Make belief

Adri’s thirty-fifth question: The roll of the puppeteer ….

“Working on the dunes is really beautiful. Handling these life-size birds in the wind and sand has been a bit of a nightmare because the feathers get blown and full of sand and it’s an expensive puppet make and maintain. We use the puppets in shots where it is to dangerous or difficult for the actors to work with the real birds. They are wild animals and it’s very easy that someone could get hurt, so it’s very much for the purpose of safety and control. We obviously don’t use them that much because a puppet will still look like an puppet, so it’s just to fill in the gaps. We’ve gotten some great shots so far. There is one scene where the character catches the ostrich and the camera views through its legs, which we used the puppet for because it would be impossible for the camera to get that close to a real ostrich. One can use robots, but it’s very expensive and more than often way more trouble than it’s worth. It’s easier with puppets because you can break them into different parts and just use what you need for a specific shot, whether it be the head or legs or the body. I’ve never worked with ostrich puppets before, so it’s been a fantastic experience for me. It’s been great fun.”

(Picture: Lynton Richards, PUPPETEER)