by Christopher Priest
This is a still from the film of my short story, “The Stooge”. It was directed by Rogelio Fojo in Los Angeles, and runs for a fraction over 20 minutes. It’s another film about stage magic, but this time not set in the period of grand theatrical magic, but a much more modern, realistic, down-at-heel time.
Other than writing the original story, then drafting a screenplay, I had nothing to do with the production process. The first I knew about it was when I was sent a finished copy. To say I was surprised by the result is an understatement. It strikes me as an extraordinary accomplishment. In many ways it looks as good as The Prestige, but was made on a budget literally .05% of that film, for all its famous stars and legendary director. Fojo has achieved as much, working with less. The Stooge is offbeat, intriguing, thoroughly cinematic, sometimes funny, it has beautiful photography and music … and real magic. The opening credits show the workings of a sleight — a few moments later you see the sleight again, and you still can’t see how it’s done. Pure magic.
Although The Stooge was completed last year, it has just achieved its first professional booking. It will be shown at the North Hollywood Cinefest, 20-28th March 2019. I hope this will be not only the first festival to exhibit it, but many more to come. I am now allowed, indeed urged, to display this token:
“The Stooge”, the original story, is included in my new collection, Episodes, due from Gollancz on 11th July 2019. Early details here.
"Infinite Summer”- This impressive new collection by Christopher Priest, just released in France, includes twelve short stories. One of them -"The Stooge" ("Le Baron") - where an illusionist hires a young man and locks him in a magic cabinet, evokes "The Prestige" and it has also been made into a film.
“L’ÉTÉ DE L’INFINI”
de CHRISTOPHER PRIEST
La déliaison, préface de Xavier Mauméjean
L’Été de l’infini
La Tête et la main
La Femme dénudée
Rien de l’éclat du soleil
La Cage de chrome
Le Monde du temps réel
Le Baron (“The Stooge)
Les Effets du deuil
Errant solitaire et pâle
Christopher Priest, un entretien : première partie, par Thomas Day
Magie, histoire d’un film, par Christopher Priest
Christopher Priest, un entretien : seconde partie, par Thomas Day
Bibliographie des oeuvres de Christopher Priest, par Alain Sprauel
"Beaucoup plus classique chez Christopher PRIEST est le thème des deux nouvelles inédites suivantes. Le Baron (The Stooge, 2013, traduction de Pierre-Paul DURASTANTI) est un illusionniste qui recrute un partenaire pour le clou de son spectacle. On s'étonnera ici de la traduction du titre original qui littéralement signifie le larbin, et correspond bien mieux au contenu du texte (le traducteur nous donne l'explication dans les commentaires de ce billet ; qu'il en soit ici remercié). Mais on pensera surtout au Prestige qui donne au music-hall et au magicien une large place.”Read original article
“Si « Le Baron », où un illusionniste embauche un comparse enfermé dans une armoire, évoque Le Prestige, « Les Effets du deuil » est un autre récit de dévoration où une veuve aux talents multiples demande à un magicien de lui apprendre son art.”Read original article
" Enfin, Le Baron qui rappelle l'Homme Transporté du Prestige, est peut-être la seconde nouvelle la moins forte du recueil, mais l'ambiance rappelle vraiment les tours de nos deux illusionnistes préférés, et nous ramène au sujet du double cher à l'auteur.
Le Prestige est d'ailleurs au centre de l'essai publié dans cet ouvrage, Magie, histoire d'un film, écrit par Priest. Il y relate comment il a vécu l'adaptation de son roman au grand écran par Christopher Nolan. Bon là je dois vous dire : J'ADORE le film Le Prestige. C'est un de mes films préférés.”Read original article
"Le reste n’est pas mauvais, loin de là, même si un peu inférieur à mes yeux aux textes que je viens de citer. À vrai dire, une seule nouvelle m’a laissé totalement froid, et c’est « Le Baron » (la plus récente, 2013), une variation sur la magie rappelant nécessairement Le Prestige. “Read original article
“Le baron” et “Les effets du deuil” appartiennent au monde de la magie, de la prestidigitation.”Read original article
Note from Director
"YOU WILL LOVE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT...
By Rogelio Fojo
A few years ago, while still in film school, I wrote a screenplay for a dramatic short film titled Missing You. Applying formulas I had learned in class, I prepared a detailed budget accompanied by eye-catching storyboards, wrote a formal cover letter, then tucked everything into an envelope which I mailed to Kodak. My serious, traditional approach was awarded by the film company with a Target of Opportunity grant to film that project.
Next… I threw this entire prize-winning concept aside and opted instead to film a different vision in my head: one suddenly inspired by a colorful traveling circus called Chimera and the clowns, acrobats, show-girls and magicians performing the show I had fatefully attended. I proceeded to realize this fantastic new vision without approval, without a script, without storyboards, without a budget, without anything but my inspiration.
Although surprised by my bit of moviemaking sleight-of-hand, Kodak applauded the finished product for its more spectacular story and creative use of their film and proudly stamped their famous logo on the last frame of the end credit sequence.
This early experience taught me a valuable lesson – the finished film is everything! And a director’s loyalty belongs only to the audience that settles in to watch and listen to the story being told. At the same time, I learned a tough lesson – that I could only go so far trying to make movies without adhering to procedures that Hollywood had spent the last century establishing as essential in creating the complex, collaborative art of cinema.
It takes a while to master this cinematic balancing act, so I continued making short films to practice and hone my skills. I wrote scripts, drafted storyboards, and wore the hats of cameraman, gaffer, director, producer, and editor – all in an effort to learn the ins and outs of every filmmaking facet. I submitted my films to festivals to get an idea of how the selection process worked. I listed my films on the Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB), to learn how to give credit to my friends who collaborated on each production.
Finally, the moment arrived when I felt I had learned enough to direct my final and most ambitious short film – produced, photographed, and acted by the most talented and professional artists around -, the proverbial “calling card” which would show that I am ready to tell more extended and complex stories in feature film form.
And so I was drawn to a short, but riveting story by Christopher Priest, the British author whose global acclaim was further bolstered by the adaptation of his novel The Prestige. While reading his mysterious and thrilling tale of stage magicians titled The Stooge, the room and everything inside of it magically disappeared around me, and suddenly found myself onstage, enclosed in a strange cabinet with a beautiful magician’s assistant who whispered into my ear - I want you to look at this very closely…
My goal as a director is to bring a rousing finale to the magical act that started with Christopher Priest’s screenplay, and to transport my audience to that same stage, alongside Splendido The Illusionist and his assistant Angela, awaiting a never-before-seen trick that will reveal more surprises than anyone could ever have imagined.
I hope you will LOVE what happens next.
Rogelio Fojo – Director, The Stooge"