I was just checking my web stats and found this link and thought I’d drop in and say hi and thank you for the kind remarks.
I stopped participating full time on web forums last winter, sort of quit cold turkey, after realizing how addicted I had become, had posted several thousand times, often consuming several hours daily, and worried that it would get worse, and I’d turn into a Gollum figure behind my precious monitor…lol..
Anyway, I’ve been trying to spend my time more constructively this year, and luckily, the bug making business is off to a good start. It all started about a year ago when I was contacted by Paramount Pictures to purchase realistic houseflies for a scene with Brad Pitt in the upcoming movie Benjamin Button. This is when I learned about the filming regulations that disallow the filming of dead animals as props, which includes insects. The regulations are strict enough that recently I had to send 4 scorpions to Puerto Rico where the movie A Perfect Getaway is being filmed, because the star drinks an expensive brand of tequila which contains a dead scorpion at the bottom of the bottle, and they cannot film the bottles until they replace the real scorpions with replicas. A fun project was making bees for the Disney movie Bedtime Stories for a scene where a bee lands on Adam Sandler’s ice cream cone, and he puts it in his mouth. I arrived on the set, being filmed at a gorgeous home in S Pasadena, with my order of bees, and it felt great having the studio folks excited about the bees looking so realistic and detailed. On set they had a very large plastic ice cream cone and a bee about the size of a football, as backup, to be filmed in the same light as the filming of Adam, and if my bee’s were not suitable, they would have filmed the plastic bee and cone, and later using computer imaging, incorporated that setup into the scene frame by frame. I was told that I had just saved the studio about $80k in post production costs. I then suggested that I could make more bees, with an internal 1mm hollow core, which could fly down a wire onto the ice cream, and after being told I was a genius, and asked if could I have the flying bees ready in two days, I drove home with the biggest smile I’d had since my son was born.
Being located in Burbank has certainly been helpful, and when the studio people stop by my house, and see my pickled bug collection, books, and my realistic replica bug display, they know they’ve come to right place. I have learned to rent the bugs for half price, as opposed to selling them, which allows me to continue building inventory. Occasionally the terms change, such as recently when I rented wasps for HBO’s new comedy Little Britain, for a hunting scene, where things didn’t go so well, and wasps are cooked at the ends of the sticks over a campfire, and during filming they decided to shoot a wasp with a shotgun. Apparently they filmed this forty times, close up, before the wasp was completely destroyed. The studio people were thrilled, and so was I. Durability is a key selling point with my bug supply business, the wings are made from a tear proof material, legs are typically made from various size broom bristles, and tails and antennas are made with paint brush fibers. For body materials I often use foam from flooring tiles, cut it into strips with a razor blade, and tye it onto the base, with is often a fishing hook, of copper wire which allows for bending the body after tying is completed, as well as 1mm hollow tubing. I tye everything, fold over the tag end, wrap more thread, and this makes the bugs exceptionally strong, resulting in legs and wings that will not come off unless purposely and forcefully done. Tying also allows for more precise positioning and adjustment of materials than gluing.
I guess I could ramble on and on, but I have to say that I have been greatly inspired by Jason’s bug photography and Gonzo’s book, which is my favorite fly tying resource. BTW, I have only sold two of the realistic hex flies, both sent to Europe weeks before Christmas of 07, but the studios often buy a dozen or two per order, byt haven’t ordered any aquatic insects, yet. A few months ago I sold a solar energy contracting business I founded back in 1985, which has provided a nice cushion while I grow my bug-prop business. Over the years I personally installed solar panels on the roofs of many movie stars, producers, writers, etc, which is helping me to penetrate the entertainment industry. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up, and if all goes as planned, I’ll have a studio in Burbank with a row of Chinese ladies making realistic life-sized bugs.