broken Birds - Synopsis
After a failed attempt at reviving her music career, Paige Bird stands in a Los Angeles court room, asking for a chapter thirteen discharge. Once a rising star of the music industry, Paige made a name for herself as the prolific songwriter and irreverent front woman of the all-female rock band, “American Thighs”. Her good-looks, unmatched vocals and penchant for stage histrionics set her apart from other female leads and launched a whirlwind rock odyssey, landing her on magazine covers and stages shared with the most iconic musicians of all time.
When Paige left for Los Angeles ten years earlier, friends and family from the rural hamlet of her North Western New Jersey hometown would only see her again on television or from an audience floor.
But a decade later, Paige is living anything but the dream….
Evicted from her beloved home in the Hollywood Hills and with no education or other marketable skills, Paige begins to reassess. Is it possible she could work a minimum wage job without wanting to commit suicide? Laying in bed beside her younger boyfriend Ethan in his Silver Lake apartment, the pair discuss this and the impressive meal she’d made for him the night before. It’s then he reveals that one of his Bikram Yoga students is a producer for the amateur chef’s competition show, “What’s Cooking America?!”, he urges Paige to attend Los Angeles auditions being held the following week. The grand prize is one-hundred-thousand dollars and a scholarship to The Culinary Institute. It's not not music, but it isn’t tie-blouses and panty hose either. Could this be the way out of the financial and existential hole she’s in?
A call from her seven-year-old nephew Zach maps the route back to New Jersey. Excited to announce that his Dad, Paige's younger brother Jesse, has gotten a record deal with his band, "Jesse Bird and Blue Yonder". Zach persists in asking for Paige's attendance at a party being thrown in Jesse's honor during his New York press week. A party hosted by Paige's Mother Lorraine, who is more likely to be relishing in her own success than his. But after eight years Paige is running out of reasonable excuses to decline invitations. The truth that her Mother's alcoholism and loose interpretation of parenting was enough to send and keep Paige running didn't seem like an appropriate explanation for a child. Or the growing distance between she and Jesse since abandoning him when he was ten to chase her dream West. Then there's the small detail of her career's utter annihilation. Perhaps her most closely guarded secret. As far as everyone back home is concerned, she's taking the long hiatus of a spoiled, successful rock star and Paige is more than happy to keep it that way.
Of course Ethan, with all of his eastern philosophy enthusiasm has been urging Paige to stop resisting and say "yes" to life, and in a momentary state of Nirvana, she does. Paige agrees to return home.
But first, she'll audition for the national TV show "What's Cooking America?!".
Auditions lead to call backs which lends enough positive juju to sustain Paige as she heads East for three and a half days of torture. There she comes face to face with old music business contacts, past boyfriends, her Mother's emblematic disproportionate responses and love of boxed wine, as well an epic, scathing row with her brother Jesse where no insult is left un-hurled. Jesse's ego is out of control and no one is safe from it's wrath. Plus he's keeping a secret that perhaps only his best childhood friend and bandmate Alex has the insight to spot. Thank God for Paige's own best childhood friend Gina, who may have chosen a very different life path than Paige by marrying and having children in their hometown, but is still as loyal and quick as ever.
When Paige returns to L.A. to a third and final call back for the show, she's elated. It may have ended ugly with her brother and the relationship with her Mother is unchanged but the first glimmer of light in two years has Paige feeling like she may actually come out the other side. Or so she thinks.
A pre-dawn call from home brings news that no one saw coming. It will send Paige back to New Jersey, and faced with a decision; To sacrifice herself for the common good? Even if that sacrifice is unwanted and will likely go unrecognized? Or go back to her life in L.A.. even if that life is dismantled and uncertain. Because let's face it, Paige has never gone unrecognized for anything. Nor have any of the Bird's for that matter, the unbound family of three black sheep. But perhaps it's time, time to stop day dreaming and giving way to every self-indulgent whim. All signs have pointed that way for years. Maybe adulthood is actually about gracefully yielding to dutiful, silent desperation like so many others have. Relinquishing one's face to the crowd. And why not? What makes her so special anyway?
And one would think that North Western New Jersey with it’s wood and chasm has plenty of places to hide. Within the pine-covered mountain trails haunted by local lore hardships bury deep within the mines. Disappointments easily drown in murky lake waters and the whole rotten world blocked from your rear view by tall fields of golden corn. But this once-described, “Jersey Badass” can’t drift into her self-imposed obscurity just yet, her reputation precedes her.
And only the power of that ghost, can battle the demons that lie in wait…