Boris Wild is another one of those amazing French magicians. We're not sure how France produces so many wonderful performers, but we are certainly grateful for it! Boris Wild may not be the wild man of magic, but he is charming, friendly, highly skilled and an innovative magical thinker. We were delighted to have a chat and find out more about this multiple award-winner.
10 magicseen Issue No.17 November 2007
Photo: Zakary Belamy
You have recently been filming with L&L Publishing - tell us a bit about the prolect and how it came about...
Everything started in Stockholm during the last FISM Convention. I was having dinner with my good friend Simon Aronson and his lovely wife Ginny. We were talking about the set of DVDs he had released with L&L Publishing. I told him I had already talked with several people about a DVD project but had not got any further because I wanted to wait until I found the best possible partner in terms of quality, marketing and promotion, etc. For a long time in my mind, the ideal partner -the best in the world- was L&L Publishing. But it was like a Grail for me, I did not have any contact with them and I thought: "Daryl, Michael Ammar, Jeff McBride, Bill Malone...They only work with the best. Why would they want me?"
Simon told me he would be happy to help me to make this dream come true and kindly offered to recommend my work to Louis Falanga, the CEO of L&L Publishing. Louis only knew a little bit of my work through the marked deck and the items I have released on the market, but Simon really spoke highly of me - so much so that Louis decided to follow his advice by giving his OK for a set of videos. I'll let you imagine how happy I was the day I knew I would add my name to the list of prestigious performers who have already worked with L&L Publishing!! And then I had a real fright thinking of the pressure and all the work I had to do to live up to this honour. So I really prepared everything the best possible way, and the shooting went very well with topprofessional people. It went so well that we planned 3 DVDs and there will probably be four in the end. We shot them on Bastille Day last July (perfect for a French magician!) and they should be available at the end of April to coincide with the FFFF Convention in the USA (the best close-up convention in the world) where I will be Guest of Honour.
Is releasing original effects an increasingly important part of making a living for a professional magician?
Yes, whether it is for a lay audience or magicians. If you have, for instance, a show which is unique in the world because it includes original effects, people will book you and nobody else because it is the only way for them to offer this specific performance to the audience. Also, releasing effects on the magic market can be a great plus to your regular bookings if you promote them the right way and they meet the magicians' needs. Now, with technology and the Internet, it is easier to develop a product you can sell on a large scale and create a buzz around it.
You have performed on many TV shows, released marketed effects, won awards and performed over 100 shows at the Magic Castle in Hollywood - do you have a career plan? Is there a particular area of magic you would like to devote more time to?
I do not really have a career plan. I just try to do as many different things as I can do: close-up performances, lectures, stand-up magic, creations of personal effects and routines, development of customised magic tricks for big brands, writing books, essays and notes, coaching acts for my friends. I could never do the same thing only, over and over. What I like in this job is the variety it offers. It is never boring as you have several hats and you keep changing them all the time. It really helps to keep the fire in you to forge ahead. Plus, if one of your activities is slower during one period, you have the others and it does not affect all your work too much. And if one of them works really well, you can take the opportunity to develop it and define precise goals in this direction.
As for the particular area I would like to devote more time to, I would say: creation. It is really hard to spend as much time as I want creating new things. Logistics takes a lot of time and sometimes I wish I could have a secretary to book all the flights and answer all the e-mails for me!!
How has your love of magic affected your own personal life? Are you one of those magicians who cannot switch-off - or can you separate the magic from your private life?
My love of magic has indeed changed my personal life because it has affected my schedule due to all the travelling and working at hours 'normal' people usually do not work. And to be honest, I am a workaholic! I usually never spend more than one week on holidays. Being a magician is more a passion than a job and you know that all passionate people have the most difficulty to switch off. But at the same time, when I decide (or I need) to have a break, I can spend several days without touching a deck of cards or reading a magic book!
You obviously do a lot of travelling - is this an enjoyable part of your work? Is there any aspect of your career that you have not been totally happy with?
Travelling is great. Transportation is hell. Especially the flights with all the weight restrictions, increasing security measures and luggage problems. I go to the United States several times a year as I perform there a lot. I have many friends there and it is one of my favourite countries in the world - but flying to the US is more and more of an obstacle course! Fortunately, meeting people, discovering places, making new friends and opening your mind to different cultures is absolutely fantastic. This is what allows me to cope with all the logistics inherent to travelling.
As for the aspect of my career I have not been totally happy with, I think there is not. I would do everything the same, including mistakes because they allowed me to learn a lot about myself and life in general.
What have you found the most difficult thing to master?
Time difference and jetlag!! More seriously, even if it took me some time to get used to that, I guess the most difficult thing to master I have found is to accept it is impossible to do everything perfectly. I guess I am a little too much of a perfectionist and it often kills me when I realise that even just a little something is not perfect. With time and experience, I can manage this pretty much now, but it is still a bit hard!
There are some great magicians in France -who are your own personal favourites and why?
This is a tricky question as I can not name all of them but here are a few who immediately come to mind:
- Dominique Duvivier. The king of close-up. A master for me.
- Gaetan Bloom. Our national genius.
- Norbert Ferre. An incredible mix of talent and kindness.
- David Stone for his madness and Mathieu Bich for his devious mind.
I am glad to count them all among my friends.
Is there one great effect you have seen performed that you wish you had created?
There are many! When I perform some effects and see the reactions they get, I think: "I wish I had thought of this before!" It always happens when I do "Wow!" by Masuda or "Printing" by Dominique Duvivier. I also very much enjoyed the routine "Shape of My Heart" by Shawn Farquhar. It is totally my style of magic.
Tell us a little about growing up in France, your family, and how they felt about your unusual career! Did you have lobs after leaving school?
I was born in the north of France in a humble area where my father was a postal worker and my mother a hairdresser. At 12 years of age, I was looking for something to do after school and I almost started to do fencing. But a friend of my father came home one night and showed me a few close-up tricks. I was fascinated and I immediately knew it was what I wanted to do.
My parents have been absolutely fantastic because they have always supported me. I would not be the magician I am today without them. My father was driving me everywhere to perform my first shows (I was too young to get a driver's license) and helped me to build my very first props. They are my first fans today and I can not imagine parents more proud of their son!
As for your question about the job, I became a full time magician in 1998 after the award at FISM but before this, I had a 'normal job'. I was working in Paris as manager in direct marketing for the toys "Playmobil"!
What do you think has been the greatest advance in magic over the past 10 years?
I guess it is definitely the Internet. Nowadays, if you run out of business cards, it is not really a problem. You just say: "boriswild.com" and people can easily get all your contact information and much more. Also, e-mail is great to share ideas with friends, have correspondence with other magicians in a much faster way than in the past when people were writing letters to each other. We can even do video chat to show our latest development on one particular effect! The access to information is also so much more convenient either for professionals or beginners. I know there has been a lot of drift on that particular point but we can admit it is minor compared to the wonderful services the Internet offers to people who have an all-consuming passion for magic and who are sometimes far away from a club, a colleague or a magic shop.
Do you ever suffer from a 'mental block'? How do you continue to be creative after many years doing magic?
Oh, yes... I am just a human being with his uninspired periods, like everybody. Our job is based on creation and sometimes, you keep thinking for days or weeks and there is no flash of inspiration! The "white page" syndrome is absolutely awful. But I believe in the virtue of work and persistence. So I try to work as hard as I can because I have realised it always pays off. By doing so, I always explore new ways, new solutions that lead me to what I am looking for.
Unfortunately, there is no formula to continue being creative after many years doing magic but being curious of everything around you and watching what is done in other forms of art and entertainment are important to open your mind to new ideas.
What would you say is your finest achievement in your career so far?
My little daughter Amélie! OK, the question is about magic.
I guess the obvious answer is the "BW Marked Deck". It is the very first factory-printed Bicycle marked deck in the history of card magic and I am happy to know that after my death, my name will be associated forever with a special deck of cards!
But there may be something even more important - which is still being booked all over the world after 20 years of performances and 10 years of professional career. As I said earlier, I did not have any career plan so I am really amazed at this situation and I feel very lucky to take part in so many great events on the five continents.
How important has speaking English been to your career development?
Essential. I would not have done 10% of what I have if I was not speaking English. It is the only way to perform abroad and develop international projects while doing it in a safe and enjoyable way. English is spoken all over the world, it saved my life so many times and allowed me to get involved in fantastic projects. Also, speaking English opened my knowledge very early to an amazing quantity of books and publications that I would have not discovered if I was speaking only French.
I know some magicians around me who are really talented but who cannot speak English and I see it is an undeniable brake on their career. Every time I realise that, it truly confirms my opinion about how English is important to expand your field of action.
What has been the most difficult prolect you have worked on, and why?
It is probably my FISM "Kiss Act". When I started thinking of what could be the ideal act for a competition, I had something crazy in mind: how to make people feel strong emotions and even cry with a just a deck of cards? That was not an easy task! But I am glad I found exactly what I wanted, which is telling a story with cards without talking -while at the same time transmitting deep feelings to the audience. Making the special deck for this act was also a challenge as almost every single card is different and designed with a diabolical precision. It takes me two full days to make a new deck!
Is your style of performance something that you analyse? Are you a magician who likes to have everything totally rehearsed, or do you like to feel a sense of living dangerously?
I always try to analyse every performance I do. in my head! I have most difficulty watching my image on video so, even though it is a great tool, it requires a lot of effort to watch me! Fortunately, experience gave me a good sense of analysis to be objective about my work. Also, my wife is my best critic and she is very honest about what I do. Sometimes even too much, but that is what makes me go further!
Being a perfectionist is not really compatible with "living dangerously" and even if I am sure it works great for some people, it does not fit me. I would feel like I have not done everything I could do to make the best possible performance.
Who have been the most influential people in your life?
I am sure you expect magicians names but my answer is "movie directors"! It is amazing how they can tell stories, create atmospheres, structure narratives, generate emotions and make the spectators escape from their real world. Tim Burton, for instance, has always had a great influence on my work. His sense of aestheticism, emotion, precision and fantasy is an example every magician should follow.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on a new close-up act which can be considered as the sequel of "The Kiss Act" (What happens after?). The full script and a large part of the effects are already on paper. I am also developing several new effects that will be released in the forthcoming year, I am preparing for the 2008 FFFF Convention and I am writing an essay on something which has never been treated in magic (but shh!).
Tell us three things about yourself that magicseen readers will probably not know!
1. For one full season, I did magic on national radio! (not the colour-changing handkerchief, of course)
2. Before starting magic, I was... a regional yo-yo champion!
3. I have co-founded the French Fan Club of the British TV series "The Avengers"! ms
Here's a list of 5 top French movies selected by magicseen's deputy editor, who loves stuff like that!
1. Amelie starring Audrey Tautou. A stylish romantic comedy featuring a beautiful young lady with the power to influence others! (That sounds just like Boris's daughter!)
2. The Chorus. A brilliant movie concerning the tales of an independent school. Feel good factor of 10!
3. Jean De Florette/Manon Des Sources. Classic French movies you have to see.
4. Etre Et Avoir. Captivating Oscar-winning documentary set in remote France where a teacher tackles his last year before retirement. And he's the only teacher in a school of 12 pupils.
5. A Very Long Engagement. A woman searches for the answer of her lover's disappearance. Brilliant
Other French things that stick in our mind - but not all are great!
1. Plastic Bertrand. The punkster who sang Ca Plane Pour Moi, or something like that!
2. Georges Simenon, author of the great Inspector Maigret books.
3. Sacha Distel - French crooner who had his own TV series on BBC1, UK.
4. Gerrard Houllier -Ex-manager of Liverpool football club. Good man!
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