Thursday, September 06, 2001

BIO: Everything or Nothing (2005)

WARNING BIOSPOILERS -- Everything or Nothing
(2005) tg

in Fictionalized Setting: Austin, Texas

It's a good thing animals don't have their own union: This is a fun story to tell because i am in the film, in the scene where there are, well, let's just say there are animal problems. And there is little actually wrong here in the usual biospoiler sense, but . . .

Here's the story. I showed up prepared for my role as a bum in a rundown neighborhood. The star of the film, Natasha Melnick (of Freaks and Geeks fame) has already been filming for several days -- her character Lynny's a highly-dependent drug addict with a heart of gold. In the scene we filmed she's getting thrown out by her junk-pushing boyfriend Rip (Travis Ammons). He also is to evict her only two real friends, a parakeet and a dog.

Now, i haven't seen the film yet to know the value of these two animals to the plot, but i do know the dog had been filmed the previous few days. I suspect the same of the bird -- a light blue Budgerigar (the everyday parakeet to most folks); that is, i imagine that it has appeared as itself in a scene or two.

Well, i'm waiting for my scene, and in the meantime various crew persons are working to get the real, live, blue parakeet out of its cage (the one used in the movie) and into a temporary cage for today's scene. At this point, and watching this take place, i don't know why.

After they successfully herd the thing into its other temporary quarters, one of the crew produces a fake bird to attach to the perch in the movie cage. He has taken a toy bird -- canary in shape -- and painted it to match the parakeet. And actually done a quite good job of painting it. Of course to someone who knows birds, it'll be obvious that the fake one perches like a finch and not a psittacid, but what the heck -- i'm still unaware at this point of what's going to happen.

Okay, that's all taken care of. Now there's a delay because of the dog. The dog shows up for work and almost immediately develops a bloody nose (wait, a dog with a bloody nose? yep . . .). The trainer rushes it off to a vet -- we wait, a phone call, the dog won't be returning. Okay.

Let's do the scene. Natasha gets thrown out of a seedy hotel room, i'm smoking a cigarette nearby with a couple other bums. She beats on the door, screams, cries, and cusses. The door opens back up and Ammons, the boyfriend/pusher, chunks the bird cage at her. I mean chunks it -- it's flying through the air (i now understand why there is a plastic stand-in for birdie).

She reaches for it, it hits her square in her reaching hands . . . and explodes. Pieces of the cage are flying everywhere. The only thing not flying is little plastic birdie (and besides the SPCA aspect, it's a good thing real birdie wasn't in the cage, or we'd be filming at a later date on this scene). Natasha does a great job of keeping her composure, while panicking (in character) over the pieces of the cage. But the crew is busting out all over. It's a priceless moment.

So after fifteen minutes of reassembling the cage and wiring it together, we get to try again. The cage never again gives any trouble.

But, when you see the film, and watch this scene, just know that when she coos and whistles at the dog, and pulls it along on the leash, there below the bottom of the frame there is no dog on the other end.

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