Arcane Knowledge

Last week Molly Bernstein gave us a last minute call to help her get “DECEPTIVE PRACTICE: THE MYSTERIES AND MENTORS OF RICKY JAY”, a documentary she’d been working on with Alan Edelstein for a decade or so in shape for its sudden premiere at the New York Film Festival next week.


This is a film all animators should see -not for the graphics (which need a lot of help, truth be told) -but for the artistry and intellect of it’s protagonist.

I’ve talked about the kinship of magic and animation in the past, this concept I will continue to testify until shown incontrovertible evidence of a fault in thinking.

The connection was further entwined by some comments the magician made during the questioning after the screening.

Some selections, in chronological sequence from the interview:

“It’s good to the history of your art but not entirely mandatory” [then went on describe an autodidact in Colorado who devised his own forms of magic without contact to the greater tradition]

On the camera: “If it is just like a person, you have to know where that person is standing when you’re performing.”

“Look at tape and be critical” [but he also relies on a small group of friends to help him perfect his pieces]

“The accessibility of magic is unparalleled. Even though there’s more information and more people doing it, the percentage of people doing it well remains unchanged.”

His company’s tag line: “Arcane knowledge on a need to know basis.”