SOMERS, N.Y. – Local officials prepared for the film crew of "A Birder's Guide to Everything" to be in town for a five-day location shoot, but the movie makers alighted for just two days, then darted off.
The movie tells the story of a teen birdwatcher who enlists a few friends to help him search for an extinct species of duck. Several scenes were shot Wednesday and Thursday at Somers High School.
Catapult scenes were filmed on the high school fields Thursday morning, said co-producer Dan Lindau. “It was hilarious. Our heroes have the worst, the lamest catapults.” Hallways and classrooms were used for other scenes.
“We chose Somers High because it looks like a school,” said Lindau, who lives in Chappaqua. “And the principal, Mark Bayer, used to be the assistant principal at Horace Greeley High, so he helped us out in a lot of ways. We also had an enormous amount of help from the Somers drama teacher.”
Early in July, the film’s location manager, Kara Janeczko, appeared before the Town Board to ask for a waiver of the $500 permit fee, saying Somers would benefit from extra business during the five days of shooting. The 50-person crew would dine locally, she said, fill their vehicles at local gas stations, and bring a general sense of glory to the town.
In a gesture of civic generosity, Joan and Rick Mancini, the owners of Mancini Realty, stepped forward to contribute the $500 on behalf of the town. The Somers Police conferred with the Town Board and the filmmakers about shooting along Route 100 and made careful plans for traffic control during filming. Local citizens awaited the possible arrival of the film’s star, Ben Kingsley, who plays the head of a birdwatching magazine.
In the end, no outdoor scenes were shot along Route 100 nor anywhere else, except for the high school fields. And the crew ate catered food in the high school cafeteria.
There was one positive feature. The company sent out a call for extras: slender, dark-haired 5-foot-6 females and skinny, dark-haired 5-foot-9 males. “We got lots of Somers High School kids,” said Lindau. They were not paid, but they were offered lunch from the company caterers.
Oscar-winner Kingsley never did put in an appearance. He is not scheduled for shooting until next week, when the company will be elsewhere. And contrary to earlier reports, Bryan Cranston, star of TV’s “Breaking Bad,” is not in the film.