We’re happier than a hippo in a mud bath to announce that a segment we created for Nat Geo Wild will be airing as part of their comedy variety special, Wild After Dark this Saturday, June 30th at 8pm PT/ 11pm ET.
The project began when the Tongal creative agency challenged content-makers around the world to come up with “off-the-wall and experimental animal-centric shorts” for National Geographic’s special, Wild After Dark. The timeline was short and the budget was tight, but this was an opportunity we didn’t want to pass up.
Our concept was to shoot a series of true-to-form nature documentaries with dry, David Attenborough-style narration, stunning stock footage, and entertaining yet informative animal factoids. The only difference? The subjects wouldn’t be actual animals, they’d be people in Japanese kigurumi animal costumes.
Tongal and National Geographic were delighted by the concept, and asked us to deliver two three-minute kigurumi sketches in just under four weeks (which also happens to be the average gestation time of platypus eggs.) However in the world of production, this was the equivalent of a cheetah’s top velocity while chasing a gazelle.
We pitched the general concept on a Tuesday, it was approved at 5 PM that Friday, and we turned around the two complete (factually accurate!) scripts for the sketches just three days later.
After the National Geographic research team vetted our content for accuracy (and ensured that any references to lobster urine would be tastefully executed), both pieces were shot in a single production day a week later. Post was complete a mere week after that.
Filming on location at the Old Zoo in Griffith Park and on our soundstage in Glendale, we simulated both the wilds of Kenya’s Great Rift Valley and the bottom of the ocean for our respective skits, traveling to the heart of Africa and the deepest depths of coastal Maine in a single day. Thanks to our talented team of comedic actors in front of the camera and our hardworking crew behind the scenes, everything came together exactly as we dreamed, and we’re thrilled to be able to share the results with the world.
Make sure to tune in Saturday night for a fun (and educational) evening. We’ll have bats, baboons and other adorable fuzzy surprises all on Nat Geo Wild at 8 PM PT / 11 PM ET!
The Arroyos and Foothills Conservancy (AFC) is an organization dedicated to protecting wild land in Southern California in a way that is beneficial for humans and wildlife alike. They often work with camera trappers—citizen scientists who capture candid photos of animals with subject-triggered cameras—to acquire images of local wildlife and compile data about their activities. Descanso Gardens, a Los Angeles botanical museum, will be featuring the work of these camera trappers in their newest exhibit, “Growing Habitat, LA’s Wildlife & Descanso.”
Enter Butcher Bird Studios. AFC contacted us because of our previous work with camera trapper Johanna Turner for the TYLT Untethered: My Passion project. We were brought in to create the video linked above sharing insight into the world of camera trapping and how it benefits organizations like the AFC and society as a whole.
The “Growing Habitat” exhibit will be open to the public May 21st through August 19th at Descanso Gardens. Stop by to see the work of Johanna Turner and Denis Callet and our video about their hard work and artistry. Learn more here.
Reggie Watts and Butcher Bird Studios to Live Stream Fully Improvised Half Hour Episode of a Very Special Crowe’s Nest
GO TO youtube.com/reggiewatts Thursday, May 24th at 9 PM to watch LIVE!
The FAMILY SITCOM is so ingrained in our squeakyclean American cultural landscape that it’s pretty much its own language, replete with its own cadences, internal logic, and chasmal distance from reality. REGGIE WATTS and his team of improvisers have learned to speak sitcom, and aim to cast its hypnotic magic over a waiting online audience in real time… in a live episode of CROWE’S NEST!
On THURSDAY, MAY 24th AT 9 PM Reggie Watts and Butcher Bird Studios will be live-streaming a fully-improvised episode of Watts’ CROWE’S NEST, first featured on his hit Netflix special Spatial. The episode will reunite the original cast: REGGIE WATTS (The Late Late Show with James Corden; Comedy Bang! Bang!), RORY SCOVEL (I Feel Pretty; Those Who Can’t) and KATE BERLANT (High Maintenance; Another Period). It will be executive produced by LUIS REYES and directed by STEVEN CALCOTE.
This will be a 100% improvised show – and the first of its kind in the live streaming domain. No script or dialogue will have been set up beforehand. The cast will arrive a few minutes before the show begins and the rest will be a spontaneous display of improv magic.
There will be a PRE-SHOW starting about 8 PM that will feature the set and the crew getting prepped, during which director CALCOTE and producer REYES, along with other BUTCHER BIRD STUDIOS crew members, will talk through the whole process. And there will be a POST-SHOW directly following the episode that will most likey be just as improvised as the show itself!
CROWE’S NEST will stream through YouTube via Watts’ YouTube page, as well as several other streaming platforms, including SUPER DELUXE, which will also be providing an interactive social media overlay. DIGITAL DOMAIN will also be streaming a VR version live. More details on specific distribution platforms forthcoming.
BUTCHER BIRD STUDIOS will stream the event live from its Glendale studio. Also involved is production designer GARY KORDAN as a set consultant, and ANNA WENGER (Billy on the Street; Brockmire) as a consulting producer
INSIDE THE CROWE’S NEST
REGGIE WATTS is an iconoclastic comedian/musician, who has appeared on Comedy Bang! Bang!, The Late Late Show with James Corden, The Electric Company, as well as countless other television shows and movies. His comedy special Spatial can currently be seen on Netflix. Watts averages over 100,000 social media followers.
RORY SCOVEL is a writer for The Eric Andre Show, as well as an actor on Tru TV’s Those Who Can’t along with many other shows. His comedy special Rory Scovel Tries Standup for the First Time can currently be seen on Netflix. And he also appears alongside Amy Schumer in I Feel Pretty, in theatres now.
KATE BERLANT was celebrated by the New York Times as a “magnetic improvisational comic,” Berlant is an experimental comedian, actor and writer who has appeared in many TV shows including Ghosted, BoJack Horseman, and Transparent. She is also featured in her own episode of Netflix Presents: The Characters.
BUTCHER BIRD STUDIOS – Butcher Bird Studios is a creative media company that has worked in film, television, industrials, commercials and the digital space, for clients such as Boeing, Intel, Viacom, and National Geographic, among many others. One of the studio’s calling cards is its adoption and pioneering of new media technology: Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and, of course, Live Streaming.
ANNA WENGER (Consulting Executive Producer) ran production at Funny or Die for six years. She also served as showrunner on the wildly popular Billy on the Street, along with countless comedy specials and digital series, working with comedians such as Sarah Silverman, Chris Gethard, T.J. Miller, Zach Galifianakis among many others.
LUIS REYES (Executive Producer) has worked extensively in both the live theater world and the screen entertainment world. He’s collaborated to create pilots with comedian Brian Regan, and the creators of The Nanny, among many others. He is also the creator and producer of the popular live stage anthology serial True Crime in Los Angeles.
GARY KORDAN (Consulting Production Designer) is an award-winning production designer who has worked on some of the biggest comedy shows around, including Key and Peele, @Midnight, Workaholics, TV Land’s Teachers, among many others. And Kordan also designed the strange and wonderful set for Reggie Watts’ Netflix special Spatial.
STEVEN CALCOTE (Director) has directed film and commercials all over the world
and is notable for how he incorporates new media technology into his work. Recently he has directed live stream shows for Airbnb, Nat Geo, QuickBooks, and his original narrative live streamed sci-fi series Orbital Redux will launch later this year.
For more information contact LUIS REYES at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For interview requests contact email@example.com
We’re looking back at some of the BUTCHER BIRD STUDIOS highlights of 2017, and one that really pops out is when we worked with director GIL KENAN (Monster House, Poltergeist) and producer VICE COOLER to create a strange virtual reality trip through LA’s iconic indie punk club The Smell, featuring noise rockers NO AGE, punk outfit CLIT KAT, DAVID SCOTT STONE, CELEBRITY CRUSH, and VERBS and ALPHA MC. We were even featured in Vice Magazine.
Executive Producer Kat Urban (TBWA\Chiat\Day) challenged us to take our Facebook Live game to the next level by shooting a project for National Geographic and Airbnb in the field out in Roswell, New Mexico at the International UFO Festival. We also shot a short companion documentary at the same time–just to make sure we never stopped moving!
Hosted by National Geographic Explorer Asher Jay, the live streams presented an insider’s perspective on the unique story of Roswell and its environs. We began at sunrise with an alien diorama behind us, grabbed a behind-the-scenes perspective in the afternoon at an alien costume contest, and then featured Roswell’s UFO parade that night. Along the way, we filmed Asher’s experience throughout Roswell as she sought answers, adventure, and excitement.
Butcher Bird crew included Steven Calcote on direction and streaming tech, Buff Brothers Jason Milligan and Jarrod Wendler on camera, and Todd Steinhauer on sound. Back at BB HQ, Lillian Diaz-Przybyl produced and Adam Fair edited.
While we went in expecting to uncover the secrets of the Roswell aliens, what we found was a wonderful community of positive people united by one of the best kept secrets to living well: the capacity to entertain curiosity. We discovered that a warm, enchanting bunch of curious people might just be more amazing than definitive proof of life in outer space.
Our friend Reggie Watts stopped by the studio in September to create some PSAs about a very serious issue: LIFE. From greek desserts to the principles of America (even the vice-principals) Reggie Watts shows you how to navigate the ups and downs of that roller coaster we all ride. What is the secret to love? What’s the proper way to interpret the “box of chocolates” metaphor? How does one face death? And why is Barbara Streisand crucial to it all? As Reggie reminds us, Life… it just keep happening.
We shot Reggie with two Canon C300 Mark 2’s, one tripod, a shoulder mount, a lav microphone, and no script. We ran around our stage following Reggie and his extemporaneous mind as he filled our space with creativity and wonder. He fiddled with our Russian G suits, spun magic onto our green screens, and unzipped several bags. And we got it all on tape.
Our small crew included Steven Calcote directing, Luis Reyes producing, Lillian Diaz Przybyl and Griffin Davis running sound, and Travis Stevens and Jason Milligan operating cameras. By the end of it, we had 10 PSAs that could help anyone who is stuck in the mud of the mysteries of life.