Do you ever film your magic when you are doing a magic show? If you haven’t considered doing this, it may be worth looking at why this can be a valuable asset for making a magicians showreel.
When it comes to keeping a video record of a magic show, stage magicians have it easy! They can set up a camera and film each show they do, getting a great deal of material to use for their marketing. What about us close up magicians? How do we get footage to be used for making a magicians showreel and promotional material? Let’s look at the best way to fix this:
When you attend a magic gig, we recommend taking a good video camera with you. Many smartphones have excellent video capability now, so it’s worth investing in a smartphone that can capture HD video.
Getting Permission to film
‘I wonder if the clients who have paid good money for magic at their event, will [see videos filmed at their event] and wonder what their magician is doing whist being paid to entertain THEIR guests…?!’
If you keep pulling out your camera and taking shots or video, your clients may not like it. You’re supposed to be there to entertain. You’re on THEIR time, not yours. It’s vital that you get permission to film, not just from the client but also from the venue. You should also pick the times and places you film carefully.
When you, or your agent take a booking, ask the client if it would be OK for you to film a few short clips of the magic. Offer to give them a copy too. Explain that you are keeping a video diary of your magic which helps you improve, and also helps your business grow.
If you don’t want to film your performance, you could explain to the client that you will only film, during parts of the evening when you can’t perform, such as during the speeches or awards, or before and after your booking time. That’s a good time to film some testimonials or a short talk about your services as a magician. You will find that most clients don’t have any objection to this. If they do, then there is no need to push the point. You don’t need to film at every gig, just enough of them, over time, to build up your footage.
Get it in writing.
It’s important that you include a section in your booking contract giving you permission to film and to be allowed to use the footage commercially. A quick Google search will bring up several template contracts for ‘signing off’ permissions that you can use.
Having a spectator film for you.
If you are with a group of spectators and have established a good relationship with them, ask one of them to film the next magic trick you perform. Hand your phone to one of them and prompt them to capture the reactions of everyone going crazy over what’s about to happen. That gets a laugh, and the person filming will enjoy the process. You can tell them that you plan to email a copy to the host of the evening as a souvenir.
You will find that many of the spectators will also ask for a copy, so it’s a great time to capture their email address’s so you can forward it to them later with your details.
The footage will tend to be quite raw. The idea of live filming like this is to create something REAL, in the moment, and live. The footage will have terrible production values, but it’s of great value for that very reason. It’s valuable to include material like this when making a magicians showreel. Here’s an example filmed at a gig by professional magician Mike Fairall.
The footage you capture doesn’t need to be perfectly shot. You want something live, fresh and REAL. You can edit the footage and cut sections in and out later, if you want to use some of the footage for a professional showreel. The main aim of live video, is to build up a series of short videos, that capture your energy and how much fun the spectators are having.
The best time to film for making a magicians showreel.
- Before you start the gig, whilst the guests are still in their meeting, or the wedding service is still going on.
- Outside the venue, before you arrive.
- During the speeches, presentations or awards.
- After the gig, when you have packed up.
- Build it into a magic trick
It’s a good idea to arrive early at your gigs. It gives you a perfect opportunity to check out the venue and record a short video about your services.
Think about how you could ask a spectator to film a trick and the footage become part of the trick itself. Could an extra revelation or magical event happen when the footage is played back to them?
Asking a few spectators to record a short testimonial is very valuable to you. You can do this after you finish for the night. A great place to capture this, is outside the venue, where people gather for a break. Also, you might sound out the client when they thank you at the end of the gig, and see if they would find it fun to record something for you.
Remember your audience when making a magicians showreel
When you film, bear in mind who you are filming this for. The footage is NOT for other magicians. It’s not about how successful you are. The footage should be aimed at your target audience. As a magician, your target is the host of a magic event. The problem they need a solution for, is how their guests will be kept entertained and happy.
Your footage should show themwhy you are a solution to this problem. Your technical competency as a magician can be assumed. The focus of the footage should be on spectators having a great time and being entertained, NOT how well you can perform a sleight or flourish.
Recording footage of your magic to use in making a magicians showreel isn’t hard to do, as long as you get permission and don’t press people to take part. It shouldn’t get in the way for your show or your services.