Today we’d like to introduce you to Dylan George.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Between being a Magician & Mentalist and Actor on Netflix’s “100 Humans” and Co-Founder of Battle Party LA (a mobile Nerf Party company) I’m always busy!
When I moved out to Los Angeles in September of 2015, I came out here with a suitcase and a dream. I didn’t know anyone at all, but that didn’t matter. Honestly, that made it even more exciting. Coming from Ohio and the Midwest in general, California always seemed like this magical place where dreams came true and imagination ran wild. Ever since I was five, I had always wanted to live there.
I had been memorizing and quoting movies, television shows, and songs since I was two years old. My Dad still tells stories of how we had this big rock in our back yard and I would climb on top of it, barely able to stand, and just start belting “Riders on the Storm” by The Doors. So it wasn’t much of a shock when I told my family that I wanted to move out to Los Angeles and become an Actor.
But no one really prepares you for how difficult of a career path it is. It’s unlike any other field in the world. There’s no linear pattern, no corporate ladder, no 9 to 5. It’s tough to make a living at in the beginning. So, you find alternate forms of income to keep your dreams alive.
I met my best friend, Mack Corl, working at TAO Los Angeles, an upscale Asian bistro in the heart of Hollywood. For 3.5 years, we served celebrities, influencers, and people who thought they were celebrities, expensive cocktails and sushi. I would often sing the food orders to people or practice doing different characters when I dropped the food off, in an effort to entertain them and keep my sanity. Eventually, I realized I would quickly become stuck in the “golden handcuffs” of food service unless I found a new means to fund my acting dreams. That’s when Mack, an Entrepreneurial savant, hit me with an idea. Why don’t we just start our own company?
Besides working at TAO, Mack and I had been doing odd jobs for an event company that did various outdoor activities for kids. The company had several different activities that they offered, but one of the activities caught our eye, Nerf parties. All my life before this I had played with Nerf Guns. It had been a hobby my entire life. We had tons of ideas on how to improve the parties based off customer input and our own insight. As most companies are though, they were reluctant to take business ideas from new employees. So, that’s when Mack and I had the idea to create a company that specialized only in Nerf Parties, and not all the other stuff. We knew that we should pursue our own ideas and left the company to start our own. That’s when Battle Party LA LLC was born!
Our fully mobile and completely customizable Nerf Battlefields can go wherever our clients want! Parks, country clubs, residences, courtyards, you name it, we are there. Normally, Nerf battlefields are standardized and never change. However, since ours are inflatable, our guests can mold the battlefield to be anything they want! We can even host parties in the smallest of spaces. One of the other unique characteristics about our parties is our building bunkers. Shaped like boxes, ammo cans, tires, and other battlefield objects, they can be attached to one another to create walls, forts, turrets, or whatever else our players want!
This fully immersive ultimate Nerf experience takes all the hassle out of a party set up. Just tell us a location and we are there. We set up, run the event, and breakdown the whole thing, so the parents and party hosts do not have to worry about running the party and can simply relax and enjoy the party. With over eight different game modes and a focus on safety (all players must wear protective eye gear and adhere to a set of rules) the fun is endless! We also encourage parents to play! On June 27, we were featured on KTLA-5 as one of Los Angeles’ newest and innovative COVID-19 safe actives. Now, we are an official business, with nearly 100 parties under our belt in a little over a year, and we keep growing every day!
In addition to Co-Owning Battle Party LA, I am an actor. I’ve done over 15 years in stage performances, but my dream has been to be in television and movies. One of my early breaks came in 2018 when I booked a job on Netflix’s “100 Humans” on which I played Human #22. The show revolved around exploring the Human psyche and detecting the slight differences in social behaviors between groups of people from different geographical, economic, ethnic, and political-social backgrounds. Over a period of 10 days, we were blindly put through a series of rigorous tests and experiments that changed us forever.
Whenever we were not in the labs experimenting, we were kept in holding. This is where they put all the actors who don’t have trailers when they are not needed on set. Like a greenroom, of sorts. We were all dressed the same, stripped of our phones or any other electrical devices that connected us to the outside world, and for about 16 hours a day, kept in a room with complete strangers. To me, this was the most life-changing experiment of all. I’ve had friends since 1st grade, that I’ve known almost my entire life. However, the time I shared with the people in that room, forged unbreakable friendships and romances on a level deeper than the relationships I had had my entire life. There’s something about simply existing in a confined space with no distractions whatsoever, stripped of all individuality (other than your personality of course), and experiencing the same things with other strangers. It bonds for life. Truly, a breathtaking, indescribable feeling.
I honestly can say that “100 Humans” changed my life. Before the show even aired (it took two years to complete in post before airing on Netflix on March 13th, 2020), one of the people form the show, Janelle Hopkins, sent me a message on Facebook with a link to a craigslist ad. Normally, I ignore these types of messages, but the title of the add was “Celebrity Magician Seeking Assistant”. Now, I have no illusions that I am a stunning bikini clad Instagram model with millions of followers, but at the time, I was still working at TAO and in the developmental phases of creating Battle Party LA. I was itching for a change and magic had enthralled me my entire life. I figured, what the hell, and I clicked the link to send in my resume.
There was only one problem, the link to submit was broken. For some reason, it wouldn’t open. I thought it might be a hoax, but something inside me told me that I needed to find a way to submit to this. It took me a few hours, but after lots of internet digging, I found out that the Celebrity Magician in question was in fact, Johnny Wu, one of Los Angeles’ most respected and famous magicians. I found his website and I thought, I’ll just submit a contact form. The only problem was, there was no contact form, just a “book now” page. Since this was the only way to contact him, I booked Johnny for a gig. That’s when a phone number came up on the screen. To this day, I swear this was divine intervention or something. I called that number and a voice on the other end of the line picked up and said “Hi, this is Johnny”. I explained to him in an excited voice that I had tried to submit to his craigslist ad, but it wasn’t working and that I’ve loved magic all my life. I think I talked for waaaay too long because when I was done there was silence on the other end of the line for a solid 10 seconds. His reply was simply “how did you get this number?” I said it was listed on his website. He said it wasn’t. I explained that it was. To this day, he swears that number was nowhere on his website, and when I checked again after the call, he was right.
At the end of the call, Johnny commended my resourcefulness in getting my application through. He eventually gave me an interview. That’s when I began my research into his mannerisms and style. I collect novelty suits, and so did he (what a coincidence!) so to my interview, I wore a suit by the same company that made his famous Pac-Man suit. It was a fantastic icebreaker. When the interview actually started though, I removed the suit jacket and put on an actual one. It was a group interview, I was there with one other person. He was hammering us with the typical questions, including “sell me this pen”. He revealed to us that in fact wasn’t looking for an assistant but rather an apprentice. I left feeling confident in my performance, but unsure of the results.
Two weeks later, I received the phone call that changed my life. It was Johnny. Out of all the candidates for the job, he had picked me. Training was to begin immediately. I didn’t know what to say. All my life, I had watched famous magicians perform incredible miracles and entertain millions of people worldwide. Now, I was going to be one of them.
This was in May of 2019. We met often and he trained me for 8 hours a day. He taught me literally everything he knew how to do. I felt like I was living in a movie. Some wise Master was training a complete nobody. I was learning everything it had taken him to learn over 17 years. It was the most insane moment of my life. After about a month and a half of practicing over 4 hours a day and meeting for training sessions, the time had come for my first live performance. As to be expected, it went well, but there were some mistakes. Everyone starts somewhere, right?
Long story short that was about a year ago. I now have over 100 magic performances under my belt. In the short span of a year, I auditioned for the world-renowned Magic Castle. I made it in on my first try. While COVID-19 may have the world in a state of uncertainty, I take immense joy in knowing that the work I do brings light and wonder into the eyes of people everywhere. Reading minds and hypnotizing people is no easy task. There are always skeptics and hecklers out there, but to be honest, I’m glad there are. People always criticize what they do not understand, art being the biggest receiver of this. Magic is an art form, just like sculpture or painting. And I love what I do. My job is literally to entertain people and make their lives better, even if just for an instant.
Has it been a smooth road?
Nothing in life is a smooth road. Anyone who tells you it’s been easy has never earned or worked towards anything. Moving across the country by yourself to pursue a career with a less than 1% success rate is difficult enough. Add not knowing a single soul, having all your bills more than triple because of the new cost of living, and not knowing where to start or how to actually move towards achieving your dreams to all that, and you’ve got one big heaping pile of….well you know. It’s not like you have a set path or a ladder to climb rung by rung. It’s incredibly humbling.
Every job I’ve ever had outside of a theatre, I’ve been met with adversity. I am an exceptionally extroverted and energetic person. Some people can’t handle that. When I would get jobs at restaurants or other places, management would constantly be on me to eliminate my personality and fall in line with the company brand. I understand why, but I can’t simply destroy who I am just to make a dollar. Even if I was a favorite of the guests, I was always pushed to the side or punished by management for being an individual. I never got promoted to server, I always got the crap shifts, etc.
Starting your own company is no walk in the park either, let me tell you. Mack and I funded the entire thing ourselves. In the beginning, we restarted Battle Party LA about different ways, only to find it fail each time. But life is a process of trial and error. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” The single most important thing you can do is never give up. Each time I failed, I knew it was just one path in the maze that didn’t lead to my goal. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a path that does, it just means I needed to turn around and find a way to get to the end.
Being an Actor is always a constant struggle. Hollywood is such a visual medium. You could give an incredible audition, but you’re too tall. You could train for years and not get a single audition. You’re constantly bombarded with rejection and failure after failure. It’s quite disheartening if you don’t know how to deal with it. But I adhere by Bryan Cranston’s advice and never look at an audition as a job interview, but rather as my personal artistic interpretation of the role. In this way, I know that everyone in that casting room is my ally and wants me to succeed. I can’t control what they are looking for, I can only show them what I can do. And if I go in there and really give it my all, that’s all I can ask for.
There have been multiple times that I have failed during magic shows. In front of LARGE crowds. I misread someone’s mind, they lie, or a trick malfunctions or something. I think the best part of life is its uncertainty. If we could predict every single thing that happened, it would be a story that we’ve read before. A life that we’ve already lived. I don’t know about you, but to me, that would be utterly insufferable. The unknown is what makes life so cosmically interesting. So pure. So exciting. If something happens and life throws a stick at you, do you let that stick hit you? Or do you catch it and throw it on your fire?
At the end of the day, I live my life by the words of my father. “You control two things, your attitude, and your output.” Everything else is out of your control. When you start encountering struggles, you know you’re on the right path.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Los Angeles is the city of Angeles. The City of Dreams. The city of insanely high rent and gas prices. All that aside, what better place in the entire world to pursue what makes you happy than a city where anything is possible and dreams come true every second?
Speaking from a business standpoint, California is not an easy place to begin a business. The taxes and fees are high, and there are lots of regulations and STRICT guidelines that you need to follow in order to operate successfully.
Keeping all that in mind though, you also have one the biggest and most diverse markets in the entire world. You have access to literally millions of people with hundreds of millions of interests. I say if you have the wherewithal and tenacity to establish yourself here, go for it. Just know that it won’t be easy, competition is fierce, and it’s expensive…but then again, the greatest things in life are not without risk.
- $375 – Nerf Party for 1.5 Hours and up to 14 kids
- $475 – Super Nerf Party for 2 Hours and up to 20 Kids
- $600 – Fortnite Nerf Party for 2 Hours and up to 25 Kids
- Website: www.battlepartyla.com
- Phone: 9893277111
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @iamdylangeorge
- Other: https://www.johnnywu.co/team-wu