I love Magic Conventions. A real chance to mix and mingle with your fellow pros and enthusiasts, see some great shows, learn from the experts and of course get hands on with the latest shiny new products. I can’t even guess how many I’ve attended around the world over the years. I do go to less now than I used to, my work schedule often clashes with the big ones, but I’m hoping to get back into the swing over the next few years and start presenting my lecture more. Here’s a few ideas on how to get the most out of them.
# Go with a plan
I always try and go to these events with a bit of a plan.
For an magic enthusiast attending a convention is a bit of a “no brainer.” But as a professional, the cost of attending plus the lost work opportunities over the period must be balanced out. You must get some good ROI. Something I’ve always tried to do is to focus on one particular “theme” and see what relates to it over the course of the event.
For instance, go in looking at “openings” or “transitions” or “applause cues.” Then in all the shows and lectures, see how people address this. This can also work for the dealer displays. You are not just fixated on the hot new products, it forces you to think if that particular effect, prop or technique might fit a particular need in your act.
Likewise, think about who you would like to meet, session with etc. Social Media has made it much easier to see who will be at an event and make contact before and during.
# Make Notes
As a follow up to the first tactic, make notes as you go. I love going back over my old notebooks from each of my visits to USA Conventions. List of performers, notes on effects in the shows, lecture thoughts, ideas, websites and book titles people mention etc. If you buy a similar notebook for each event they quickly build into a fantastic resource that you can go back to over and over.
# Book Early
If you want people to keep organising conventions, then show your support and book early. Some events like FISM & Magic Live reward people who book early with better seating. But importantly, it helps smaller events with their planning and cash flow. Events that fill up quickly are sometimes able to spend more on the event than they originally planned. Extra or better events, added guests, more catering etc.
# Help Out
Going to an event? Offer to help in any way you can. There is always a need for backstage helpers, ticket takers, runners, meet and greet for international guests. Spending extra time with the guest lecturers or being backstage at major convention shows is a highlight for many.
# Don’t be “that” person
There’s always one at every convention or magic club lecture.
Asking inane questions to lecturers that could easily be asked elsewhere. Taking up precious lecture time by commenting on how “they” would do it etc.
Don’t be that person.
# Be Aware
Magic must be one of the few professions where people feel that just because they do “magic” too, at whatever level, that everyone is equal. It’s not the case.
# Be ready
I loved the approach that one big name card guy had when he attended conventions. If he was asked for advice or engaged in conversation he always asked them to show him a trick. He could then gauge the experience level of the person and respond at the appropriate level. Be ready.
# Go to FISM
While I’m NOT a fan of competitive magic, I urge every magician, especially professionals, to attend FISM at least once. In addition to the competitions there is a huge range of lectures and shows that will expose you to a world of magical performance that you may not experience at other events.
As you might have already figured from my previous comments, I love watching show structures, use of music, applause cues etc. Watch the South American artists, the Koreans and the Eastern Europeans and you’ll see a myriad of different, strong approaches to the elements of our acts.
# Be part of the solution
Amongst all the good times and bonhomie at most Magic Conventions there are also several disturbing dark threads.
Firstly, pilfering from dealer stands and display tables is rife, as recently highlighted at the Blackpool event. If you see activity like this going on, do something about it.
Secondly, magic is still very much a “Boys Club.” Despite the wonderful women that have made their mark on the industry, they are still very much in the minority. More can be done by everyone to support and change attitudes.
Thirdly, predatory behaviour towards young magicians is still unfortunately a curse on the industry. It happens at conventions as much as it does at magic clubs. Many people are aware but little is done. We can all do something about this.
Despite all my talk of making plans, keeping notes and not getting distracted, remember also to “Go with the Flow.” Be open, be considerate, be an audience, have fun and be ready for adventure. I’ve made several lifelong friends at conventions, I hope to make several more.
You might also like ...