J. Clay Tweel

Shannon in Finders Keepers

Clay Tweel is a name that should be known to any documentary fan. After serving as an associate producer on Seth Gordon‘s The King of Kong, he went on to direct his first feature, the surprisingly sharp teen-magician film Make Believe, which is better than its conventional competition-doc surface indicates, and then he co-directed last year’s riveting exploration of the 3D printer market, Print the Legend, which in a way is also a competition doc only with very high, entrepreneurial stakes. For the most part, those two are dissimilar animals, though together they’d hinted that Tweel could maybe do no wrong with clean, non-complex subject matter of any sort. He has a talent for delivering reality in an entertaining yet not sensationalistic way. His latest, co-directed with Bryan Carberry (a multitasked intern on Make Believe) and produced by Gordon, is called Finders Keepers, and it’s his closest to the line of sensational exploitation. It’s therefore the most reminiscent of The King of Kong, albeit with less of a shared sense of delineated good guys and bad guys than his past two features have. This new doc involves a pair who are as antagonistic as true human beings can get. On one side is John Wood, whose amputated leg wound up for auction because it was being kept inside of an old grill in his storage unit, and he’d failed to pay the rent. Shannon Whisnant is the man who acquired the grill and the limb inside, and he saw the latter as a business opportunity. But he didn’t get far […]



Magic is like the Schrödinger’s Cat of obscure passions. Or, to put it another way, magic is simultaneously very cool and not cool at all. Similar fields are definitely one or the other… mimes for instance, are never cool. But watching a good magic show can leave an audience in awe wondering how exactly the tricks were done, while at the same time the magicians’ offstage persona often reveals them to be socially awkward, obsessive-compulsive geeks. So cool and uncool, simultaneously. Make Believe follows six teenagers from around the world who have immersed themselves into the world of the stage magician. They practice and perform constantly while juggling their “normal” teen lives with varying levels of success. The crux of the story is their involvement in an annual World Teen Magician competition, and the film follows their preparation and experiences leading up to and beyond the event. The six teens come from varying backgrounds and personalities but all share a common love for magic and the art of illusion, and their stories as seen here help prove the maxim above.

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published: 01.30.2015
published: 01.30.2015
published: 01.29.2015
published: 01.28.2015

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