Der­ren Brown chats about his Sac­ri­fice

Der­ren Brown on his lat­est epic ex­per­i­ment…

TV Times - - My Tv Times Week - Richard Mc­clure

Sac­ri­fice

AVAIL­ABLE from fri 19 oct / net­flix

Over the past few years, Der­ren Brown’s TV il­lu­sions and psy­cho­log­i­cal so­cial ex­per­i­ments have grown in am­bi­tion – none more so than 2016’s The Push in which he tried to per­suade four peo­ple to push a man off a build­ing to his cer­tain death (three of them wanted to do it).

Now, in his first spe­cial for Net­flix, the self-de­scribed ‘men­tal­ist’ pulls out all the stops as he at­tempts the ex­act op­po­site – to make some­one lay down their life to save a com­plete stranger.

In Sac­ri­fice, Der­ren uses all his pow­ers of per­sua­sion to make a prej­u­diced Amer­i­can stand up to big­otry and, lit­er­ally, take a bul­let for some­one he thinks is an il­le­gal Mex­i­can im­mi­grant.

Der­ren be­gan by sift­ing through thou­sands of ap­pli­ca­tions an­swer­ing an ad­vert look­ing for peo­ple to take part in a TV ex­per­i­ment, then se­lected Phil, a 33-year-old main­te­nance worker and fa­ther of two from Florida.

After pre­tend­ing to Phil that he was tak­ing part in a TV doc­u­men­tary about bio-tech­nol­ogy, Der­ren se­cretly set about pre­par­ing him for the test with a se­ries of tech­niques de­signed to in­crease his lev­els of fear­less­ness and em­pa­thy.

Here Der­ren, 47, tells TV Times more about the process… What is the idea be­hind Sac­ri­fice? In these ag­gres­sive times ev­ery­body seems to have their own tribal iden­ti­ties. We have grown quite in­tol­er­ant in our think­ing and can’t see other peo­ple’s points of view. The show is all about step­ping out of the re­stric­tions of these nar­ra­tives.

Why did Phil fit the bill so well? Phil has found rais­ing a fam­ily to be tough and he sees il­le­gal Mex­i­can im­mi­grants as be­ing favoured over his own fam­ily. He has fi­nan­cial pres­sures that make him blame Mex­i­cans for his trou­bles. In or­der for Phil to change so much, what needed to hap­pen? He had to have a com­plex ide­o­log­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion. For

Phil to act hero­ically, he had to do it out of fear­less­ness and em­pa­thy. Through var­i­ous psy­cho­log­i­cal tech­niques that you’ll see in the show, I wanted to create a huge per­sonal change in Phil and change his most strongly held opin­ions.

It must have been a mas­sive op­er­a­tion to put to­gether? Al­to­gether we had a crew of 100 in the US and UK, in­clud­ing stunt teams, divers, ac­tors and mul­ti­ple hid­den cam­eras. We also had a team of med­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal ex­perts on hand so they could check that Phil was ro­bust enough through­out the process.

How did Phil re­act when it was all over and he re­alised what had re­ally been go­ing on?

He told me that, apart from get­ting mar­ried and hav­ing kids, it’s the most pos­i­tive thing he has ever done in his life. It’s per­ma­nently changed his way of think­ing.

We have grown quite in­tol­er­ant in our think­ingé

Po­ten­tials: Der­ren and theau­di­tion­ees

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