Muntjac Magicians Explained: About This Magical Vessel

magicians is back for season 3, but his world is without magic. How is a show about magicians supposed to be interesting if there’s no magic? Well, maybe there’s still some magic around. Apart from the glow of magic left in Julia (Stella Maeva), magicians are deprived of their power, but there are still other natural sources.

With the fairies secretly controlling Fillory and the magical void left at the end of last season, Eliot (Hale Appleman) sets out with his friends to find a way to restore the lost magic by recovering a series of keys. The first, however, is in a location accessible only by sea, so he will board a ship, the Muntjac, on his journey.

Collider visited magicians staged and toured the impressive and detailed interiors of Muntjac last year, and we got the inside scoop on this magical new set that book readers will no doubt be eager to see in action. Executive producer Will GambleProducer Chris Fisher and production designer Margot ready revealed details about the different types of magic, what magic still exists, the sentient tree that powers the Muntjac, boat design features and more.

The magic may be gone, but that’s not ALL


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Image via Syfy

SERA GAMBLE: Long story short, when you don’t have magic and you’re magicians and everything about your life and your world requires magic, you might be inclined to go on a quest to get it back. For that, they need a very, very special mode of transport.

The source of magic has been shut down, but magical creatures still exist in our world because it’s not like a magic current. Their DNA is just different from ours. And because of that, some magical creatures still have properties that are, to you and me, a bit magical. One of these magical creatures is the sentient trees of Fillory. And that’s what the boat is made of. It is therefore a very special and unusual boat. It’s the kind of boat from the outside, it looks like a nice little boat, and from the inside it looks as big as a sound stage.

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The Muntjac is a real boat


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Photo by Carla Day

CHRIS FISHER: First of all, we had to find a boat and buy a boat. That was most of our break: chasing a boat, finding a big old boat we can buy, and turning it into a real magic boat. There is a real boat, a practical boat, which we use for exterior shots.

We found this beautiful boat and we had to get an idea of ​​what the boat looked like inside. I think it was John [McNamara] and serums [Gamble] from the start they were like “the inside of the boat should be magical, it can be as big as you want it to be.”

But… The Muntjac is also a whole


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Photo by Carla Day

FISHER: We demolished Julia’s apartment. [set]pushed the [Muntjac] put at the limit of what we can do [on our stages]. … If you take a look at the steps, they take you to the top of a real boat. When we shoot on the boat at sea, or wherever we take it, we shoot with drones, and hand-to-hand combat, or even platforms, ship-to-ship with cranes and other things.

All of a sudden the characters are going to come down, you see them practically coming down, opening this little door that I can’t even get in, and all of a sudden you’re going down those stairs and boom. You are here. It sells the magic of the show and that anything is possible, and through even the smallest doors in life, they can unlock great adventures. Some of the big meta stuff on our show is really embodied in this set.

The boat is magical

MARGOT READY: What I find really funny is that we knew from the start that making a boat for magicians is not going to be just a boat. It’s going to be a very magical, creative and also totally original boat.

In the spirit of our show, Fillory also being a magical place, this boat is actually a living creature. This tree, we call it Heartwood, is called her. He creates the boat, so the challenge of the design was to always be aware that it is always a living entity, as well as a boat. It’s a functional boat and it’s a tree with a spirit.


The Muntjac has “moods”

READY: the tree has a core and a heart whose light changes and vibrates with the mood of the boat. And we’ve seen it a few times when the boat gets excited and communicates. It’s not like some sort of “close encounters” experience where you know what the tree is saying, but sometimes people feel the mood of the tree.

The Heartwood takes root throughout the boat


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Photo by Carla Day

READY: And the design thought was to always evoke the tree, as well as the boat. We know it’s made of wood so of course it’s a tree but also the roots go into the ground and those flourishes kind of represent the energy coming from the roots to make the boat.

The branches actually arch down into these ribs and then we have a floral pattern along the ribs. The idea being that the closer to the tree the more tree-like it is and that dissipates into the rest of the boat, but you still have an arch here that reminds you that it’s turning into a tree again.

READY: The tree itself is supposed to look like an altar, so we don’t have a bandage around it. It’s just kind of a sacred area around the tree.

Magicians rules inspired design


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Image via Syfy

FISHER: We have established these very strict rules about how this fantasy works. We know that this year, of course, magic is dead, so magicians cannot use magic, but magical creatures still possess magical powers because their magic does not come from any source. It’s part of them.

This ship is a sentient, magical creature, you will see that is why the Heartwood shines. It was a fun thing that we got to play with, how our rules inspire our design, and then it goes back. One of the big concerns from a director and a DP (director of photography) perspective is that this is going to happen without magic, so how does this boat…how do we light this set? How do we see? We couldn’t use the electricity, because there is no electricity in Fillory. We couldn’t use magic, because magic is dead. We created these cool portholes. The portholes also don’t match the size of the portholes on the boat, but here we have these beautiful streams of light with atmosphere. It looks so amazing.

We invented these flickering candles. This flickering light is supposed to sell the light of fire. It was a big challenge. Imagine it’s a big wooden box, which is a nightmare for DP, because we don’t light our sets from above, it’s one of our show lighting rules. We are not setting up a big lighting grid. We illuminate the characters. We do not light the sets.

With the actors moving around, it became difficult. So what you’ll see when you watch it on TV, as the ship turns, the sun will turn, and the beams of light will move and draw through here. It was a huge problem we were facing and the solution was something truly magical.

magicians airs Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. ET on Syfy.


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