Sign up Latest Topics Chat
 
 
 


Reply
  Author   Comment  
Anthony Vinson

Avatar / Picture

Honored Member - Moderator
Registered:
Posts: 2,024
Reply with quote  #1 

Sat down last night and watched Magicians: Life in the Impossible, a documentary by Marcie Hume and Chrisoph Baaden, about the private and professional lives of four fulltime magicians: Jon Armstrong, Jan Rouven, Brian Gillis, and David Minkin.  

The film is a frank look behind the scenes of a few of those “living the dream” as professional performers. Of the magicians featured I was interested most in Armstrong and Gillis, being a fan of both. The footage was obviously shot several years ago before Armstrong lost weight.

The documentarians treat the magicians and the art of magic with respect. I applaud the bravery of those who allowed themselves to be followed and filmed through both good times and bad. There’s a lot to learn here, and a lot to think about, especially for anyone out there who believes they might want to pursue a career in show business. As Rouven’s partner, Frank Alfter, says at one point, “Show business is two words, and business is the longer.”

Booking gigs, selling themselves, performing under challenging conditions, long days and nights traveling, eating in restaurants, scrambling to sell merchandise, after-event meet and greets, time away from loved ones and pets… None of it glamorous and frequently painful for all of those featured. And indeed, some of it is painful for the viewer as we observe, almost voyeuristically, the protagonists as they deal with some considerable problems in their personal lives while simultaneously putting on their happy faces to perform and meet their fans.    

I think most magicians would enjoy this look behind the curtain, even if only to gain additional respect for those few who perform professionally. The film is currently available for purchase or rental. I rented through Amazon, but doubtless it is also available through Apple and Google. Outside of the U.S., I can’t say. Support the documentary if you can, and perhaps we will be treated to other magic-related features in the future. 

(Note: I am aware of Rouven and Alfter's recent legal/moral issues, and while their (alleged) behaviors disgust me, I enjoyed the film despite their inclusion. After all, how could the documentarians have known?)      

Here's the link to a trailer on YouTube

0
Orlan

Member
Registered:
Posts: 2
Reply with quote  #2 
I watched a few weeks ago, very interesting documentary. I'm always curious about how other magicians got to where they are. This documentary follows a few magicians and you see the good, the bad, and the ugly behind the scenes. There are also additional features if you buy the documentary (you can buy or rent for online viewing). Check it out at http://www.magiciansmovie.com.
0
Robin Dawes

Avatar / Picture

Honored Member
Registered:
Posts: 1,136
Reply with quote  #3 
Update on Rouven: he has confessed to three of the four charges relating to  possession and distribution of child pornography.  The fourth charge of recruiting for the purpose of child pornography has been withdrawn.  Sentencing will take place in March.
0
Anthony Vinson

Avatar / Picture

Honored Member - Moderator
Registered:
Posts: 2,024
Reply with quote  #4 
Just saw that this documentary will be released for streaming on Netflix in mid-February. They actual list a date range of 7 - 13, so if you're interested keep an eye out around that time. Worth watching.
0
Ben Morris-Rains

Avatar / Picture

Moderator - Inner Circle
Registered:
Posts: 210
Reply with quote  #5 
I watched this when it first came out on Amazon and I thought it was really well done, but I have to admit, even before I had researched who Jan Rouven was, I had felt like something was off about him and no, it had nothing to do with his sexual orientation, something was just odd. It seems like Alfter's relationship with him was very strange too.

Nonetheless, Brian Gillis and John Armstrong's portions were the most interesting to me, as it showed the real struggle with being a professional close-up magician who ISN'T making big buck's on the strip. It doesn't seem like an easy life by any means. Last, the ageism is also quite interesting. I know this exists in the professional world, but it never occurred to me to exist in the performing arts world. All very interesting. 

__________________
Check out my effects: 
http://www.penguinmagic.com/p/9065
http://www.penguinmagic.com/p/8918
https://www.sansminds.com/product/respend/
0
Stevie Ray Christian

Avatar / Picture

Inner Circle
Registered:
Posts: 427
Reply with quote  #6 

Holy Toledo! I watched this documentary yesterday. 

The Jan Rouven sequences are difficult to watch—given the details of his arrest and subsequent guilty plea. Rouven’s Svengali, Frank Alfter, expresses a cynicism which pervades the magic profession. While feuds amongst magicians range from trite to legendary, Alfter’s take on jealousy and thievery plainly describes an inner ugliness that stains the art form.

David Minkin’s scenes tell a pleasant success story laced with a nervous energy to which many performers can relate.

Like Ben, I was most intrigued—and moved—by the candor and plights of Jon Armstrong and Brian Gillis.

I was quite pleased to learn, after watching, that Jon applied his goal-based discipline to his physical health. I would imagine the best is yet to come for this talented and earnest man. 

Brian Gillis' early performances on Johnny Carson's tonight show were an inspiration when I was in my late 20s.

Through the kindness of friends, I manage to get into the Magic Castle a few times a year. Late last month, I went to see Jared Kopf rule the close-up gallery as only he can. While eating dinner at the Palace Bar, I recognized Brian Gillis to my left. I introduced myself and we struck up a conversation. Out of that meeting, I found myself back at the Castle last weekend as Brian's guest.

After catching Jeff McBride's wonderful close-up set, I ventured to the W.C. Fields bar where Brian was working. I met up with him between sets. While he waited for the next crowd to file in, we sat and talked. Brian was extremely gracious and thoughtful. He spoke reverently about his mentor, Eddie Fechter. Brian grew up not far from the Forks bar where the owner, Mr. Fechter, slayed audiences every night. "To this day," Brian said, "the best magician I've ever seen was Eddie." 

I then watched Brian astonish his audience with rapid fire miracles and powerfully funny presentation. 

His performance character is such a wise guy, the contrast of the honest, forthright and down-to-earth Brian Gillis is all the more remarkable. He certainly does not put on airs while the cameras roll. The hard knock survivor, the pro, the optimist, the pragmatist and the gentleman on the screen is the real deal.

0
Previous Topic | Next Topic
Print
Reply

Quick Navigation:

Easily create a Forum Website with Website Toolbox.