Pre-Production: Planning for Animals

A script that calls for animals will require some extra work in pre-production. Animals and children are two of the most challenging types of actors to work with.

Step 1: Training

Your animal needs to be well trained. Do not merely use someone's pet even if all it has to do is sit in one spot. With all the people and activities that make up a film set, the untrained animal will react completely unpredictably. You will waste a lot of time trying to wrangle the creature and will end up sacrificing shots. Spend the extra money to hire a trained animal with its trainer.

Step 2: Scheduling

Even with an experienced animal performer, you should plan to spend some extra time on these set ups. Animals do not take direction as well as humans do. Getting the perfect performance will take a few more takes than usual.

Step 3: Crew Demeanor

Trained animals will still react to the many people on set. Advise your crew beforehand to keep the commotion to a minimum when the animal is around. Though many will be tempted to pet the creature, they should avoid forming a relationship that will confuse the animal during a take.

Animals are tough to work with, but with some forward thinking, you can achieve great results.

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