Saturday was the last offical FISM day and started for me with a lecture from Gaetan Bloom, he started with a trick using an apple combined with the paddle move. Then onto using Salami for a Biting the Coin type effect. Then he showed Quarte his trick with a slate and playing cards, where he has predicted which four cards will be chosen from a suit. He then showed us a few quick ideas, how to crush a cigarette packet smaller than anyone else, how to seperate ice cubes from cola, which looked very cool, with a method to match! Next he had a card chosen and spread the deck over a tennis racket, shook the racket and all the cards seemed to fall through apart from the selection. He then shared the secret of his simple card manipulation that he had performed on the banquet show. Next was a routine for Joe Porpers Ring in Box, then probably the most clever trick in the lecture, which was a just chance board, where the spectator chose a coloured ball and pulled the string attached to it to get a box, and if it contained a silver object they won the money, the one that Gaetan was left with was naturally the winner and he had predicted the order in which the boxes fell. Gaetan then demonstrated his very clever Intecessor Gimmick and finally another just chance routine with a game a bit like Hook a Duck, except it was Hook a Box on a spinning wheel, again Gaetan was left with the box that had money in it, and again it was a very cheeky and clever method. Which was what summed up this lecture, Gaetan is a very, very clever thinker with some very novel and original magic.
Banachek lectured next, and he started by giving us a taster of his show followed by thorough explanations. Thought of Playing Cards were divined, Phone numbers predicted from a copy of the white pages, and a Q&A test with a very clever drawing duplication. He then explained a quick little trick with your business cards, similar to the old ‘This One’, ‘That One’ card trick. And finally we were treated to some Silverware bending of the highest order.
Then it was onto the Finale Close-up Contest and this was a mixed bag of emotions. Max Maven compered and did a sterling job, with a quick prediction using the convention programme and some funny interludes of facts about Sweden and America he kept his part of the show moving, whilst all the close-up finalists reprised their acts for the judges, I will post the full results after this post, but as you may know by now Rick Merrill was the overall and very deserving Close-up Grand Prix winner. I think in particular David Stone’s act suffered from the poor direction and camera work of the AV crew, which has been a curse throughout the week, and I was very suprised that David only made third place.
Whilst the judges decided on the results, we had a small show, SOS & Victoria are billed as the new-era of quick change, it was certainly excellent, with some very fast changes to some stunning outfits. Then Kevin James came on and did his living half-man act.
Then it was time for the results, and this is where the whole thing descended into anarchy. Without any prior warning to us the paying delegates, we were told this was being taped for TV and they would have to announce the Grand Prix winner first, they then brought on UK TV Presenter Stephen Mulhearn, who presents kids TV over here in the UK, and he looked very out of his depth, apparently John Fisher was directing this affair so that is probably how he came to be involved. There was a very long wait whilst Stephen got instructions from the Gallery, and then Eric Eswin wandered on to announce the winner, and the Grand-Prix was given to Rick Merrill, but then they had to do a retake. After that we were made to retake audience shots, ranging from polite clapping, gasps and standing ovations. We are not there to tape a quiz show on free tickets, we all paid a lot of money, and this was supposed to be the climax of the whole week, which was ruined by the needs of this ludicrous filming. Then they finally decided to award the rest of the prizes as a kind of after-thought, in a very un-organised shambles. Lots of people left with loud booing and hissing, not a nice atmosphere for the competitors.
We were all a bit aprehensive about the Finale Stage Contest and Eric Eswin came onto the stage with more booing and shouting, he apologised and took full responsibility, and said that there would be no more retakes, and explained they were doing the TV show to try and raise the profile of the World Magic Championship with the public, and that the FISM organisation was changing. This is all well and good, but the explanation could have come a lot earlier than it did, so we were ready for it, and the implementation of the whole thing could have been enourmously improved.
However this was a better show, with all the stage finalists reprising their acts for the judges. Rich Bloch did a marvelous job as MC with a great card prediction, himself and Max taking off Helge and Topas’s Card Dueling, a wonderful vanishing flower routine and a great video prediction effect.
As the judges deliberated Norbert Ferre performed his FISM Grand-Prix act of card and ball manipulation with his dual-personality character. Rafael came on in a small car, and proceeded to produce doves in a very funny nerd character. He then finished by changing the doves to a full live woman.
There then followed the prize giving and the obligatory TV moments, with more from Mr Mulhearn, although mercifully shorter, with the Stage Grand-Prix going to Pilou of France. Again a mess of prize-giving with no-one seeming to know what was going on, followed by what was supposed to be a closing ceremony.
Very anti-climatic to what overall has been a brilliant and inspiring week with some lows and lots of highs. Overall the organisation could have been a lot better, but they did what needed to be done and from my point of view it all went well enough and I really enjoyed most of it. Highlights, I guess have to be some of the close-up acts, and seeing Juan Tamariz both in the Bar Magic and in his One-man Show. Also getting to see some of Stockholm which is a very beautiful city, and we will be sad to leave. Bejing here we come!