The Director Of My Cousin Vinny Nailed That Owl Shot In One Take

Having been pushed to his breaking point, Vinny, now staying in a cabin similar to the creepy abode from “The Evil Dead,” loads a pistol and fires aimlessly into the black of night. The owl continues to screech, which prompts him and his fiancée Lisa to sleep in their car somewhere else instead. According to Lynn, that shot of Vinny and the owl was incredibly difficult to set up.

Working with animals on a film set comes with its own set of challenges, especially if you need them to have perfect timing. Lynn had prepared the owl for the sounds of gunshots (via The Director’s Cut) in addition to tying some string around its ankle. But how did they make it screech on command? Turns out all you need is some meat and a little patience, as Lynn explains:

“I noticed that the wrangler gave him little bits of meat, and every time that happened, the owl opened his mouth, took the meat, closed his beak, and as he swallowed the meat, his beak opened. So I thought, ‘Well, we’ll put a screech on there [in post-production].’ So I set up the shot, and the camera was going to track along the branch and come to the owl, and just before the camera picked up the owl, he was going to get a little piece of meat. Right before the camera got there, he opened his beak and screeched … so then Joe [Pesci] came bursting out behind the owl, and we [rack] focused … we saw Joe come out with the gun, and by amazing good fortune, the owl turned to look. So I held my breath, and he looked at Joe until Joe went back into the house, and then the owl turned back to us and screeched.”

“We just had one take, of course,” Lynn explained, recalling the suspenseful process of waiting on pins and needles to see if the shot would be usable. “I spent the next 24 hours praying that the lab didn’t scratch the film. Because I knew we would never get that shot again.”

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