Last week I shot some magic for a popular German TV show.
It was a tough shoot. I had to entertain and amaze a high-class Beverly Hills crowd in a cocktail party setting while being hyper-aware of camera angles and what the magic would look like to viewers at home. Also… I don’t speak German. ;-)
Lucky for me, this wasn’t my first time at the rodeo. I’ve performed on many different TV shows and commercials. I’ve also done on-set consulting for a major network drama as well. Here’s some advice I’d give any magician looking to get into television:
Communicate With Your Director
Make sure you completely understand what they need, and make sure they completely understand what is possible (and not possible). Magic is your specialty. They’re relying on you to provide professional solutions that will help them achieve the impact they want.
Put the Project Before Your Ego
Have you seen the Magic Clerk segments on Jay Leno? The magic clerk is played by the excellent Michael Carbonaro. One of the reasons his segments are such a joy is that he puts the sketch ahead of his own ego. The focus isn’t on Michael. The focus is on the funny situation and the often hilarious reactions from the store patrons.
Make the Star Look Great
Are you doing magic with a TV host? Morning TV anchor? Celebrity? If so, make THEM look great. Give them material to play off of, and keep things loosely scripted so they can riff. When you make them look good, the producers will always have you back!
Lastly… Don’t Be a Diva
The drama belongs in front of the camera, not behind.
Even if you never do any TV appearances, these are great rules to follow at any upscale party or corporate event. Here’s hoping that the German TV footage turns out well.