Greetings fron Twain Harte, CA (elevation: 4,000 ft.), where Wild Lens’ own documentary Scavenger Hunt: An Unlikely Union is being screened as a featured film at the second annual Twain Harte Film Festival. Hidden away up in the pine-filled Sierras, this pleasant little town boasts its fair share of vultures and deer, and a hike at nearby Pinecrest Lake yesterday saw a good number of osprey gliding and swooping in search of fish. Twain Harte has been hosting the festival all weekend since its kick-off on Friday evening with a screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary next year.

It’s surprisingly appropriate that a film like The Birds was the first screening at a festival where Scavenger Hunt is being shown, as its sci-fi theme of nature retaliating against the unnatural ways of modern man ties right into the essential issue at the heart of Scavenger Hunt itself: the consequences of man’s careless apathy towards nature.

On hand for the screening was actress Veronica Cartwright, who, among starring in The Birds as a 12-year old child actress, has been in such films as Alien and The Witches of Eastwick. On top of sharing some stories of partying with Ridley Scott and Jack Nicholson, Cartwright offered some interesting insight into the treatment of birds during the filming of The Birds. At one point in the film, a seagull swoops down and bites a girl on the head. To film this scene, a seagull was tethered to a string, with its beak and legs bound. During filming, the large bird broke loose from its string, and the production had to be shut down while the bird was re-captured, as it would have surely died with its bindings still on. In another scene, a mass of tiny birds swarms down a house’s chimney and terrorizes a family in its home. This scene was actually filmed on a set contained in an air-tight bubble, where 15,000 actual sparrows were released down a chimney, re-collected, and released again and again for different takes. These techniques would surely never be allowed by PETA in today’s Hollywood — things have come a long way in 50 years. Scavenger Hunt screens this afternoon at 4:30 PM, and I’ll be on hand to report the event. In the mean time, enjoy the long weekend!

Eric Podolsky

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