Hot Docs 2024: Qs à la mode with… Jon Ornoy (Lost in the Shuffle)

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Director Jon Ornoy’s Lost in the Shuffle explores both card tricks and the centuries-old murder-mystery secrets behind the images on the court cards in every deck. We posed our Qs à la mode to Jon, and here’s what he shared!


If I had to describe my film using only three adjectives, they would be: Surprising, wonderous, revealing.

I decided to make this film because: I’ve been a lifelong fan of magic, and it’s an art form that I don’t think really gets the recognition it deserves. Excelling in the field requires the mastery of so many different skills and the ability to weave them together seamlessly without betraying just how hard it all is. I hope that people walk away from the film with a better appreciation of that.

The thing that surprised me most about my film’s subject/topic was: Learning about the “52 Factorial,” which is the mathematical equation that describes the number of possible combinations that can exist in a single deck of cards. Basically, every time you shuffle, the odds are that there’s never been a deck in history that’s in the exact order as what you’re holding in your hands, nor will there ever be in the future.

The toughest part of the shoot was: Getting to the airport in Madrid at 5:30 a.m. only to find that our flight back to France had been cancelled. So, with no other alternatives and no time to waste, having to pile the entire crew in a van and drive 11 hours to our final location to shoot Shawn’s big performance — which he was still perfecting as we drove.

My favorite moment/scene/sequence in my film is: Our title sequence is pretty cool. We shot a bunch of close-up card flourishes using a robotic arm and a camera that shoots up to 1,000 frames a second, so you get to see elements of their movement that are otherwise invisible to the naked eye.

My most invaluable piece of doc-making equipment was/is: It’s kind of boring, but traveling as much as we did, my phone was the most important tool we had for coordinating all of the travel and local crews that we were hiring along the way. That and my sleep mask…

One piece of documentary-filmmaking advice I’d like to share with aspiring documentarians is: Plan your shoot as meticulously as possible, have all your questions and camera angles planned out, but then also be prepared to drop that all and chase real life when it happens. The same goes for the edit suite, because as soon as we started putting the film together it became clear that the structure in our treatment just wasn’t going to work as well on screen as it did on paper. You have to embrace that fact and see where the story leads you.


Want to check out Jon’s film, or just learn more about it?
Get the scoop, and your tickets, here!


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