Behind the Story of the “Behind the Illusions” DVD Project

It has been about a month since the launch our “Behind the Illusions” DVD and it has become one of the best-selling illusion/ stage DVDs of all time… definitely one of the fastest to sell. The support has been tremendous and we are proud that our work is being seen by hundreds of magicians in countries all over the world.

As with many milestone endeavours, there is always a story behind the projects. This one is no different but it was a project that might have been “meant to be” in many ways.

Ning & I first came out with the vague idea of doing a DVD set on illusions in 2009. There were no concrete plans but we thought of it because of the sheer amount of illusion work we were doing in the past few years.

I had worked with illusions for 15 years, bought a fair bit of illusions from professional builders, designed and built quite a number too. Together, Ning & I have performed these illusions for 13 months in a permanent show, for hundreds of corporate & special events as well as on TV. So, we are in a fortunate to be in a position to share an all-rounded insight to illusions; from design to staging, producing and everything that goes into staging an illusion show.

Most magicians around the world, especially those involved with stage or illusion work, were familiar with our work due to our stage illusions and mega illusions so we thought they would be interested in the experience and expertise we have gained at this stage of our careers. We felt it was important to document and share the information while it is relevant and not when we are 60, when I’m sure we would have new things to share as well as a different perspective.

So, we started collecting bits of footage in 2010 from past performances and had a behind-the-scenes camera follow us during the set-up of our “The Aerial Exit” mega illusion. In fact, we actually recorded the voice-over for the “Behind the Illusions” trailer sometime in Sep 2010, months before we even cut the trailer or knew when the DVD would hit the market.

At about end of 2010, I was contacted by Tim Trono & Patrick Wolford from Murphy’s Magic Supplies on the possibility of distributing my books to the mass magic market. My books had previously been only sold direct from myself or through some US dealers. One reason was to keep the material to only really serious illusionists looking for new illusion designs. In 2004, when I released my first book “Illusionary Departures”, I was also performing a lot of those illusions professionally which is why the book was not available in Singapore and Malaysia, my primary markets at that time. However, after 7 years, I guess it was time to start releasing my work to the mass market. So, I agreed after negotiations.

The reason for approaching me was for Murphy’s to have more professional-level illusion resources for magicians. Their comment was that there were very few authors of illusions books and the breadth of material available was either dated or limited. That is true because illusion performing and designing is such a specialized field with high barriers to entry.

Besides the books, they also brought up the subject of a DVD on illusions. Almost immediately, I said we actually had the material for that and just had no real motivation to complete it. So, basically, that was the impetus to get to work and produce the DVD set. In Jun 2011, the DVD was released and it sold out its first run during the pre-order of the product.

So, thanks to Tim Trono, Patrick Wolford and Kathy Carini for making this happen! The competitive pricing point was also suggested by Murphy’s. While we feel the value of the DVDs are at least 2 – 3 times the retail price, we deferred to the experts and agreed to make this widely accessible to the majority of the magic community, After all, if we no one buys the DVD, our efforts in producing the information would be wasted.

So, that is the story.

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About J C Sum

International Illusion Artiste & Illusion Designer
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