A little magic goes a long way, particularly when you partner with someone who exemplifies creativity. In this case, the partners are Magicana, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) Bell Lightbox, and the magic is the March Break Magic and Movie Camp.
While meeting with representatives from the centre late last year, I suggested that they partner with Magicana to provide a Magic and Movie March Break for kids. Magic and the Movies go back a long way. In fact, the movie business owes a great deal to magicians. Not only did magicians and their magic lantern shows help begat the technology that make motion pictures, but magicians were also pioneer producers and exhibitors of film.
George Méliès, for example, was a magician who purchased the theatre of Robert-Houdin in Paris, located a stone’s throw from the studio of the Lumière Brothers. Méliès soon afterward documented his stage spectacles on film, breaking through barriers of live theatre, creating cinematic special effects, to transport his audiences to exotic locations – including the moon!
Magicians were also amongst the first exhibitors of motion pictures, making them a feature of their traveling stage show. David Devant, the great British conjuror, brought motion pictures to the English Provinces and Carl Hertz, an American by birth, introduced traveling motion picture exhibitions down under – that’s Australia.
I knew that, with its program My Magic Hands, Magicana had a great deal of experience introducing children to the artistic process, empowering them to make decisions, communicate their ideas, and perform. Combine that know-how with the expertise and facilities of the Bell Lightbox Centre, and you create a golden opportunity.
The result was truly magic. The children learned the fundamentals of several magic tricks, how to develop a character, script dialogue and action, practice, rehearse and then, perform. They also learned, courtesy of TIFF, how to storyboard their ideas, pitch a script, shoot the action, edit the material and screen the results for the audience. Not bad for a week’s work!
The program sold-out quickly and the kids had a ball. It’s a programming initiative that I predict will become a perennial. If you have or know of kids that would be interested in participating in this type of program, contact TIFF and let them know that you are interested.