The producers are behind this fascinating new documentary that takes viewers into the world of magic!
Ardent fans of The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters have a new documentary to worship and obsess over. From the executive producers of that fan favorite comes the all-new masterpiece of fascination, Make Believe. This coming of age journey is set in the quirky subculture of magic, and it follows six of the world's best young magicians as they battle for the title of Teen World Champion.
Much as The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters pitted the heroic Steve Wiebe against douche supreme Billy Mitchell, Make Believe also find the perfect rivalry in lovable, self-taught magicianHiroki Hara, who hails from a small town in the middle of nowhere Japan. And his nemesis Krystyn Lambert, a seemingly privileged blonde haired beauty who is accused of coasting on her looks more than her skills as a magician.
We recently caught up with both Hiroki Hara and Krystyn Lambert to talk with them about their journey and where it has taken them since that big championship back in 2009. While Hiroki Hara may have beaten Krystyn for the Teen World Champion title, he couldn't quite match the young woman's poise and grace when it came to being interviewed. Hiroki had a little bit of trouble with his interpreter, so our chat with him was short lived. Krystyn Lambert, nonetheless, offered some great insight into this world of documentary filmmaking.
Here is our conversation with both Teen Magicians.
Hiroki, can you take me through your life after winning the Teen World Championship? How have things changed since this documentary?
Hiroki Hara: Mmhm. After the Make Believe documentary, I got offers from all over the world. I am traveling all over the world now. It's a great experience after winning the Teen World Championship, and after 2009...
You are made out by the filmmakers, right from the beginning of this documentary, to be the hero. How much of that was manipulated by the filmmakers in editing, and how much truth are we actually seeing in your journey to the championships?
Hiroki Hara: Ah....
(There is a long pause of silence, and then an interpreter gets on the phone. The interpreter doesn't re-ask Hiroki the same question in Japanese. Instead, the interpreter asks in English, "What was happening in your life before the competition?"}
Hiroki Hara: What was happening in my life? I was performing at this really small theater. And on these really small TV shows. But after the World Magic seminar, the world has changed...
(There is another long stretch of silence, and then we are disconnected. Krystyn Lambert calls back...}
Wow. Being friends with Hiroki, do you ever have trouble communicating with him? He seems to speak English very well. But most of what I got was stunned silence.
Krystyn Lambert: Yeah. I think that sometimes things get a little fast for him. If he has time to think about what you are asking him, he's all right. But if you need to talk to him in the moment, certain things can really throw him off.
His interpreter wasn't translating what I said. He just completely changed my question and asked it in English...
Krystyn Lambert: Oh, dear. I'm sorry.
Not your fault. Just weird. Now, I'll ask you the same thing I asked Hiroki. This was shot back in 2009. And at the end of the film, we see great things about to happen for you in the future. Can you give me an update? Where are you now, and how is your career as a magician moving along?
(The question is repeated...)
Krystyn Lambert: It's been a really amazing experience. We have been able to travel a lot with Make Believe. A lot of people have become acquainted with magic in a way they weren't able to previously, through this documentary. If that makes sense. I don't think a lot of people understand the art behind magic. I don't think a lot of people have the concept of all the hard work and toil that goes into it. That has been very cool. To share that with people. And the fact that this film really develops the idea of pursuing your passions. And diving into your dreams. I really support that, of course. But for me, I have gotten a lot of performance opportunities, a lot of bookings. And some exciting television offers for the future. These are projects I can't talk about just yet. But I am excited to share them when I am able to. I am so grateful for the opportunities that Make Believe has provided. I am very fortunate.
How do you personally feel about the way you are presented in this film? This comes from the King of Kong guys, and its obvious that they are setting up this rivalry. That they make you out to be the villain.
Krystyn Lambert: Yeah. A little bit. It's interesting, because I don't completely identify with that person. Its still Krystyn, but I feel like I have changed a lot since the film. A lot of that has to do with going to college, and being at UCLA. That has allowed me to change. Even socially. A lot of the stuff that I was ridiculed for in high school...I am a lot more liked in College, and I have a lot more confidence. Instead of trying to be an over achiever, and have my idenity be in my achievements, I think I am much more focused on being me. Being Krystyn. Finding that personality. Of course, that's not to say I'm not still practicing hard, or working hard in school. But I am respecting that I have changed, and I think that is very healthy.
Looking back, do you think it was easy for the filmmakers to amplify a couple of the moments seen, that don't necessarily reflect the truth about who you were or how you were behaving?
Krystyn Lambert: Yes. I think that is true. I know there are a couple of conversations taken out of context. But that is their movie magic. Which I respect. In the case of the competition, in terms of my performance, I recovered from the problem. I kept moving. I talked to numerous audience members who were there, and they all say, "Wow, I had no idea you dropped the ball. I had no idea you had those problems while you were performing live." The problem is, I knew how it was supposed to be. When I came off stage, I was very upset. In the scheme of things, in the context of the performance, it wasn't as big of a deal as they made it out to be.
It seems like, to me, watching the movie, that they offered up Hiroki and the two kids from Africa as these underdogs that are easy to root for. You are attractive, you don't come from the same hardships as they do, so it seems like the filmmakers wanted to express that in the opposite. That they picked and chose from what you were giving them, and took it to these two polar extremes.
Krystyn Lambert: Yeah. A little bit. I think, only because I have a strong personality. I am intense, so to speak. The filmmakers capitalized on that overachieving nature. But, I think the film, overall, really portrays great messages. And it's put together so well. That is what's more important in this case. Yeah. There are certain moments, like that conversation I have with Diana Zimmerman, that are completely taken out of context. I was saying that people were giving me a hard time. That only because I was pretty, I was getting the opportunities that I was. And she was saying, "You can't deny the fact that you are. You have to be able to work that corner." It came off as her saying I should solely capitalize on that. It was in response to people who were giving me a hard time about it. Again, certain things were taken out of context and dramatized a bit. The overall affects of the film are very powerful, and more important.
Did you see King of Kong before agreeing to be in the movie? You had to know what you were getting yourself into...
Krystyn Lambert: We didn't know it was going to be a competition film until really late in the filmmaking process. They collected a lot of footage at the Magic Castle with me. They came out to Las Vegas with me, because I was involved with another competition.
Unlike some of the other films we've seen, were there is a competition, and we see kids going against each other, there really seems to be a strong sense of camaraderie amongst these teen magicians.
Krystyn Lambert: Yeah. We really are one big happy dysfunctional family. I think, when people are backstage, and we are getting ready to perform, its not like, "Oh, I am going to sabotage you!" Or, "Ohh, you are terrible!" It's more like, "I need to get into my own zone, and I need to prepare so I can do my best." Its competitive in that people are so determined. They are not trying to take people down. It's not a negative competition environment.
But once you've gone and done your thing, you all seem to really enjoy watching the others perform. There is a genuine love for watching the art of magic, and you don't mind sharing your tricks of the trade. It's not stand offish.
Krystyn Lambert: Absolutely. I feel these boys are like my brothers. It's wonderful to see them find success. I was thrilled when Hiroki Hara won. We had competed against each other previously with different outcomes. Reversed outcomes, actually. So, it's great to see brothers do well. It sounds like a very placating response, like that is what I am supposed to say. But it is very true for me.
So you guys competed before this? The film makes it look as though you are just meeting for the first time here.
Krystyn Lambert: Some things were preserved for their movie magic. And because of how the overall film works, I think that was definitely important.
What have you been able to learn from the boys, that you have been able to incorporate into your own act?
Krystyn Lambert: As a person, I have relaxed a lot, and I have gained a different perspective. I have learned to focus on me, rather than just my achievements. They were a big influence on me, changing, obviously. Additionally, a lot of the questions that the director asked us were very important in terms of creating a foundation for the philosophy of developing a performance, and art. I feel like the whole documentary and filmmaking process was beneficial to me, just because of the things they had me consider. They shot over four hundred hours of footage. The director, J. Clay Tweel, drove with me to Las Vegas, and he got about six hours of me rambling straight. All of that intellectual work that they had us doing has paid off in a lot of ways. Now I am taking classes in philosophy, which has become very beneficial as well.
How will you bring that into your act? Or will you keep your studies separate from your art?
Krystyn Lambert: It helps in the way I approach things, and how I analyze them. I have really been developing my prevalent problem solving skills. So, there is a direct correlation. Additionally, I lot of the stuff I am learning is very inspirational to me in terms of material, and in terms of plot. My scripts have been heavily impacted by the inspirational aspects of my education.
You also can't help dwell on the sexism issue raised by the movie. There aren't very many female magicians. Will you be able to use that to your advantage moving into the future?
Krystyn Lambert: It certainly sets me apart. Naturally. That is a positive aspect. But at this point, people are seeing that I am not just a pretty girl who can dance around and do magic. That I am not a female magician. I am a magician who happens to be female. That is a victory for me. I am fortunate from the standpoint of that novelty. There is also a lot of trailblazing that I have to do being one of the few females in magic, and being one of the only females that is headed in the direction that I am, currently. It definitely has its advantages, and its disadvantages, since it is such a male dominated world.
Yes, despite what has come thus far in your career, it's one of those things that no matter what, you are going to have to constantly break down a lot of doors.
Krystyn Lambert: Absolutely. Even down to the fact that most tricks are made for men in suits. And I just don't have a suit. There is one stage of problem solving that I have to work out. It's an ongoing process. Developing new material is very exciting. That I am on the first steps of my journey is absolutely thrilling.
Make Believe opens in select Los Angeles theaters this Friday.