My beautiful and talented girlfriend, Alexandra Barreto (who is producing this short, and without whom Shiloh and I would be utterly lost) has raised a good point about nature vs nurture. When she was a kid, she was always told she was "such a good little actress!" or "such a good performer!" or "such a good singer!"
Now, she has no clue what came first: the instinct, or buying the hype. Is there some kind of performance gene, or did she just get so much encouragement that it became the reality?
Shiloh and I were the same way. Because we started super young, we just sort of assumed there was some natural talent.
But unfortunately, we have videos.
I can say, unequivocally, there was an absolute absence of talent.
This is a frame from our first magic show.
So lost. So scared.
We performed for our entire school. We brought the principal up on stage, the whole deal. I guess we thought that homemade gold capes, a too-big plastic tophat (is Shiloh wearing a bedazzled headband?!), and some store-bought tricks would make us magicians.
And it did, sort of. We did shows at birthday parties - I mean, we actually got paid. And so all these years, I've carried around this self aggrandizing narrative that we were young, go get' em, born performers. Until Shiloh and I got ahold of the VHS footage.
At which point, reality set in. We were awful.
You can't even understand half our tricks. At one show - in front of a classroom of older kids - I completely blow a trick. My oh-so-quick response? I freeze, turn to the camera, and very urgently whisper, "I messed up Mommy!"
It gives me a stomach ache just to think about it.
I think our only real asset - besides an incredibly patient and encouraging set of parents - was our drive to do it. We enjoyed this crap.
We acted in plays. We did skits. We always put on the haunted house at our school. We made our parents and our friends star in countless alien/werewolf/detective/time travel movies.
Basically, a day without a costume rarely passed through our childhood.
Which is a different thing than "natural talent." More like, natural geekery.
Ok, ok, I'll put it more positively: it was an insistence on the power of imagination. We weren't going to let something like lack of talent get in our way.
Even when it was bad (which, trust me, was all of the time) we wanted to be on the other side of the curtain. And that hasn't changed.
We've put away the magic wands and never looked back, but I think way down at the heart of our filmmaking...it's pretty much still the two of us standing nervously side by side with a bag of tricks.
So when it came time to say "A Strong Brothers Film" in the credits of Irish Twins, we decided it made more sense to call it A Strong Brothers Magic Show.
And hey, if you can't find a clown for that next bar mitzvah - look no further.
This is just awkward on so many levels.
Shiloh gives his hackiest "just getting water out of this newspaper" look.
Shiloh tosses a "magic ring" in the air.
The hat wasn't enough, I had to go with a jumbo bow-tie, too.
(And thank God I had that embroidered "R" on there, who knows what would have happened if Shiloh and I got our capes confused).