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Pigeons and Tastykakes
June 20, 2000

Call time: 6:00 a.m.
Location: Liberty Bell, WHYY offices

Cast: Lucy, Hayden Saunier, Jose, Michael Rosario

Filming today was split in two. In the morning, before the rain, we shot establishing scenes of the city getting ready for the tourists -- a worker buffing the floors at the Liberty Bell, a horse and carriage making it's way from North Philadelphia downtown.

At Independence Park we meet Joe, who informs us that on Sunday mornings he doesn't usually wax the wooden floors. He agrees to fake it for us. Joe and the park ranger assigned to the project couldn't be nicer, and the Liberty Bell filming goes like clockwork.

We move to 13th and Spring Garden,the headquarters of the Philadelphia Carriage Company. The horse stables and carriages are housed in a reconfigured factory building. It's a remarkable site, to see these beautiful horses being groomed in the middle of this urban environment.

As we wait for the horse and carriage to be prepared, I notice above there are hundreds of pigeons on the rooftops and telephone wires, fluttering. It looks like a scene from the Hitchcock film, and my mind clicks.

The story we are filming next week, written by Bruce Graham, is titled "The Pigeon Problem," and involves a conflict between new South Philadelphia residents Suze and Curt Kowalski, and their next door neighbor, an older man named Mickey, who feeds pigeons outside of his house each morning.

For the shoot we plan on renting about forty pigeons (they're not cheap), in hopes of creating the illusion of hundreds of pigeons that cause a problem for a South Philadelphia community. All along I've been worried that forty pigeons won't look like enough . . .

DP John MacElhenney shoots office scene with Lucy It turns out that each morning at 13th and Spring Garden Streets, an older man actually feeds pigeons. Hundreds of pigeons. We cover our heads and get the camera out, and film the pigeons as they fly above, land and hover,then fly again in formation overhead. All we need do next week is film Suze and Curt looking up, and we can cut in these pigeon scenes. I don't doubt that anyone will have trouble believing that this many pigeons could cause a problem between neighbors. I feel very lucky this morning.

In the afternoon we set up at WHYY, where we dressed the television offices to be the office of mural painter Lucy Wolf. We film the scene where Lucy checks in at the beginning of her day, and finds out that everyone wants a piece of her . . . she's being pressured by neighborhood organizations, the mayor's office, and by friends who want to make sure she attends a funeral service that day for a colleague that has died. Hayden and Michael (Lucy and Jose) have a nice rapport,and the filming goes well.

Erin Knight, Glenn Holsten, Emily Topper, Michael Hollinger, and John MacElhenney We shoot the scene from three different angles.That means three different lighting set ups.It's a full day, but production goes smoothly. And we don't even have to care about the rain falling outside.

It's nice to be on familiar turf. We know everything about the place -- where the electricity is, where we can set up food, phones, bathrooms. . .

Jose, Michael Rosario film debut Still, some production drama unfolds. Once again, keys are locked in one of our production vehicles downstairs, but the production team solves the problem. We wrap for the day on time (around 6:30 p.m.) and try to put everything back the way we found it. We leave boxes of Tastykakes on everyone's chair as a way of saying thank you for whoever's desks we might have rearranged. The next morning, when I'm at my desk I hear a chorus of oohs and aahs as people arrive to find the treats on their seats. Whatever havoc we may have caused is forgiven. This reaffirms my faith in the power of the Krimpet.

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