understand this principle. 

Sure, you can do your magic and have everyone laughing hysterically, gasping in amazement, and giving you a standing ovation at the end of the show. But unless you can come up with a purpose for doing each routine you're still in the category of a "show off".

There's nothing wrong with that, it just depends on where you see yourself heading in your future: one of many competitors on another magician's TV show, or the magician whose name is in the title of the show?