Filming the Dreaded Chicken Experiment


Will the smell ever go away? That’s how I’m feeling tonight after we filmed the dreaded and forever named chicken experiment. The idea was to visually reveal how the process of decomposition can be slowed down. It all began a few weeks ago when we were still in pre-production in New Zealand. Our amazing fixer, Gabi, was in charge of lining up all the people, locations and props necessary for our shoot in Germany. But when we called her about this request, there was a long pause – two dead chickens? What we set up was to take one dead chicken, put some sand in a bucket, followed by the chicken, then more sand and some water. Cover it and put it outside in the sun. In a second bucket, no sand, no water – just one dead chicken and a mesh cover left out in the sun. Two weeks later, we’ll show up with Phil and the Dino Frey, yes that’s his name, and we will film the results.

Well, as you can imagine, Germany in the summer sun, ooooh it was bad. Plus, who the heck is Gabi going to find willing to do such a thing? The location was in Bavaria, Gabi lives in Berlin. So without pause, she jumped in her car and headed south to find a willing farmer. Eventually and for a fair fee, she found a farmer and together they set it all up. Two weeks later – we showed up. Phil and Dino almost threw up on camera. But the two of them were real pros. They donned their rubber gloves, pushed aside the swarming maggots and prodded, poked and examined both chickens. The best part though was Phil’s reaction to the buried chicken. Even though he really did almost lose his guts, he was genuinely surprised by the results. The chicken had blackened and swelled. The other had collapsed in on itself and was barely recognizable as a chicken. It really gave an excellent idea of how this burial process can be the start of how a fossil is created over millions of years. After we finished with the chickens, it was getting late and tonight is was Phil’s birthday. We’d planned a birthday dinner in his honour but I have to say, tonight was our cheapest meal ever!   

Tune in tonight to Jurassic CSI: In the Flesh 8P et/pt.