Based on the best selling novel by Myla Goldberg,
Bee Season tells the story of Eliza Naumann, an average student blessed with
almost supernatural powers of spelling. As the young girl deftly advances
through the regional, state and finally national spelling bee finals, Eliza’s
parents and brother Aaron find their own lives and spiritual beliefs strained by
subtle shifts in their interpersonal relationships.
American Humane’s Role
American Humane’s Film & Television Unit monitored this film. Bee Season
is a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) production, and therefore it was required to
provide American Humane’s Certified Animal Safety Representatives on-set access
whenever animals were used. During pre-production of the film, American Humane’s
Film & TV Unit received a copy of the script and the daily call sheets. American
Humane’s Animal Safety Representatives carefully reviewed these materials to
determine whether any scenes or situations appeared to put animals at risk.
Animal Safety Representatives were then on the set to ensure the animals
remained safe throughout production.
This film met the Guidelines established by American Humane,
received the Monitored Acceptable rating, and was awarded the "No
Animals Were Harmed”® End Credit Disclaimer.
Featured Animal Scenes
Aaron (Max Minghella) sits on the grass in a park when a dog wanders up to greet
him. Owner Chali (Kate Bosworth) catches up to “Tiger” and the dog sits with
them while they chat. Later, Chali connects the leash to her collar and they
walk away. This canine costar actually belonged to director David Siegel, who
cued “Tiger” to perform her simple action.
In one scene, Miriam (Juliette Binoche) peers into the window of a stranger’s
house and startles when a dog inside jumps up and barks at her. This German
shepherd was aggression-trained, which is very similar to the protection phase
of Schutzhund training. To elicit this action, one trainer inside the house cued
the dog to get aggressive, while an assistant wearing protective padded “bite
pants” stood outside the door agitating the dog.
On cue, the inside trainer released the dog, who jumped on the glass door as the
actress looked in. When they cut, the handler outside rewarded the dog by
opening the door and letting the dog attack his leg. Safety precautions included
locking the door during takes and covering the window panels with Plexiglas to
prevent any possible breakage when the dog lunged against the door.
During a scene at the hotel in Washington, D.C., Eliza spells the word “origami”
and a pigeon outside flutters to the windowsill and converts into a folded paper
bird. For the live animal action, the trainer tied a lightweight monofilament
line to the bird’s leg and then positioned it on a blue screen board. In other
takes, the trainer gently tossed the bird into frame and it landed on the board;
special effects added later made it appear the bird had alighted on the