Baby Bird is set at a games night, you know the one, where the hosts are self-professed board game addicts, the in-jokes are unbearable and the obnoxious behaviour is all a little too much. In Baby Bird Barret Bowman utilises this uncomfortable setting and taps into it with his own brand of gross-out comedy, turning the scenario up to eleven and letting the audience bare witness to what ensues. DN caught up with the LA-based director to discover how he coerced his actors into appearing in this disgusting short film.
Where did the idea of making a film about this game begin? Please tell me you have friends who play it?
I don’t know if I could be friends with people who play this game. Maybe I’m in denial though, because we basically played it! Ha. This was Katie Locke O’Brien and Andrew Goulet just riffing one night about the best and worst party games and if I’m not mistaken, I think they were in a hot tub, not sure if that is very important but I thought it was worth mentioning.
How did you pitch your actors the story and what did they bring to the film that you didn’t expect?
Honestly, Katie and I reached out to people who we knew had our like-minded wackiness and just sent them the script. I don’t remember writing anything other than, “Pretty Please?” I was just super happy to see everyone take on their own connection with the love for the game and their own strategy.
What intrigued me most about Baby Bird is that you can’t forget it, such a specifically unique concept, was that an aspect of the idea you gravitated towards?
Absolutely. The moment after I read the script, I was legitimately honored that Katie reached out to me. I knew that we had to go all the way for it to be right and that we would be riding a pretty fine line between funny and absolutely disgusting. In the past few years, we’ve been to so many festivals and the films I remember don’t always crack my heart open with depth or beauty. Sometimes, the wild, fun, clever, and well executed ideas stick with me longer than others.
I knew that we had to go all the way for it to be right and that we would be riding a pretty fine line between funny and absolutely disgusting.
Were you inspired by any particular films or filmmakers? John Waters springs to mind as a possible inspiration?
Ha! John Waters would have crushed this too. There’s this short that Katie and I always talk about and I’m not sure if it was my exact inspiration at the time but the short film, The Bulb always speaks to me. I love when anyone takes an idea that most would think, “Ha, that’s funny but totally not worth it to make cause it’d be so much work” and just does it anyway, because, filmmaking.
How did you shoot the Baby Bird game, what kind of practical effects were used to make it as grotesque as possible?
We definitely set each level of consistency for the food as it became more and more liquid. I remember flavoring each mouth full for what the actors preferred, more sweet, less sweet. It was like a rice pudding of sorts. I’d love to give a shout out especially to Keri Blunt and Deborah Craig who had just met that night and were super down to Baby Bird. Do it for the art! Still doesn’t detract from everyone else’s courage through this!
Direction-wise, I wanted to make the line feel super odd and suddenly all straight on like a fucked up horror game show. We obviously just get closer and closer to it as a Jaws-like heartbeat comes closer and closer. I remember being strapped for time and sticking to our big slider for a lot of it.
What are you working on next? Is it something as equally disgusting?
I’ll have to work pretty hard to stay this gross! With Peter Castagnetti, I co-run our boutique production company called OhForShow, where we do all sorts of fun, purpose driven work. Alongside that, I’m really proud of the commercial comedy work I’ve been doing for goodr sunglasses. I direct all their video spots and photography. Some would call it a content director but screw the word ‘content’ so we’ve titled me the Dreamboat Captain of our media team, the ‘Department of Dreams’.
I don’t know if I could be friends with people who play this game.
Beyond that, I have other comedy short films I’m in the works of producing and directing while I keep working on and writing some feature projects. I’m having a blast making all sorts of things! In fact, Peter and I just spent a week in Wales co-producing and co-directing the live broadcast of the wonderful Do Lectures. I’ve found myself working with a bunch of fun and like-minded folks who do all different kinds of creative work and feel super grateful.
Final questions, if you were playing Baby Bird for the first time, and were last in line, would you swallow the chewed up food?
Oh man… I’m scared of what I would do if everyone was super keen on the game and I wanted to impress them. Maybe I’d just ask a couple more questions? We’ll never know and, I know it sounds crazy but, I feel like I’ve done crazier… so… screw it, baby bird me.