What a day!
I've only been waiting for this to come around since just before Thanksgiving. That's when I got the initial call. And I've been a wreck ever since.
Yes, I've worked for some pretty good sized clients before. Law firms. Banks. Computer hardware and software companies. I like these events because the people usually are just uptight enough that I get the chance to really mess with them and they just eat it up.
But this was different.
This was Dreamworks. These guys know how to have a good time and they work at a job that is fun!
At first I thought I was going to be doing strolling magic. This is good. I love doing strolling magic. Then I found out that they wanted a formal show. Okay, I can do that too.
For 200 people.
Hmmm. Okay, that's a bit larger then I usually work with but I can still do that.
Then, it's two shows for 200 people. Hmmm. Okay, stretching my resources a bit but I can still do that.
Then, it's two shows for 100 people each. Okay. I'm more comfortable with that. Can I do the same show both time? Yes. Good. I can definitely go with that.
20 minutes? Hmmm. A bit shorter then I usually do, but I can edit a bit to come up with something that will flow well.
No fire, but they do want *poof*. Poof? Hmmm, I can do that too, but I need to work out some details.
It's been weeks and months of planning, but that's okay. Except they keep making these requests and changes. Okay, I can deal with this, but the closer we get to show time the less likely I'll be able to make modifications.
I settle on a line up. Thanks to the fact that they are filming this and putting it up on monitors half way back into the audience I have the chance to put some of my favorite close up material back into the show. I do this.
I settle on a line up of standards along with my new closer and my big piece is my 2 Ring Linking Rings routine. It's become something of a Masterwork Piece for me, so it has a lot of drama in it. And as much as I love the medieval-iod music I use for it in SCA settings, I change to a different bit of music. I know they are filming this and I know there is a chance that some of the film is going to be used for promotional material on their part so I select a piece of music I know is Royalty Free in order to avoid any problems. Truthfully, I like this bit of music better anyway, but it is modern fantasy sounding so it doesn't work well in SCA settings.
The day comes and I have all my show packed up early. I must kill time. It would do no good for me to be there to early. My contract says that my first show is at 4:00 pm so I plan on being there no later then 3:00. I get there at 2:45.
I'm thinking this is good. Plenty of time to relax, feel out the room and take my time setting up the one effect I'll be doing *poof* in.
Nope. Doesn't work out that way.
For some reason they think my first show is supposed to be at 3:00 pm.
They have a limited amount of time to run this. How fast can I be ready? I tell them "ten minutes to setup my show and ten minutes to get in to costume."
So while I'm setting things up I'm thinking "take out the *poof*." Sorry, but this is delicate stuff and I can't afford to rush it. It only changes the end of one effect a little so I can afford to abandon it.
The room is long and narrow. It's the cafeteria. Not what I was expecting. They gave me the impression that the room would be one where they do presentations. On the other hand, perhaps they do presentations in the cafeteria sometimes. I don't know, but again I just adapt. This is why I select the kinds of effects that I do. My show is highly adaptable and I can perform it almost anywhere.
I work the audience for a bit while the camera crew finishes setting things up. They are going to get me a lot of good, high definition footage. I should have it in a couple of weeks.
I go with my standard opener. I had been toying with a change here but decided to fall back to my standard because it helps me relax and by this point I am a freaking stress monkey. Whatever other impression of calm and professional you get from reading this, remember that under this calm cool exterior beats the heart of a stressed out maniac.
But my standard opener does a couple of things for me. It allows me to see who in the room is going to be worth playing with and it allows me to fall into the flow of my show with little thought. I know myself well enough to know that even if I am stressed out, once I hit the stage all energy goes into the performance and I forget about everything else.
Next I go into my favorite card trick. You all know it. You've all seen it. But here I'm hoping that the footage I get of the effect in close up (because those cameras where rolling) will be worth putting on my site for advertising. We shall see.
Then I go into "story time" and tell my "three monks" story with the three rope effect. The magicians who read this will know the effect as "The Professors Nightmare." After the show was over I had several people tell me that the audience was absolutely enraptured by my story telling. Good. Hopefully that will help make up for the lack of *poof*.
I move on to my musical 2 Rings Linking Ring Routine. (I really need to come up with a better title for the effect since it is something of a "masterwork" piece.) They were the most responsive audience I have ever had for this effect. Applause at every appropriate spot and totally amazed by the end.
I have to admit that I really turned on the energy for this one. So much so that I actually felt my legs trembling! I had to control that while still keeping the energy up. And again, after the show, one of the sound guys came up and told me that he figured I must have been pretty nervous because he could hear my heart through the body mike I was wearing.
Well, yeah, skippy. I was nervous. This is one of my best effects and I am doing it for the people at DREAMWORKS!!! *smile*
I finished off with my "Poe-tic Ribbon." This my recitation of a bit of Edgar Allan Poe (the "Dream within a dream" speech) and the production of a rainbow ribbon from the air. It's a nice bit that rounds out the show.
The applause was damn near thunderous. No *poof* but I got you people. And that's what counts!
Short break, reset my props.
"Santiago? Could you pose for a minute here. One of our artists is drawing a picture of you and we want to get some footage of him doing that while you are inspiring him."
So, fortunately for me I have a few more effects in my table. Learned a long time ago that it's always a good idea to bring more things then you actually need, because the things you actually need are never enough! So I performed that rubber band trick of mine (you all know the one) while they filmed mister Dreamworks Artist Guy (whose name is actually Ryan Savas) drawing pictures of me.
And yes, I did get a copy. (I'll probably put it up in the next day or so.)
So now it's time for the second show.
Only, turns out most of the people came for the first show (more then 100) and few came for the second. I had an audience of only about 30 for the second show.
Okay, adapting again. We bring the energy down a bit and make the show feel more intimate. A bit harder on me because as a smaller crowd they weren't sure if they could respond. But I worked them. And by the end I had them.
So where is everyone? Turns out the most of the people who came to the earlier show were now off in rushes. For those of you that don't know what that means, "rushes" are the daily films that are watched by everyone for editing and content. Dreamworks is in crunch mode finishing the last little bits of the next film "Shrek The Third."
So this was my day at Dreamworks.
Everybody is happy. The agent who booked me for this gig came to see me perform, and he's already talking about other things he wants to book me for. The people at Dreamworks are happy and I may very well hear more from them. There is a chance, albeit a small one, that a clip of my show may end up somewhere in the extras on the "Shrek The Third" DVD. Some sort of "behind the scenes" extra showing how cool it is to work at Dreamworks.
Because you know what?
It is cool. Even if I only got to work there for a day.