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.

Digital Magic

“Jordan takes the time to get it right.  I will recommend him to everyone I know.  He exceeded my expectations!!!”  –  Kevin James

I have just returned from Reno where I was filming Dirk Arthur’s Wild Magic show at Harrah’s. Dirk is just finishing up a 3-month run in Reno. His show features big illusions and big animals! One of things I enjoy most about working with clients is that each project presents a new challenge to create a video that matches their vision.

About a year ago Kevin James approached me about creating a new promo video to promote him to the corporate market.  He said he was looking for this to be the best promo video he’s ever had. I told him I would love to create that.  And throughout the time working on his project I always kept that in the back of my mind; wanting to make something that exceeded his expectations while staying true to conveying the epic sensory experience of Kevin’s show. Ever since i was a kid I have always admired Kevin’s work as a performer and creator of magic. So it was a real honor to work with him on creating a video campaign.

This is the :60 second sizzle video that we created:

As you can probably imagine a lot of time went into developing and creating this. As with every project I always try to push my limits and expand my skill set. Here’s an interesting fact, the logo and first five clips are actually still (flat) images that I animated to look 3D. I think this technique makes, otherwise stagnant, images all the more powerful. Of course, having great footage to work with is always a plus too!

If you are in New York, or will be in New York July 23 – August 29, one of my pieces of video art will be on display as part of the “Digital Magic” exhibition at the BJ Spoke Gallery in Huntington, NY. This was a juried exhibition, adjudicated by Laurence Gartel, known as the “father” of Digital Art. I feel very honored to have been selected.

Maximize Your Reach

I have just returned home from Chicago where I was working with magician Bill Cook, filming some performances and other segments for a new video project.

It’s no secret that video is a powerful tool for promotion and marketing. Prospective clients want to see who they are hiring and what they are getting. One of the most important aspects of video marketing is to know what image you want to convey, and for which market.  Once you have established that, it becomes easier to create the story you want to tell.  Since most businesses reach out to different markets, it becomes necessary to have multiple videos that “speak the language” of each specific market.

This month I would like to feature 2 videos we created for Comedy Magician Tim Gabrielson.

The first is a Sizzle Video. Short and sweet, this style of video helps establish credibility and give people a tease of the excitement and energy of the performer’s show.

When you want to reach a specific market, it is ideal to have a solid Demo Video. This style of video is a bit longer and more involved and should convey the benefit of your service to the desired market.

Jordan’s creativity, talent, communication skills, and patience,
combined with his entertainment background sets Red Spade
Entertainment far above industry standards.

After years of dealing with several different video production companies and
experiencing the difficulty of trying to explain the vision in which I
wanted my video to be portrayed, and not knowing what of my stock
footage I was to use…led me down a road of costly and unprofitable
demo reels that did not show “ME” on stage. With the footage that was
given to Jordan to choose from, I could not be happier.  Jordan…you
have a wonderful gift, thanks for sharing it with me…I only wish I
would have found you years ago.

Tim Gabrielson
The Magic of Comedy


Expect the Unexpected

On Saturday, March 22 I was part of the 30th annual “Evening of Magic” at the High Street Arts Center in Moorpark, CA. The show, an annual fundraiser for student scholarships, also featured performances by Jonathan Levit, Paul Dwork, Ron Saylor, and juggler Michael Rayner.  Unexpectedly, this is the photo that happened to make the front page of the Ventura County Star:






While in LA I also began shooting the first round of interviews for my new documentary film project. In one day I managed to interview Christopher Hart, magic creator Don Wayne, Rudy Coby, and Max Maven.

It was a wonderful experience having conversations with some of my magic idols.

Suffice it to say that I am very excited to have begun production on this project! The topic, you ask? In short, it’s a discussion about performers who have had their acts or material copied, or “ripped off” by other people. This is a problem that we are seeing more and more frequently these days. Back in December, as I was putting together a side-by-side video of Turkish magicians performing (on television) signature routines of other performers I was struck with the urge to raise awareness of this issue. And, hopefully, resolve the distinction of copying someone versus being inspired by them. I still have many more interviews to get with fellow performers so I will have more information to share with you about this project in the coming months.

Finally, my last couple of days in LA were spent with my friend Rick Gerber.  We began shooting some videos for a secret project. I have worked with Rick on a few different projects now and one of the things I always enjoy is seeing what creative things we come up with while shooting. This particular project took me back to my experimental film days.
At one point during the shoot, this happened…

Pushing the Comfort Zone

“I don’t like to be out of my comfort zone, which is about an inch and a half wide.”
Larry David, creator of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm

Reading this quote reminds me of myself at times. Perhaps we all have a tendency to get comfortable with the way things are.  I have just returned home from a week of shows at the Magic Castle in Hollywood.

This year I performed a new show in the Close Up Gallery, a theater I had never performed in. It presented a new challenge for me. Having now returned from the week in the Close Up room I realize what that (seemingly) little leap outside my comfort zone did for me creatively.  We can only grow if we are willing to feel a bit awkward by trying something new.

Earlier in the month I spoke to the faculty of the College of Marin here in Northern California.

To kick off the new year they brought me out to speak about transforming reality through Surrealism. It is always a great feeling to be a catalyst for transformation and change.

I try to push my comfort zone with each new video I make as well. I do this by experimenting with new techniques, trying to create different styles and moods. This month I would like to share with you a recent promo video we did for The Moogician. This video was to promote the Moogician to fairs and festivals. Using his existing footage, we animated his logo and edited the video into its final form.

Online Video Sharing

I have written in the past about the importance of having a video embedded in the homepage of your website, not only for search engine optimization (SEO) but also to engage potential clients immediately. One of the questions I am often asked once clients receive their final video is whether they should upload to YouTube or Vimeo.  With many different video hosting sites out there it can be hard to determine which site is best for your business. Therefore let me summarize the strengths and weaknesses of each.

In the last few years as YouTube has risen in popularity, and been acquired by Google, it seems that YouTube will give you the best search engine results.  That means if you type in a phrase on Google, the first videos to come up in the search results will more than likely be related YouTube videos. Additionally, YouTube now offers many advertising opportunities so you can generate revenue from your videos. And with an estimated 800 million monthly viewers worldwide, showcasing your videos on YouTube can provide you a very wide reach.

With that said, because of the popularity of YouTube, the types of videos you come across will range from professional masterpieces to amateur fluff. A potential customer or client trying to find your video, or watching your video, will be bombarded with other video recommendations all of which will draw focus away from you. Think of how easily we can go from watching a beautiful time lapse video to a zany cat video. Also when you upload a video to YouTube, because of their compression, you may notice a significant loss in quality.

Known for their more simplistic site with many advanced customizable features, you can upload a video to Vimeo with very little loss in quality. Furthermore, with a Vimeo Plus account you can customize everything in the player features and settings, allowing you to adjust the colors and text in the player and even embed your logo into the player itself.  You can also control which sites are able to embed the video.

So, what’s the drawback with Vimeo? The major difference is that Vimeo does not generate nearly as large of a viewership as YouTube. And while you can upload with a free account, you will find many of the advanced features require upgrading to a Vimeo Plus or Pro account.

The best thing is to first decide what type of video you are going to post. Is this a promo video to be embedded on your website? Or, is this a fun, short video you want to be passed around? Given that both sites allow you to create a free account, my answer would be to post your video to both YouTube and Vimeo. Use YouTube as a platform to get maximum exposure for your video and use Vimeo when embedding your video on your website, blog, etc.