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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Indie film unraveling the science of magic. (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Brad Ballew
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I am not a professional magician but have been a pretty devout hobbyist since I was a kid. I can look back and see how my path might have gone the magic route, but my love for filmmaking won out and I became a Producer/Director.

However, my love for magic has never waned in the slightest. In fact, I don't even want to guess at how much time and money I have invested in various marketed gimmicks, books, and videos over the years. Much that I have never even performed for anyone. I'd say I have a decent knowledge on the subject for someone who isn't a career magician.

My other love, apart from film, is science. I am a huge science nerd and as a result, a huge sci-fi geek. I have a particular interest in the sub-genre, "Hard Sci-Fi", which includes films like Interstellar, 2001 A Space Odyssey, Primer, Solaris, etc. I have been developing a hard sci-fi film concept that uses the magic community as a gateway to a deep and hidden world based on some of the wildest scientific concepts we've discovered or theorized about.

It shares some similarities with The Prestige in that it starts very grounded in the world of magic but eventually moves to something extraordinary that only the fringes of science can explain. This is not a big budget VFX extravaganza though. It's a smaller more cerebral low budget indie film more akin to something like Primer.

My goal is to explore the magic community honestly, and in an intriguing way but without uncovering too much. I'd love to discuss some of the in and outs of the magician's mindset and get some insight into how best to portray the different aspects of this diverse community. If anyone is interested in speaking with me about this topic or can recommend someone I can get in touch with then I would be most grateful. There is no immediate rush since I will be writing this script over the next few months and working on getting funding. This is very early on in development although the idea has been brewing for many years.
tommy
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Bear in mind that I am not a professional magician neither. My view is there are two sides to Our Magic, namely the patter and the magic. The two sides are opposites and form a double proposition, a conflict, a drama, and a dilemma. The patter side of it is appreciated as art. That is to say, the proposition in the patter is a known lie, a fiction and nobody rationally questions fiction: the audience simply go along with the fictional patter for their amusement. On the other hand, the magic side of it is science in effect. Certainly, science and magic work on the basis of reason and evidence. Like science, each step of the magic experiment is rationally questioned by the audience and so on. The magic side rationally proves that which the audience knows is a lie is true! Unlike science fiction or fantasy fiction, our magic happens in a real-world context. Unlike the real world, it is not impossible for sufficiently advanced technology to exist in a science fiction film set in the future or fantasy world.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Brad Ballew
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That's a good way of breaking it down and I'd agree. I'd go even further and say that often there can be science in the patter as well, more of the psychological variety, but science nonetheless. Understanding the human thought process can be leveraged to great effect. Mentalists do it regularly. A very simple example is the cross cut force which essentially uses time misdirection and implanting of false information via patter to force a card. Our brains will not hold on to information that it deems unimportant after a short amount of time, like which half of a deck came from where.

I don't want to openly dive too much into my story, but it does explore how far science, mathematics, psychology, etc. can be pushed to manipulate people on a larger scale. There will come a point when it leaves traditional magic behind and begins to follow something else entirely. The magic community is the gateway to a larger universe that I've been building for a number of years.

Imagine if we ended up following Tesla's story at the end of The Prestige instead of our two competing magicians and you have some idea of where I'm headed.

In fact, the creation of my story mirrors the creation of The Prestige in some respects. As I understand it, Christopher Priest initially intended to write a story specifically about Tesla and some of the seemingly reality-defying creations he invented. He later decided that Tesla should be a key secondary character and that the story should revolve around magic and eventually lead to a Tesla creation.

In the same way, my story was more focused on the science of my world, but then it made sense that the best way to show and explain the workings of this world was via the magic community. My main concern is to make sure that I represent the magic community honestly and don't cross any lines in regard to exposure, etc. For instance, you learn how a few popular effects work in The Prestige, but nothing that would upset the magic community.
Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
... cross any lines in regard to exposure...
Magic is about getting results. In this craft you can see the results in the faces of your audience when they recognize the impossible. And the backstage view? What people start to imagine about how things are done is usually more interesting than what's been time tested as practical and reliable. Have fun! Smile
...to all the coins I've dropped here
tommy
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This is a short classic book on Our Magic, which I think will help with that.

http://mazemagic.moy.su/Maskelyne-Our_Magic.pdf
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
tommy
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The book explains the difference between legitimate magicians and charlatans for example: in reality, there is a conflict, a drama going on between the two. For example, we have James Randi exposing Uri Geller. In a film one needs conflicts - good guys and bad guys.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Jonathan Townsend
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@Tommy, Brad - the story in the movie is pretty well explained by Michael Caine - about what one is willing to do and the price(s) of living half a life. Be that half a life as nobility or half a life as one of two. Then there's the matter of gold coins. No comment about a cat getting so many lives.

"Tesla" was probably happy to reenact his stage entrance during Station to Station. Smile
...to all the coins I've dropped here
tommy
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Today we live in the technological New World Order and artists by nature are rebelling against the order with a disorder, which is why we have modern art and magicians putting ghosts into machines. Smile
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
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