Photo By Spencer Tulis/Finger Lakes Times
Fnger Lakes Times
Embarking on a journey to find the tastiest Buffalo chicken wing may sound delicious to wing fans.However, even the most devoted wing connoisseurs might struggle with the journey Matt Reynolds took.
Reynolds, a Lyons graduate, shot “The Great Chicken Wing Hunt” to document a journey he and a small team of other “hunters” took in search of just such a culinary delight, hitting 70 New York restaurants in 16 days. Much of the film was shot in the Finger Lakes area, with some local restaurants vying for the title.
A Kickstarter event begins today to fundraise for final editing touches, with a screening planned for the Smith Opera House Saturday at 5 p.m. A reception from 2 to 4 p.m. will offer wing fans a chance to meet the team and taste wings from winning chefs.
The inspiration for his film came to Reynolds in Poland, where he was writing for Reuters.
“I was making chicken wings a lot for my friends from Poland and Slovakia. One night we had an idea that we should go back to the U.S. and have a wing tour,” said Reynolds. “It just kind of evolved into a mission to find the world’s best buffalo chicken wings.”
Reynolds quit his journalism job in 2007 to travel home and shoot the documentary.
While the film includes laughter and stomach aches, there also are more philosophical undercurrents, he said.
The hunt for a perfect wing led to a bigger metaphysical question: Does perfection really exist?
“It plays with the idea of treating that as a serious question, even though it’s really absurd. There’s irony there,” he confessed.
To him, though, tackling that question in a more serious context, such as the search for the perfect bottle of wine, would seem a bit boring.
The general silliness of a chicken wing hunt, he explained, allowed him “permission to act silly to try to answer the question.”
Other elements to the film include Reynolds rediscovering his Upstate roots, with themes and footage that many here likely will relate to.
“There aren’t enough stories about people from not just Upstate New York, but really anywhere away from the coasts,” said Reynolds. “I think that those stores are worth telling.”
Those that do deal with rural, conservative areas often do so in a one-dimensional way, he said.
The filmmaking process itself had its ups and downs.
“It really became this kind of traveling circus,” Reynolds said. “We met all these really, really strange and interesting characters along the way.”
Eating so many wings was, in fact, “kind of grueling,” he confessed. His “hunters” especially suffered — slaves to his tight schedule, Reynolds said.
With about six to 10 wings a stop, several stops a day, no exercise, cramped quarters and a lot of driving, even the more wing-loving team members faltered along the way.
In addition to culinary exploits and metaphysical questions, the film also has a romantic subplot.
That, Reynolds explained, follows the story between him and his Czech girlfriend, Lucie Mayerova.
But while “The Great Chicken Wing Hunt” may deal with an array of engaging themes, finding funding for such a documentary is tricky, according to Reynolds.
Most documentaries are supported by foundations and wealthy donors who believe in the subject matter, he said.
“It’s very hard for a documentary like ours that’s based on entertainment value to get funding,” he said — thus their efforts to raise money. They hope to raise $13,000 in donations from the Kickstarter.
Kickstarter donors can earn prizes such as special edition DVD of the film, gift certificates, phone cooking support from wing experts seen in the film and memorabilia from the film.
GREAT CHICKEN WING HUNT trailer from Matt Reynolds on Vimeo.