I’ve had fun last week working with two performers who are adding illusions to their show. I’ve stressed in several posts about “illusionists always performing the same illusions”, so naturally, I was challenging them to push the envelope to make the illusions design and presentation distinct and unique to them.
One of the business leadership philosophies I adopt is always to lead by example. When performers see that we have gone all out of the way to think about how to make our illusions different and subsequently invest the necessary time, effort and money, they understand why it pays off. We have gotten much mileage from our illusion innovations as they have helped us get noticed by international clients, show producers and peers.
We really pushed ourselves hard for our Crystal Metamorphosis, Revollusion, Crystal Striptease, 360 Sawing, Human Light Tunnel and even our new Multiplying Bottles routine that is one of its kind in the world. Even the creator’s and builder’s admitted that our presentation and handling of Ning’s “Body Through Steel” illusion is unique to us. Brief clips can be seen in Ning’s One-Gal Show promo video which, incidentally, I just rewatched and enjoyed greatly because I have not seen it in months.
My producing approach is to always to work on the strengths of the individual performers and tap on their existing skills and talents. This not only makes full use of the hard work they put in practising certain skills but helps make the material unique to them.
I’m working on three different illusions in all for now and I’m very familiar with the workings and presentations of all of them. I’m also familiar with how different illusionists around the world present these illusions and was adament that they do not be another carbon copy.
My fundamental approach to producing an illusion is to abide by the Rule of 3.
I believe that there must be at least 3 things that makes the illusion different from anyone else’s in the world so that it is unique and worth doing.
The first thing I try to change is the physical design or look of the illusion. This si the obvious step in making an illusion different and it cannot just be a different paint job or colour scheme. I always try to add or subtract from the original prop (if it is not a 100% original custom-built illusion).
The second thing I look for is to add an additional theatrical element to smaller magic effect to enhance the overall presentation of the illusion. One example is Ning’s beautiful and lethal “Dance of the Sais” before her “Body Through Steel” illusion. It shows off her skills at handling deadly weapons, advances her kick-ass babe character and the Sais are used to strike the steel plate to show it is solid.
The third thing to explore is the presentation of the illusion. It might be developing a story plot or laying out a credible premise to frame the illusion to give it motivation. You can also theme the illusion through costuming, music, prop design and presentation style.
I think we broke some new ground with making the illusions unique to these two performers. You will see the final products on stage within the next 3 months so it is very exciting, especially for the performers. And if they put in the dedication, time and effort to make the illusions world-class and unique, I’m sure the results will be nothing short of awesome!
If you are interested and have not read it, I offer an even more comprehensive way to differentiate an illusion performance here.