We didn’t have money or a studio, but we had a camera and plenty of time. Sebastian and I both knew we wanted to really take our time on this project and really do our best to present these routines as clearly as possible. There was some pretty slick sleight of hand going on that we couldn’t just glance over. We also knew we had to shoot a demo out in the real world (none of this studio performance stuff you see nowadays) to show that this was workable material. Too many products coming out had short flashy demos in a studio that doesn’t show much. We wanted Pinnacle Spades and The Hofzinser Anthology to rise above that.
I drove down to Orlando, FL to begin the project. The first step was performing for real audiences and the best place for that was Universal’s City Walk. It seemed like everyone there was in a good mood because we didn’t have a single bad reaction. It also helped that it is really visual and engaging magic and Sebastian can perform it really well. But, mistakes were made on my end. I did not prepare for a super windy day and all the audio had to be trashed. It was quite disappointing. The visual reactions were great though and I intended on using those.
We had extra time to kill, so why not shoot some of the explanations? All we needed was a well lit and quiet place. It turned out to be really difficult to find in the heart of Orlando; it is a very loud and busy city. As we were walking back to the parking garage we decided to go all the way up to the top level (which happened to be completely empty) in order to shoot some b-roll footage of Sebastian. We had the whole upper level to ourselves … it was awesome! I went down and got my truck and went up the exit to meet Sebastian at the top. The entrance to drive up to the top level was completely barricaded off. That should’ve been a sign to not take my truck up there, but the exit wasn’t barricaded off so up I went!
There was a closed off stairwell up there as well and power outlets; it was perfect. We set right up in that stairwell and got to work shooting the explanations. We shot for literally 8 hours up there and never once got interrupted. It had a really cool industrial feel to it which I liked. It was a needle in a haystack find; a quiet, well lit location that was free. We wrapped up filming around 7 pm and then headed to my truck to review the footage. It was looking awesome. We were so engrossed in the footage we didn’t notice that we were being surrounded by Universal’s security and police. That was quite a surprise to look up and see that sight.
Sebastian was 16 at the time, so I told him to wait in the truck and I would talk to them. They asked what we were doing up here and I told them that I really liked the location and it made for a great spot to film since it was completely empty. Well apparently that was a big no-no; not only were we trespassing, but we didn’t have filming permits either. The officer asked me to show him my camera, which he then promptly wiped all the footage that we had just shot. That wasn’t enough justice for them though, as I had to hand over my I.D. so that they could copy it telling me that I would not be allowed at any Universal owned location for a year and that I would be arrested if I did. They never even asked about Sebastian who was just sitting there patiently in the car. What we couldn’t believe is that they let us film up there literally all day until they noticed us. Get it together Universal Security!
At this point in the story it would seem like we were royally screwed, not to worry though, when we were watching the footage in my truck I was also backing it all up. I didn’t lose any footage! Now it was time to get to work on editing. Editing the instructional part of the project was a breeze. Sebastian is a great teacher and we shot chronologically so putting it together took no time at all. The big problem came when I started working on the demo. The reactions were great, the visuals were nice, but the routines were in-audible. I let Sebastian know that we had to put the project on hold until we could re-film the routines in a studio environment so we could make the demo as clear as possible. This time we would be much more careful to not film on private property while trespassing. Lesson learned.