An Honest Liar

An Honest Liar

  • BY Tyler Measom & Justin Weinstein | IN Arts & Culture
    Premiered March 28, 2016

About the Film

For the last half-century, James “The Amazing” Randi has entertained millions with his dazzling feats of magic, escape, and trickery. Along the way he discovered that faith healers, fortune-tellers, and psychics were using his beloved magician’s tricks to swindle money from the credulous. Fed up with the fraud, he dedicated his life to exposing con artists with a wit and over-the-top showmanship all his own. An Honest Liar is part detective story, part biography, and a bit of a magic act itself. MORE

An acolyte of Harry Houdini, Randi became a famed magician-turned-debunker of psychics and mediums in his own right with a series of unparalleled investigations and elaborate hoaxes. These grand schemes fooled scientists, the media, and a gullible public, but always in service of demonstrating the importance of skepticism and the dangers of magical thinking. Randi was a frequent guest on TV variety and talk shows, most notably The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, uncloaking high profile scams, like the “spoonbending” of illusionist Uri Geller. Eventually Randi’s efforts won him the prestigious MacArthur “Genius” Award.

When dealing with a master deceiver, however, the truth can be elusive. A sudden and shocking revelation threatens to bring down Randi’s own house of cards, and the magician who spent his life exposing phonies may be the victim of a devastating deceit himself.

An Honest Liar is told through interviews with Randi, vintage footage of his TV appearances, and interviews with illusionists, performers, and skeptics alike, including Adam Savage, Penn & Teller, Bill Nye, Geller, Alice Cooper, and more.

The Filmmakers

Justin Weinstein is a Brooklyn-based former scientist whose work includes documentary feature films and broadcast journalism. He is an executive producer of Bronx Obama, a documentary directed by Ryan Murdoch now available on Showtime and iTunes. He co-wrote and edited Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey, which won the Special Jury Prize at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, premiered on Independent Lens, and was nominated for The Humanitas Prize. Prior to that, Weinstein produced numerous projects for ABC News, “Peter Jennings Reporting,” and PBS, including “Hot Politics” for FRONTLINE and the ABC News Primetime special “Last Days on Earth.”

Tyler Measom is the co-director/producer of Sons of Perdition, which tells the story of teenagers exiled from their polygamist Mormon community. The documentary premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was acquired by the Oprah Winfrey Network. He was an executive producer of the feature film Take (Tribeca Festival Premiere) starring Minnie Driver and Jeremy Renner. He has written, produced, and directed nearly one hundred commercials, short documentaries, and industrials for a wide range of national and international clients. He won an Emmy for the PBS documentary Beehive Spirits and produced the Showtime documentary Jesus Town. He is currently in production on the documentary New Sensation, about the birth, rise, and cultural effects of MTV. Tyler lives in Salt Lake City under the shade of a giant oak tree. LESS

Film Credits

A Film by
Justin Weinstein
Tyler Measom

Written by
Justin Weinstein
Greg O’Toole
Tyler Measom

Directed by
Justin Weinstein
Tyler Measom

Executive Producers
Nick Fraser
Greg Henry
Gill Holland
Stephanie Levy
Gary Schermerhorn
David Shadrack Smith
Barry Sonnenfeld
Vijay Vaidyanathan

Produced by
Tyler Measom
Justin Weinstein

Music by
Joel Goodman

Edited by
Greg O’Toole

Featuring (in order of appearance)
James “The Amazing” Randi
Penn Jillette
Prof. Ray Hyman
Prof. Richard Wiseman
Michael Shermer
Adam Savage
Deyvi Peña (aka the artist Jose Alvarez)
Banachek (aka Steve Shaw)
Jamy Ian Swiss
Alice Cooper
Alec Jason
Bill Nye
Michael Edwards
Uri Geller

Cinematography by
Tyler Measom
Justin Weinstein

Associate Producers
Yana Zeltser Weinstein
Thomas Guthrie

Line Producers
Duane Andersen
Laura Montoya

Additional Cinematography by
Greg Bernstein
Dominic Dorin
Jeff Hutchens
Adam Moffat
Gary Turnier
Yana Zeltser Weinstein
Tristan Whitman
Bryan Young

Erik Beck
Igori Kamoevi
Kevin Lewis
Barry Strickland

Assistant Camera
Daniel Schade
Drew Sugimoto
Colin Trenbeath

Production Mixer
Nathan Whitcomb
James Peterson

Digital Imaging Technician
Yukie Hashimoto

Additional Editor
Justin Weinstein

1st Assistant Editor
Keith Overton

Assistant Editors
Duane Andersen
Skye Emerson
Ross Laing
Kristina Motwani
Mark Nott
Junior Nunez
Ben Sidoti
Craig Rinkerman

Music Consultant
Tracy McKnight

Music Production Manager
Andrew DeWitt

Joel Goodman
Vicente Ortiz Gimeno

Supervising Sound Editor and Re-Recording Mixer
Tom Paul

Sound Effects Editor
Andrea Bella

Dialog Editor
Michael Feuser

Foley Artist
Leslie Bloome

Foley Mixer
Carl Shilito

Production Manager
Anna Maltese
Jonna McLaughlin

Office Manager
Frank Lopez

Production Assistants
Dustin Ong
Michael Fitzgerald
Zach Youngblood
Aliyah Levin C
Sabrina Colisimo

Lead Researcher
Kim Scheinberg

Archival Research
Laura Montoya
John Miller-Monzon
Andrew Strenio

Transcription Services
Roman Bateman
Shonali Gajwani
Matthew Hirsch
Laura Montoya
Megan Parke

Title Design and Image Effects
Company 3 Design

Digital Intermediate Provided by
Company 3

Archival Footage Conversion
Universal Post

Additional Post Services
Quad Tape Transfer
Visual Image Hollywood
Color Mill

Photo Correction
Tiffany Burke
Kernan Coleman

Legal Services Provided by
Jeff Breglio
Chris Perez

Archival Materials
American Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)
Atlas Media
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
Ron Burton/Getty Images
Carson Entertainment Group
CBC TV Archive Sales
Center for Inquiry Library / American Humanist Association
Channel Nine Archives
City of Toronto Archives
Angela Easton
Michael Edwards
FremantleMedia International
Alexander Jason
James Randi
James Randi Educational Foundation
LBS Communications
Library of Congress
Nine Network Australia
Deyvi Pena
Pond 5
Prelinger Archives
Steve Shaw
Sydney Opera House
T3 Media
WGBH Boston
WVCB-TV Boston

“You’ve Got (The Magic Touch)”
Words and Music by: Buck Ram
Performed by: Joyce Haun
(c) Universal Music Corp. on behalf of itself and A.M.C, INC (ASCAP)

“Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get”
Written by: Anthony Hester (1971)
Performed by: The Dramatics
Courtesy of Stax Records
Published by EMI Longitude Music
Used by Permission of Concord Music Group, Inc

Special Thanks
The Academy of Magical Arts
Rick Adams
John Dehlin
Susan Dmitrovsky
Geralyn Dreyfous
Genéa Gaudet
Sarah Gavlak
Aidan Measom
Kent and Connie Measom
Wilmer Melean
Tim and Elaine O’Toole
Jack and Susan Weinstein

In loving memory of Doran Weinstein

Funding Provided by
BBC Storyville
Tyson Jacobsen
Saud Al Gurg
Michael Randazzo
Curt Harpold
Douglas W Kinney, DMD
Tony and Jessica Rush
Ben Siepser
Kevin Alix
Marc Fermella
And others. A complete list available from PBS.

This program was produced by Flim Flam Films, LLC which is solely responsible for its content.


Do you believe in any aspect of magic, the paranormal, or parapsychology? After watching An Honest Liar are you more skeptical or do you still believe?


  • AFI Docs Festival
    Best Documentary, Audience Award
  • Newport Beach Film Festival
    Jury Award
  • Napa Valley Film Festival
    Jury Award
  • Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival
    Spirit of Independents Award
  • Hot Docs International Documentary Festival
    Top 10 Audience Favorite
Please review our comment guidelines.
Do you believe in any aspect of magic, the paranormal, or parapsychology? After watching An Honest Liar are you more skeptical or do you still believe?