From Concept to Completion

One of the pleasures of being in a creative industry is that I get to travel to new places and work with very talented people. IMG_1349Last month I traveled to East Waterford, Pennsylvania   to work with The Moogician, Todd Charles. You may recall the promo video we made for Todd last year. Shortly after that project Todd came to me with a fun concept for a parody music video. In addition to performing magic, Todd is also an accomplished musician and had previously recorded two parody songs that he wrote.

It is with great pleasure and amusement that I share with you this month two music videos that I shot and edited, on location. First up is a lively, toe-tapping song all about cheese!

IMG_1356We filmed this all around New York City in just one day; hitting all the iconic landmarks from the Statue of Liberty to Rockefeller Center. Shooting from the rooftop gave us an even greater perspective of the city but was also the most challenging for me as I am not a fan of heights. And, despite initial weather reports of heavy rain, it turned out to be a perfect day in New York!

The second song, The Milk Song, we filmed over two days at the Lovetwo Farm dairy farm in Pennsylvania.

IMG_1331This was quite a unique experience for me as I had never been on a dairy farm nor had I filmed cows before. It was interesting to see how much the cows interacted with us and the camera.  We definitely had some very “happy accidents” that made it into the final edit. I could not imagine a better location to film a song devoted to milk!

A big thanks to Dan Love at Lovetwo Farm, and especially to Todd Charles for writing and recording these fun songs and giving me the opportunity to collaborate on bringing them to life!


Establishing Credibility

When creating any type of promo video one of the biggest challenges is to grab the viewer’s attention and hold their interest. A good promo video should make us care. One of the most effective ways to make people care is by establishing credibility.

This month I would like to share a set of videos we have recently completed for magician Bill Cook.  Bill is a very talented performer with skills as a close up magician as well as a stage magician.  One of the things that makes Bill such a talent is his personality and energy, on stage and off. Bill has been a very good friend of mine for years and recently approached me about putting together a new sizzle video and demo video of his current show. I flew out to Chicago to film two of Bill’s performances and shoot some card flourishes to be used for transitions.  I also worked with some of the existing footage he had to show an even more diverse repertoire. In addition, Bill also had several clips from news shows he had been featured on.  TV appearances are always great for building status. By choosing to open the video with those clips cut to a rhythmic sequence, we get a very impactful opening that immediately establishes Bill’s credibility as a professional magician.

After piquing someone’s interest with a sizzle video, a longer demo video can help convey more of the unique selling points.

Seeing is Believing

One of the things I hear from my clients is their desire to form long-lasting relationships with their customers. With all of the digital noise in the world today, it can seem challenging just to get their attention. The biggest benefit that a video provides is engagement. Images, words, colors, and sound all blend together to give a multi-sensory experience. There is no doubt that video can give us a deeper connection with people, and them with us. When we see people have emotional experiences (as opposed to reading about them) we have a greater connection.

A promo video does not always have to be a “pitch video”. One example is a recent video I shot and edited for magician David Reed-Brown.

David’s show is all about enlightening people with life-lessons through visual metaphors. The magic he performs is very heartfelt and meaningful. Therefore, a flashy, high-energy sizzle video would not suit his style, and would not effectively communicate the right message. Instead, we chose to focus on his story, told by him talking about his work. In turn, this promo video of his show takes on more of a documentary style, profiling him and his work. People watching the video feel like they get to know him. And get a deeper understanding of who he is.

Brand Consistency

One of the pieces of advice I give to my clients as we begin planning their video project is to think about the look they are trying to sell. Since we are often our own brand, it is important to make sure everything we put out for the public to see matches the image we want to convey (and accurately represents our products and services).  This consistent look is extremely important for effective marketing.  The look people see on a postcard or flyer that sends them to your website should reflect the image they see on your website, and so on.

I recently completed a show promo video for a magician in Switzerland. His website ( has a very elegant, distinct look; from the purple wallpaper and gold picture frames to his stylish logo. My goal was to capture that aesthetic in his video.

I created a 3D version of this 2D image with picture frames on a wall that would serve as transitions between each sequence of clips. All of the performance footage in this video was provided by Jad. I consulted with Jad about capturing his show on video, shooting from different angles, getting wide shots as well as close up, and what routines would look best in a montage-style video.  Over the months that followed, Jad would send me new footage as he did more shows. Once we had collected a substantial amount of high quality footage, I began working on the motion graphics and editing the footage together to fit the nonlinear structure.  After layering in music and titles with a professional Voiceover, the result is a promotional video that is consistent with his brand:


Last night on Mystery School Monday we discussed the topic of Preparing for a Show. How do magicians prepare? What is the process a performer goes through to ensure their performance is a success? This great short film by Joe Larue shows exactly that!

Pioneers of CineMagic – Jan Svankmajer

Jan Svankmajer is a surrealist filmmaker from the Czech Republic. His stop motion technique of film making and clever story-telling have influenced many artists worldwide, including Terry Gilliam, Tim Burton, Brothers Quay, and most definitely ME. His films often depict dreams and nightmares in a humorous fashion. In addition to making 27 short films, he has also created six feature-length films. View his entire filmography here.

His first short film was made in 1964, called The Last Trick. This film depicts two rival magicians who try to outdo each other performing their tricks. However, tensions begin to rise…

Enjoy The Last Trick.

Pioneers of CineMagic – Georges Méliès

This month on my Mystery School Monday CineMagic segments I am featuring pioneers in CineMagic films. Each week I will be featuring a film that pushed the boundaries of what was possible with the medium of film. These films predate any kind of modern special effects. With only 8 mm celluloid and lots of creativity these magicians explored new possibilities and, as a result, have inspired many artists along the way.

First up is one of my favorite films by Georges Méliès.  Georges Méliès was a stage magician who later became a filmmaker after seeing the a demonstration in moving pictures by the Lumiere Brothers. Over the course of his life he made over 200 films, many of which involved magic or the use of magic principles to achieve special effects.  He was also one of the first filmmakers to manipulate reality by utilizing trick photography.  The Four Troublesome Heads was one of his earliest films with trick photography, made in 1898.  Enjoy!