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A Very Fowl Film

“People say never to work with babies or animals,” says Alex Bogusky, executive creative director of hot ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky. “But I think the people who say that have never worked with chickens.”

“People say never to work with babies or animals,” says Alex Bogusky, executive creative director of hot ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky. “But I think the people who say that have never worked with chickens.”

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Bogusky should know, having buffed his creds yet again as the ad industry’s go-to man for poultry-themed cinema. Having delivered the capon equivalent of “Basic Instinct” with the sleazy Subservientchicken.com, CP+B upped the stakes this time by doing an encore chicken-centered performance piece for Burger King’s fries – this one involving real, live fowl.

The agency’s latest Web foray, which can be seen on chickflix.com, is a series of mini film clips of chickens milling around a tiny set that viewers can string together to create their own barnyard pot boiler.

The stars, Bogusky says, had a “class system that determines who plays what roles.” Guess that’s where the term “pecking order” comes from, although it probably didn’t originate on a sound stage in LA.

Mike Howard, Crispin’s main chicken handler, confessed that, this being Hollywood, a certain prima donna-like behavior ran rampant on the set. “The sad truth is, all chickens act like preening superstars,” he says. “You can’t imagine the immensity of chicken ego we were forced to deal with. Our lead rooster – a young, aggressive Leghorn – refused to place one foot on set with the other chickens (who were actually brown hens and, to be fair, much more docile birds and vastly inferior actors), so we filmed them separately and then composited them together in each of the shots they shared.”

Like all superstars, the birds had their whims, which their posses scrambled to satisfy. “They liked potato chips, and yet ironically, they had the restraint to not eat the French fries all over the set.”

Still, Howard had nothing but praise for his feathered thespians, despite their occasionally diva-like eccentricities. Like any Oscar contenders, he said, “They demanded darkness and complete quiet as they entered and exited the set.”

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In the end, however, “these chickens were all real pros, drawing heavily from the Brechtian acting traditions. In the words of our director, “We sense their authority as stage actors, and yet there is always a self-reference – the audience is always aware of the satire.”

We’ll be looking for their appearance soon on “Inside the Actor’s Studio.”

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About the author

Linda Tischler writes about the intersection of design and business for Fast Company.

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