Making Better Magic with Brent Braun
March 28th, 2019
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For episode 156, Brent Braun sits down with Jonah to discuss what you need to do to improve your magic. Co-founder of the Magic Firm, Brent is regarded as one of the top behind-the-scenes magic consultants, helping magicians move beyond simply thinking about tricks and methods.
Brent’s interest in magic started later in life. As a single father at the age of twenty, Brent would often find himself with nothing to do once he put his son to bed at 8pm. Never being big sleeper, he soon began to find himself shuffling cards to pass the hours. When he would go out to bars and resturants, magic became a way to communicate and meet new people.
At the time, Brent was working in a factory making products that he was unfamiliar with. It wasn’t until a client asked what the product was that Brent sought out the VP to help him learn what exactly the factory was making. From there, he was fast tracked to sales and magic now became a way for him to entertain his sales clients. Eventually, he recieved a break from a sales rep who invited him to perform at an event that they hired a magician for every year.
A few years later, Brent wandered into his local magic shop to learn that someone made off with the money and that it would probably be closing down. For fifty dollars a week, Brent offered to take over the store. Three years later, Brent started his own store in a mall which he ran for 6-8 years. During his time running his store, Brent was also performing and working on other magic related projects.
The purpose of the Magic Firm is to make better magic by working with performers to develop all aspects of their acts.
The Magic Firm came about as a bit of a mistake, Brent explains. At the end of the day, he is a problem solver who likes to assess and reasses situations to understand why something does or doesn’t work. In the back of the magic store he owned, was a small theatre where magicians would come to perform. After the show, Brent would sit down with them to discuss their shows and why they were doing certain things. A lot of the perfomers often wouldn’t be asking these questions, so this reflection period would often help them become noticeably stronger performers. The creation of the Magic Firm allowed Brent to uitlize his ability to workshop with people, allow him to embrace his passion for business, and, most importantly, help make better magic.
When magicians come to the Magic Firm, Brent won’t be writing out their scripts and putting together the entire show for them. What he does is sit down with the performers and discuss why they’re doing certain effects, what does and doesn’t work for them, and understanding who they are as a person. Brent wants to help magicians find their brand and help them put together a cohesive show that has their voice behind it — not his.
Improving Your Magic
It is hard to fix something when you’re at the centre of it; you cannot objectively evalute your performance which is why it helps to bring in someone else to assess your act. Whether it’s the Magic Firm or asking a director to watch one of your performances, Brent recommends bringing somebody in who will give you honest critism. Second, you need to learn how to take and apply critism. People have a tendency to shrug off notes refusing to change–until they fly Brent out and pay his fee.
If you can’t afford the Magic Firm, then work, Brent says. The best way to learn is to perform and then reflect on your performance. Overtime, you will naturally begin to understand what is and isn’t working for you. While you may be against the concept of it, taking on some exposure gigs is the best way to get your name out there and get the performance hours in.
Overall, you need to understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing something so that you can assess your performance. While you can read a book or watch a DVD, you won’t be able to fix the issues without knowing what exactly it is that needs to be fixed. The Magic Firm will take a look at you as an individual and tell you the exact issue so that you can directly address it.
However, Brent does recommend that everyone should read Maximum Entertainmnet by Ken Weber.
J&B Magic Shop and Theatre
Brent was looking for a place where he could host and help block out the magicians coming to the Magic Firm. Looking at the numbers, Brent realized it didn’t necessarily make financial sense to just rent a place, so he began to look for a location to buy. While he was looking, the downtown space was being revitalized so the prospect of a magic theatre excited the mayor and the realtor he was speaking to. Unsure, Brent sat down to write out a business plan only to discover that he could finanically open a magic shop and public theatre.
When the idea wouldn’t go away, Brent looked at buildings and found a few places that could work. After speaking to a friend about it, Brent launched an Indigogo campaign which was, to his surprise, fully funded by a community that wanted it to happen.
Making Magic Better
If we want to say magic is an art, then we should be looking for every opportunity to help elevate it in the eyes of the general public. Magic is at a highpoint and we should be taking this time to show why magic is relevant and important in people’s lives.
Brent goes on to say that we shouldn’t be putting other magicians down, especially the younger magicians who are up and coming. If you see someone post something online and they flash or mess up a move, you should privately reach out to them to give them advice. Don’t shame them and tell them they’re exposing magic. If you have a grievance with another magician, call or message them. The magic community is insular enough that we can easily contact other performers; you shouldn’t be airing out magic’s dirty laundry for the general public to see. We need to be elevating each other.
Brent truly believes that the more magicians and the more magic enthusiats that there are, the more shows he can personally book. By doing amazing things in one city, it will eventually impact the view of magic in another city. We are helping each other by performing better and stronger magic that leaves an impact on the audience.
What do you love about magic in 2019? What do you hate?
Brent likes the resurgence of theatres and the
Brent hates the online bullying and the drama. He would prefer that people reach out to each other and just discuss the issue. It’s a tight knit community, so if you need to clear up a misunderstanding, it’s simple to reach out. We don’t need to be airing out dirty laundry as It doesn’t help to build magic up.
Take Home Point
Jonah loved the thought of just focusing on your magic and what you want to do with it, not just accepting complacency.
Brent believes finding your voice is the most important aspect. It’s what a lot of people miss.
Brent Braun on Facebook