Fake it, til you make it

The Heist Derren Brown

Derren Browns controversial show aired in January 06, and in the main before the show went out the press and media slammed it. Wasting police time and money, and glorifying crime were just two of the accusations levelled at the show. But this is TV and great TV provokes thought and debate, and this show did just that. It was fascinating television, an award winning show, and a magnificent personal experience for me.

I had replied to an advertisement in the paper, I had no idea what I was getting into, what was involved or what I would end up doing, or in my case not doing. But I was up for it as it appeared at all times a really interesting thing to behold. And at no time did it let me down. I had gone to this selection evening, and to be honest, had no idea what they were looking for, but just went along with it all. And then to my complete surprise I was picked to be one of the shows participants. It was then a while later that the real show, and the filming started.

We were whisked off to this old country manor hotel for the first part. What I loved about this show was the mix between whatever it is that Derren Brown does and the trickery of the TV production people. And it was this element that always had me on my guard. The rule for me was always trust no-one, trust nothing, and if what you see with your own eyes makes no sense then believe that and not what you are told. I think it took me about two hours from when I arrived to work out that I was not going to be around the experience for very long. I have studied NLP, more self thought than anything formal, I understand the concepts of mind suggestion and redirection, and I do not believe in any way in hypnosis, but I wanted to get something out of this, so I played along, joined in and went with the flow. DB has learned and created some very special techniques, he is a very clever man and you have to respect that, however like any magic trick, once you know the answer it is always really simple.

My favourite moment of my time was in the snooker room. We as a group had been having dinner which was very closely filmed, then it was supposed to be downtime, where we could chill out before the next day. But if there are cameras then there is a reason and true to form the reason turned up in the form of a bad actor (sorry) trying to issue us individually with a bill for dinner. After years of hotel life it was not hard to figure out this was fake. But for some of the other contestants this worried them, they had not thought they would have had to pay for the dinner they had just eaten and their naivety got the better of them. But for little me, I had found the “flash Paul” moment. In a room with around 15 people in, I opened my wallet, flipped out my credit card, and in one smooth movement, flicked it towards the man with the bill, “put it all on there mate” were the cocky words that came out, and as the last one did, the card bounced off the side of his head and landed on the tray. The room gasped, I took in a shape intake of breath, the camera guys were all checking if anyone got the shot (yes it did appear in the show), and above all I knew this show was over for me right then.

As with all these things after it is over you wonder to yourself, you think about it. You wonder why you did what you did, you think to yourself should I have done this or that. For me if you don’t then you don’t really get a lot out of it. When I saw the show I later wished I had stayed in a bit longer as I would love to have tried some of the other experiments that were done. But when I had nothing to do with one of them, the shoplifting one, I knew that this show was not really for me. Maybe I am not the sort of person who succumbs to suggestion, maybe I was not open minded enough for them to place things in my mind, maybe I was seeing things coming that would have meant that I would never have done the Heist, so after a few days I left the show.

I have always done these things for the experience, for the self learning, for the chance to see behind the camera, and always with a degree of selfishness so I can take something positive for myself. But the Heist was the one show that I have done that I really felt I came out with nothing I had not had before, with the one exception of having met and spoken to Mr Brown, something I would have liked to do quite a bit more. So the Heist was a little bit of a disappointment, but not something that would put me off.    

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© 2008 Paul Kavanagh. All rights reserved.