Sunday, March 1, 2009

Filmmakers Tashai Livington and Robert Lughai on their film "Mad City Chickens," soon to be released worldwide on DVD

On the March 1, 2009 Forward Forum:

Click to Hear Archived Version of this Show

As Madison-based filmmakers Tashai Livington and Robert Lughai describe it, "Mad City Chickens is a sometimes wacky, sometimes serious look at the people who keep urban chickens in their backyards. From chicken experts and authors to a rescued landfill hen or an inexperienced family that decides to take the poultry plunge—and even a mad scientist and giant hen taking to the streets—it’s a humorous and heartfelt trip through the world of backyard chickendom." (Photo credit: still from last year's appearance on WI Public TV's show, "Director's Cut," with Charles Monroe-Kane.)

Tashai has a degree in Film, Photography, and Electronic Media from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Conversely, Robert’s degree is in Psychology, but since childhood, they both have been drawn to good stories and the art of storytelling. Whether the medium be in book form, still images or moving pictures, any project worth doing must have at its core a solid story idea, they say. With advances in digital photography and video technology and the supporting software, telling story through films has become nothing less than blissful for them.

They describe the journey they've taken in a recent interview for See also the review of the film's debut last year at the Wisconsin Film Festival.

"We first learned of the backyard chicken movement in Madison. It was still illegal to have the birds within city limits, but the Isthmus newspaper did an article on what was then referred to as the 'Chicken Underground,' people who broke the law by hiding chickens in their garages and backyards. We attempted to get some names and numbers, but the Isthmus wouldn't give 'em out.

"A year went by and a group of poultry supporters going by the name 'Mad City Chickens' was formed. When the laws were changed allowing four hens (but no roosters) per single family residence, the group's founding members started holding urban chicken 101 classes.

"We met Alicia Rheal and Bryan Whiting through one of these classes and began the interviews with them. They in turn connected us with a number of other Madison chicken owners. It just grew from there to include more chicken folk, artists, breeders, and experts from around the country."

Since "Mad City Chickens" debuted in April 2008 at last year's Wisconsin Film Festival, it has met with critical acclaim at other festivals across North America, and will have its DVD debut in mid to late March 2009. For more information, go to the website of Tarazod films.

Above: the film-makers have great fun with occasional departures from traditional documentary form, including their non-linear narrative style, and a fun-filled "Attack of the Giant Chicken" foray into a fun 1950s style "horror" spoof.

Seen at extreme lower left in the second photo above is Forward Forum co-host Stephanie Woods in a memorable cameo appearance as a "startled sidewalk bystander." Stephanie also provided technical assistance as a grip on the film, and as a still photographer for the production.

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