Amorous Turkey

We shot this in Carmel, California at U. Berkley’s field study site. We’d go into town off and on to visit Clint Eastwood’s Hogs Breath Saloon, which was fun but we never did see Clint.

Photographicly nothing special but the backstory is good fun. The best part of the shoot was trying to film the male gobbling. During pre-production I meet up with a well known Turkey hunter who had authored books on the subject. He taught me how to use the little mouth call and the box call to imitate the sound of hens – this was supposed to get the males all excited and gobbling like crazy. Ah hun- as usual the animals didn’t read the script and after a week of trying fellow cameraman Keith Brust, who was manning his own hide a few meters away, and myself were fed up. We were on walkie talkie ear buds and decided Keith was going to go back to camp for some coffee and I would stay on in the remote chance I could capture the elusive gobble – I should add we wanted to film this at 75fps, a medium high speed which will play back in moderate slow motion. Still at 75fps film and with it money in the form of stock, processing and transfers can pass through the camera gate quite quickly so you want to get it right with a minimum of takes. Hence getting the male to gobble on cue was quite important. Keith made his way quietly out the back of the hide heading for a very well used Toyota pickup they had lent us to use parked on a dirt road a few 100 yards away. I continued to focus on the dominant male with my 500mm. When Keith hit the old trucks starter it made a squealing noise and son of a trout the big turkey let out a gobble! Holding back my urge to shout I whispered over the walkie talkie for Keith to STOP and turn off the engine! He asked just what the heck was I talking about and I explained in hushed tones. I framed up the turkey, cued Keith to hit the starter and stabbed my remote on/off switch – the camera whizzed away, the turkey gobbled his socks off and we went to Hog’s Breath early to toast old Toyota pickups!


One Turkey, two Turkey.



Amorous Turkey from the BBC Battle of the Sexes series
Exec Producer John Sparks
Producer Director Camera: Phil Savoie
Additional Photography: Keith Brust
Editor: Tim Bevan
Super 16: Kodak 7246, 7298
Location: U. Berkley field station, California


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