I spent yesterday on the set of a movie filming in Sault Ste Marie. David provided hamsters, fish, birds and an iguana to “dress” a 1950s pet store set, and was there to see that all went well and the animals were safe and well cared-for. It was a sweltering day, and we were careful that the animals all had water. (Especially the fish! Snicker!)
We were on hand for the filming of the scenes at and in front of the pet store, and knew that the characters in the film were going to picket for animal rights, and for good treatment of the animals in the (1950s) store. While they were waiting in the indoor part of the set for the shooting to start, two of the young women waved their hands in front of the finch cage repeatedly just to see the birds fly up. After they’d done this two or three times, David asked them not to tease the finches, as they were already hot enough.
The irony of it wasn’t lost on me. I’d seen some of the indoor scene, and how the actors seemed to be really angry with the (pretend) storekeeper. At the same time, the lines they said and the feelings they were portraying didn’t carry over to their real-life behaviour. Yes, they were young. Yes, we were all really hot and draggy and tired, and they weren’t allowed to show it on camera. It just struck me somehow as odd.
It reminded me of the situation with the snapping turtle that I wrote about at the end of June. In one breath someone expresses concern; in the next action, they demonstrate a lack of care, mainly, I think, through not paying attention. I don’t believe those young actors meant to distress the finches; they just didn’t think about it. It didn’t occur to them.
I’ll talk a little more about this experience in another post, because there was lots about using animals for filming that I’d never thought of before. But for now, perhaps the thing that is most surprising is that I’m still surprised by the inconsistency people show towards animals.