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How Dynamo conjured his break in television

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You’ll know him as the mind-blowing master magician who defies logic and the laws of physics, but Dynamo is also a success story in the world of television.

Dynamo

(RTS/Paul Hampartsoumian)

The story of taking his magic to the screen is an inspiring one of self-belief and perseverance that should help put television ambitions in perspective.

I had a chat with Dynamo, perched on the throne from Game of Thrones, at the RTS Futures Ultimate TV Careers Fair, a unique event which saw over 800 young people from across the UK come together for the chance to meet and network with some of the biggest players in television. 

The magician, with his reassuring Yorkshire tones, admits his support for the event comes from how important it is to encourage young talent and that “there was nothing like this event, when I was starting out.”

His skills as a illusionist got him early appearances on shows like Richard & Judy, Friday Night With Jonathan Ross, Soccer AM and Sport Relief, but when it came to pitching to commissioning editors he faced a particular challenge.

“It was hard because I can’t reveal how I do my magic, or even what that magic is going to be exactly. Only I can know. So I was asking for money to make a programme saying it was going to be the best magic show ever but wasn’t able to tell them anything about it! It’s definitely a risk for them.”

Dynamo created further challenges by insisting on choosing his own crew and director for creation of his shows, people he already knew and trusted. 

“I didn’t want to just use people who were established in TV, I wanted to work with new people. Many of the people who worked on Magician Impossible first were the people who had shot my early bits for Youtube. It was a difficult sell but it all worked well.”

To keep the necessary control over production Dynamo formed his own production company, which is now a risk that has paid off.

He goes on to uncover the team-work nature of TV, behind the glitz and glamour a whole body of people are working away that are just as important as the star.

“I can pull off the most amazing trick ever, but if the cameraman doesn’t get the shot or the soundman misses the sound, we’ve got nothing. It’s like “if a tree falls in forest and no one is there to see it does it happen?” It’s like that. So yes, I am reliant on those people.”

“In TV I think it is easy to look at the star and forget about the people behind the scenes, but they are the ones really making it happen. I am lucky to have the best team in the world right now.”

Bringing up the aforementioned platforms like Youtube, the conversation turns to how easy it is to get content out in the digital age. In his early days, although Youtube existed, the equipment was still expensive and operation skilled.

“15 years ago, even to use the equipment you needed to have training and the stuff was expensive. If you were on a film course or something like that, you could get access to the equipment but on your own it was still hard, especially to produce broadcast quality material. Now you can film relatively high-quality, HD stuff on your phones. You can edit it on there, publish it. Someone’s probably broadcasting us live right now!”

But ease brings its own issues, just because it can be done doesn’t mean everything is worthwhile.

“There’s a saturation of stuff online now, everyone can upload content and a lot of it is not of a great quality, but also a lot of it is. To stand out you have to be producing something really, really good.

“What people are maybe missing is that you still need to have the skills you used to have to produce something of quality. You need to know how to frame a shot, how to write a script, the rules of editing. The fact you can get stuff up easily hasn’t got rid of the need for these skills, you still need them.”

His advice on this new technology is to get out there and “do it”, you have access to everything you need to try things, take risks and progress. But with that also comes a need for quality control.

“It raises the question ‘when is something ready’? People are so used to releasing everything, but you don’t have to, you can work on things till you have it right. The higher the quality of what you finally release, the more attention your work might get.

“These days TV companies, like the ones here today, are looking at things like Youtube to find talent. Whatever happens, when you meet with these people you have to have a quality showreel to show them.”

From a short chat with Dynamo it is clear his journey into television is one that can reassure and inspire those who are looking to break into the industry. Have confidence, take risks and develop your skills and you could one day be working on exciting programming like Magician Impossible.

Find Dynamo online at: www.dynamomagician.com

Discover your future in television with RTS Futures online at: https://rts.org.uk/rts-futures

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