Magician and movie consultant David Kwong founded The Misdirectors’ Guild as “an elite group of magicians who specialize in illusion and deception for film and television.” He and his colleagues have been busy of late with Hollywood films like The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Now You See Me and Red Lights starring Robert De Niro as a mind-reader and mentalist. (It apparently had a limited release in the United States but we heard the first thirty minutes featured the debunking of spiritualism tricks).
The Misdirectors Guild site lists several other Mr. Kwong and his group helped. It is a pretty impressive list.
“Magic is all storytelling,” says Mr. Kwong told FastCoCreate.com. “It has an arc that’s introduced, then played out for the big reveal. There’s a foreshadowing along the way. I like the idea of putting clues out there is plain sight–introducing the simplest of magic tricks, then making their concept play out in a big way.”
He would know. Mr. Kwong is not only a real-life magician, but he has also worked with some of the true big names in our business; like Ricky Jay and David Copperfield. For Now You See Me, Mr. Kwong worked with the director and screenwriters to “make the illusions in the film as plausible as possible, while furthering the plot.” That is a tough job. There has to be a temptation to save the time and money necessary to teach actors sleight of hand with a few well-placed computer-generated imagery (“CGI”).
Mr. Kwong was on the Now You See Me set for about eight months teaching card sleights to the cast. He claims the film tried to keep the magic real. “All the illusions in the film are based on real practical effects,” Mr. Kwong told FastCoCreate.com. “Even a 3-D projection done on the side of a building is now used as a marketing tool. The actors employed a fair amount of real sleight of hand.”
Mr. Kwong conceded he could not make master magicians out of the actors – not in less than a year, at least – and perhaps you should not even try.
“You don’t master sleight-of-hand in eight months, but you can learn isolated flourishes for the camera,” Mr. Kwong said. “Jesse learned how to change one card to another, but he didn’t learn the whole trick in which it’s done. It’s more of a need-to-know basis. You don’t want to give away too many secrets to laymen.”
We like the way he thinks.