5 Steps to become a Movie Animal Star

Working as a Movie Animal is very demanding. Not every animal is right for this job.  Take these 5 steps to get closer to your goal of a Movie Animal:

  1. Health-Vet-Check

Your animal needs to be healthy and free of any discomfort. A typical day on set is mentally and physically exhausting. Your animal’s health and comfort always have firstpriority. Regular Vet-Check-Ups are mandatory, just as regular grooming, vaccination and vermin prophylaxis.

  1. Comfortable in new environments

Each day on set is different. The possible environments your animal will encounter on a movie set are endless: working in a studio, the busy city, in the woods at night or in a mountain-gondola, always alongside a huge bunch of strangers, glaring light, loud noise, a myriad of strange smell, crazy costumes, hectic set changes, and so much more. There is nothing you can’t see on a Movie Set.

In order for your animal to always feel safe, comfortable and being able to work reliably, he needs a bombproof temperament and a strong positive reinforcement history in various environments.

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  1. Working with strangers

A movie animal not only works with you, the trainer, but needs to be able to work happily and reliably with strangers, too. Some takes may require your animal to work with two or more trainer. Typically a movie animal works with human actors in front of the camera. These may come in a variety of appearances: tall – small, young – old, plump – nimble, kids – men – women, as a single person or in large groups, with beards, helmets or hats. With all of them, your animal needs to work readily and without hesitation.

  1. Training

A movie animal needs to know a lot of tricks, but even more. The actual challenge is to have great stimulus control over a long distance and duration and even without direct eye contact to you, as the trainer. In many takes, there is no way to position yourself, so your animal can see you, you might be crouching behind a prop or your animal actor needs to work away from you, towards a human actor. Your animal should be able to respond not only to your combined cues, but also to just the verbal or just the visual cue.

The daily job of a movie animal consists of numerous repetitions of the same action and long duration stays in various positions – while actors move, talk, scream, work with props, etc.

You can see, how training a movie animal requires a lot of preparation and planning, experience in setting up great training plans, insight in the work on set, great timing, intuition, patience, and knowledge about the needs and moods of your animal.

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  1. Work with a Pro

If after steps 1 through 4 you are certain, your animal would love being a movie animal, get connected with a professional movie animal trainer. Movie animal agencies are always looking for the next hot talent and regularly host castings.

Working with a pro is not only recommended due to the special challenges of working for a movie production: experience, skills and assertiveness. In Germany it is also required by law. In order to work with an animal for a movie production, the trainer needs to be licensed according to § 11 (1) 8. d) Tierschutzgesetz.

When choosing the right movie animal agency, you should be certain, your own, as well as your animal’s wel-being is put first. Diligent pros will prepare you and your animal intensively for each job and will have a competent and experienced trainer with you on set, who will make sure neither you nor your animal will be overtaxed.

Hone your training skills in our Workshops for Animal Trainer

Our partner agency is Renate’s-Film-Tier-Ranch