IBM wants to shoot a spot with a guy talking, seemingly to himself, in a park, yelling, scaring pigeons. It’s for a phone imbedded in glasses (that doesn’t yet exist).

We do homework on pigeon wranglers in New York. Central Park seems a likely place. The project takes on a level of absurdity. Each wrangler can only deal with two or three pigeons and the pigeons have to be strung with monofilament. Worse, the pigeons (trained) look adorable, pinks and fuchsias and baby blues, not your normal flying rat pigeon. This simple idea has become absurdly complicated. Ironically, there are no accumulations of pigeons in New York.

I remember the piazza across from the Duomo in Milan. Trillions of pigeons. I also recall pigeons in Venice in the Piazza San Marco. I have production call Mario in Roma and ask about the Venice pigeons to be sure they aren’t seagulls.

‘They are pigeons.’

‘How do you control them?’

‘It’s easy. You draw them by dropping food, bread crumbs, etc. then you clap two pieces of wood together. They fly away, then, still ravenous, free food, they come back. Simple. They are pigeons.’

‘What about the crowds of people?’

‘No problem. They all leave by five, on the last boats. The tourists are too cheap to stay here. They just come to San Marco, take some pictures, buy a t-shirt, and leave.’

I explain everything to the agency.

‘Here are your choices. You shoot here, greenscreen pigeons, no idea of the dynamic with the actor, and the cost of compositing, and the wranglers, and the time is ridiculous and the  chance is that the compositing will look phony. You’ll have to composite eight or ten shots.’


‘You go to Venice for the same money, shoot and see what you’re shooting, have a global spot, and have dinner at Harry’s Bar.’

We have dinner at Harry’s Bar.