Paulie (A Movie by the Birds)


I am excited. And why am I excited? Because of a movie-yes a movie. I am so happy because finally someone in Hollywood figured out that birds are very popular pets and has done something about it.

For years movies have been coming out with starring roles for dogs and cats, and even a pig. Now, if a movie about a pig can make such a big impression on people-and a second movie starring that pig is already in production-just think what a bird could do?

If you ask people to think of some popular bird that has appeared in a show from either T.V. or the movies, what usually comes up is that old T.V. show "Baretta." You remember, the cop (Robert Blake) with his pet cockatoo. I use to watch that show, and I can remember all the people who ran out to buy cockatoos as pets.

And, if you ask the younger generation the same question, those people think of Big Bird from "Sesame Street."

I feel those are pretty poor choices for we real bird lovers! Well, get ready-a movie all about a bird just hit the "big screen."

On April 17, 1998, Dream works, Steven Spielberg's new production company, released "Paulie." Paulie is not only the name of this movie, but also the name of the leading star-a Blue-crowned Conure.

This is a full length family movie containing realbirds as characters. The main character is Paulie, a Bluecrowned Conure, and there are other birds (a Nanday Conure, a Cherryheaded Conure and a Jenday Conure) with supporting roles.

"Paulie," a modem day fable, tells the story of a parrot that learns human language, but never quite understands humans' strange ways. The story is told through the eyes of Paulie as he journeys through a series of funny and touching adventures over a 20-year span in his quest to return to the little


girl who raised and loved him. During those 20 years, he has nine different owners and many adventures.

The filming of "Paulie" began in Los Angeles in July of 1997 in an historic office building (built in 1914) in downtown Los Angeles. The different floors house several of the film's interior sets. The balance of the filming was done on locations in and around Los Angeles, as well as in a converted warehouse in Vernon, California.

I have been to both the indoor sets as well as out on locations. One of the indoor sets had what appeared to be a real house built inside, even though most was just a facade. But, there were some rooms inside that were even furnished, and included stairways to nowhere. That was something to experience, for as I walked through this interior stage setup, I really felt I was in a home.

The location filming was done outdoors in different areas in Los Angeles. I went to two of those outdoor filming locations, both of which were in downtown Los Angeles. One was on a dirt straw-covered parking lot. Filming


took place during the night, and lasted all through the night. There were a few set rules though, no live bird filming after midnight. The reason for this was that there were scenes filmed on location where filming started at about 7:00 P.M. and ran until 5:00 A.M. The birds needed their sleep so midnight was the time the birds retired for the night.

And believe me, these birds were truly treated like stars. They had their own air conditioned trailer where they stayed between shooting-just like the human stars.

At the other filming location I visited, the filming took place during the day, in the rain outside a large building, right in Olvera Street. This was done outdoors, with some of the birds cast in full flight. The birds stayed right with their trainers, having no desire to fly off.

The Dream Works production of "Paulie" was directed by John Roberts ("War of the Buttons") from an original screenplay by Laurie Craig ("Modem Girls"). The film was produced by Mark Gordon C'Speed," "Broken Arrow," "Hard Rain [formerly "The Flood']),

Gary Levinsohn ("12 Monkeys", "Hard Rain") and Allison Segan C'Speed," "Broken Arrow"). Ginny Nugent ("The Craft," "Bloodline") is the executive producer, with Michele Weisler ("The Trigger Effect," "Saints and Sinners") coproducing.

The birds were supplied by Boone Narr, of "Animals for Hollywood." He and his crew spent more than three months teaching the birds the tricks that were needed for this movie. Back in early 1997, Boone started on his quest to buy numerous Blue-crowns. Most of the birds purchased were wild untamed birds. A total of 14 Bluecrowns were used for the making of this movie. As for the other birds, six of each species were purchased and trained for their parts, since the parts were much smaller.