DocNight: Make Believe
USA, 88 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Coming of Age, Documentary
Director J. Clay Tweel IN - PERSON for a post film Q&A and reception
Digital presentation - In Make Believe, director J. Clay Tweel follows six adolescent outsiders who all share an extraordinary passion: the art of magic. Armed with great skill and a dazzling array of illusions, these teenagers embark from the varied hometowns of Malibu, California; Chicago, Illinois; Capetown, South Africa; Littleton, Colorado; and Kitayama, Japan to attend the annual World Magic Seminar in Las Vegas, where they each hope to be named Teen World Champion by master magician Lance Burton.
Executive produced by Ed Cunningham and Seth Gordon (the duo behind 2007’s acclaimed The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters), Make Believe was initially a passion project for its creators, who for four years mulled over the idea of a documentary set in the highly distinctive world of magic. The right story for Make Believe finally presented itself when producer Steven Klein (a former teen magician and current member of Los Angeles’ famous Magic Castle) eyed three teenage boys in a magic shop who could barely make eye contact with anyone...until a deck of cards transformed them into consummate showmen. Klein returned to pitch Cunningham and Gordon on the idea of teen subjects, and the producing team then handed the wand to Tweel, who brought his own coming-of-age vision to the project.
Like the boys in the magic shop, the film’s six subjects are remarkably assured and dedicated entertainers. Offstage, however, they face the diverse obstacles of adolescence: loneliness, high parental expectations, the pressures of impending stardom, abject poverty, and the deep desire to fit in. With great humor, honesty, and heart, Make Believe reveals an enduring world that audiences know little about while it also explores a time of life no one ever forgets.
About Director J Clay Tweel:
When the Universal Pictures feature Cry Wolf, associate produced and edited by Seth Gordon, was shot in Virginia, Clay was hired in the art department. Having recently earned a History degree from the University of Richmond, Clay had little idea he was about to spend the rest of his days making film. His continued stint in the art department included The Oh in Ohio and Seth Gordon’s award-winning short The Problem with Percival, before working on The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. Clay's experience parlayed into numerous credits on the film from associate producer, assistant editor, DVD material editor, all the way to original song composer. In addition to Make Believe, he most recently worked on Four Christmases and is now developing a feature and another documentary.
DIRECTOR: J. Clay Tweel
Official Film Website