Derek DelGaudio’s In & Of Itself is hard to describe but much harder to shake. Part magic act, part memoir, part group meditation experience, the Hulu release is an adaptation of DelGaudio’s Off-Broadway show, which opened in 2016 and ran until 2018. Its creator and performer has worked as an illusionist and depicts his time as a dealer in illicit card games, is looking to pull off a more rarefied form of sleight of hand.
As he reflected during in an interview during Deadline’s Contenders Television: Documentary + Unscripted awards-season event, DelGaudio sees magic as “a tool I can use to make things.” He added, “I don’t allow this craft that I have learned to define my entire practice.”
Stephen Colbert, the late-night host who came aboard as an executive producer after seeing the stage show, thrilled to its inversion of magic’s usual dynamics.
“Some people don’t enjoy the craft of magic because they feel it’s hostile to the audience,” he said. DelGaudio does deliver jaw-dropping card tricks and illusions, but by ruminating on identity and forming spiritual bonds with audience members, reaches someplace much deeper. “The trick is going on inside of you — you are a part of the turn,” Colbert said. “All of these things he does onstage that amaze you are a gift to make you think differently about yourself and other people.”
Director Frank Oz, who also directed the stage version, said the film medium added potency, especially the ability to cull from multiple performances. “When one is in theater, one just looks wherever one wants. But when we created the movie, we could guide you and say, ‘OK, this is the important section,’” he recalled.
DelGaudio himself had a number of new takeaways from the film once he saw how its elements were cutting together. “I was the only one who got to experience the totality of it,” he said. “I knew that people were missing out on what it was as a whole.”
Check out the panel video above.
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