I've been trying to find a way to capture the essence of what I'm doing at the moment with regards to the upcoming FISM Magic World Championships. I eventually realised it was probably most effective to just copy/paste something that gets right to the heart of it.
Late last week, I sent the following email out to a group of about 15 people. I’ve made some edits and marked a few parts as [removed] because they contain either private information or things that would be spoilers for the upcoming performance.
Ok, FISM brains trust. Hi everyone. You are being sent this email because Australia (and its hope for FISM) needs you. :-)
To make sure we're all on the same page, here's a quick summary of the story so far.
- By winning FISM Oceania last year, I became the Australian entrant for FISM 2012.
- Normally one would compete with the same regional-FISM-winning act. However after Oceania, Boris Wild suggested to me that it would not be a good idea for me to use the same act at FISM 2012. His reasoning was that the routine's impact was mainly due to the surprising and unusual ending, and that its impact would be significantly less a second time round. What with him being the head FISM close-up judge, I figured it would be wise to take his advice.
- I spent the next 8 months stressing about what to do about it. I had about ten different candidate routines (including modifications of the old routine).
- The one I ended up focusing on turned out, in March, not to be viable for various technical reasons.
- [Things got a little tense at that point onwards.]
- In April, while in the USA, I suddenly realised that I could combine two different routines (one I've been doing for years, and one that I'd been working on for years and had finally got working) into something that should play well at FISM.
- I worked like a maniac on this act, and booked my June USA trip mainly so that I could workshop the hell out of it in Hollywood with all the magic castle brains around.
- Thanks to Yao, Dave Lee, Shoot Ogawa, Bill Goodwin, Pete Biro, and about fifteen other people's suggestions, the routine evolved a LOT in Hollywood. In four days one part in particular went from "adequate" to "holy crap, wow."
- Next week I have five live performances of the routine at the various MMF shows, in order to put the final touches to it all. Then Dave and I will be rehearsing, tweaking and polishing it right up until the day of the competition.
We're obviously in ultra-short notice territory here, which is not ideal but also not unusual. I could tell plenty of stories about competition acts that were literally created from scratch two days before the event (ASM 2005), had the method changed completely on the morning of the event (ASM 2006), featured endings that had never been rehearsed (ASM Centenary), were translated into a foreign language on the morning of the competition (Paris CFI 2006), or didn't even have music until four days beforehand (FISM 2009). FISM 2009 was also heavily re-scripted in the final two days.
All of those ended up winning awards. And compared to some of them, this routine is actually in a pretty solid place right now.
Here's the latest video I have of it, as of two weeks ago at the Magic Castle. It's evolved significantly since then, and still has things that need to evolve further. When watching it, bear the following things that have already been added/fixed:
- [removed - lots of bullet points that would spoil the surprise]
The video: [removed – spoiler warning]
Things I would appreciate input on:
- Scripting. The script has tightened a lot since that video was shot, but I feel that even tiny tweaks to the script and timing for the second routine and ending could make a huge difference to the emotional impact. Since the ending of the set is aimed at having genuine emotional rather than magical resonance, this is particularly important.
- Story. The story as told in the video is 100% true. While I'd love to keep that, I'm happy to tweak in order to give it a greater dramatic punch. Thoughts on this in particular are much appreciated - there may be a better angle to take with it.
- Music. I'm still running through re-drafts with my composer for the second routine and finale, but if anyone A) can think of existing tracks that would fit well, or B) knows someone who feels up to composing a couple of short sequences (for the card link moment, and for the final story - about 10sec and 45sec respectively), then let me know.
- Lighting. Change the colouring at all? Reposition the spotlight? Since I now have a second light for the linking card moment, thoughts on how to angle and position that for best dramatic effect?
- Anything else. What would you fix, change, add, remove, or alter to give it some extra FISM-style punch? Bear in mind that the aim of this is not necessarily to create a "good act" per se, but an act that will get good scores on the six FISM criteria as mentioned above. It's for an audience of magicians, not the general public.
So, thoughts please! :-) There's still a lot of flexibility in the next 10 days before the competition, particularly in terms of music, blocking and scripting.
And thank you - both for everything all of you have done already, and in advance for whatever happens from here on.
See in in a week...