2013, 40 minutes
In a world where things are different
The Hummingbird Demographic is set in a slightly dystopian world where hummingbirds have grown an addiction to watching television, something people are only too happy to manipulate to their advantage. Mary, Michael and David all work at the television company that holds all the cards. As a corporation they are destroying the innocence of little birds for their own gain but as individuals they are stifled and uncertain of the world and their place in it. So if you want to look at it very bluntly the film is about how everyone is a victim in a capitalist regime but it deals with a lot more than just that. David and his partner Matt are on the verge of a break-up. As Matt watches David passed out after work on the sofa with a hummingbird buzzing by his hand – one eye on the donut he holds limply and the other of the television still quietly flickering away – Matt ponders over the recent dynamic of their relationship. Their fights are petty, little irritations flare up into bigger ones and when Matt thinks back on their small town origins he realises, with a small push from David now regaining consciousness, that they no longer have the oppression of their sexuality in common anymore and without it there isn’t much else. Mary works lower down in the television company in the public information sector. She takes a satirical view of the hummingbird’s predicament and is preparing a proposal to make a public information film on it as an allegory to expose the manipulative nature of her society through the media – deconstructing her own work place. Naturally it won’t work out and she knows it. She whimsically passes it on to her once-friend, now boss, Mark. Meanwhile hinting that she might have secrets of her own – the hummingbird project being a ruse as she avoids tackling the issues that really hit home. Michael is sitting in the waiting room of a hospital waiting to find out if he has testicular cancer or not. As he waits he hears The Beatles ‘Eleanor Rigby’ playing over the hospital radio and remembers at this peculiar moment how much his mother hated Paul McCartney. He begins to recall the decline of his relationship with his mother told through her hatred of Paul McCartney. When David wakes he tells Matt about his dream part of which was based in truth. Matt recalls the end of school when he finally fills a duffel bag with his belongings and runs away from his home and his abusive father. David’s optimism and view of the world seems overly simplistic to him then though now he begrudges David’s changes in perspective. Mark calls Mary into his office and calls her out on her secret. She eats flowers. Flower-eaters are ostracised from society – they frighten people because they are different and the value they hold in nature goes against the consumerism instilled in people from birth. In a harrowing moment Mary recalls a public information film she saw as a child warning her against the dangers of such people – the images have never quite left her. Mark believes in the films and believes Mary’s position at the company, in this light, is inappropriate. Mark is the only person Mary has ever shared this part of herself with so naturally she feels betrayed and frightened as she now, with no work and outed as a flower-eater, will have to embrace an enormous change for herself. Michael recalls the death of his father and the betrayal in his mother’s eyes when he refused to cry at his funeral. Allegorising with Paul he works himself up towards an epiphany that he’s spent his life resenting his mother for misunderstandings and mistakes on both sides. A nurse walks over with the results of his test. There is a silver lining to David’s dream, at the end David and Matt roll into a field of flowers and make love under a clear blue sky as the flowers take flight as hundreds of butterflies or as David puts it ‘flowerflies’. They finally acknowledge the elephant in the room. It isn’t working anymore and they agree to go their separate ways and make love on the wooden floor one last time. In the afterglow Matt sees David’s flowerflies in the air above them. Mary drives into the night and pulls over when the trying emotions of the day become too much. She has spent the film, at intervals, voicing the narrative of the hummingbirds plight as the human’s enslave them for the money to earn their tiny television sets. Once the humans have worked out how to make money from the little birds they don’t stop. When they get too fat watching the television and eating the sugar to fly properly the humans build tiny gyms for them and market low-cal food at them – all of which, naturally, they must pay for. They aren’t happy. Mary completes this narrative in her mind, flicking between that and the story of Little Timmy – the boy in the information films she watched as a child. In her wing mirror she notices a falling light and realises it’s the tiny hummingbird televisions falling from the trees. The hummingbirds reject our idea of society and go back to their happy simple lives. It envigours Mary. She drives on. Mary pulls up the next morning outside a stately home and is taken round back to be met with a wondrous site. A greenhouse the size of a cathedral stands in front of her as a safe haven for people of her kind. As she walks naked into the greenhouse a free hummingbird buzzes past and all is – for a moment – right in the world again.