Are you planning on filming with animals?
Filming with animals is not to be undertaken lightly. Never use a pet. Trained animals are regularly used in greenscreen and studio environments and they have an experience of being around lots of people, noise and lights. They are easier to handle and more cost effective. Non-domesticated animals can be highly unpredictable.
Same goes for the animal handlers. An experienced trainer will be worth his money. They know their animals and are used to film production techniques. Send them specific production information in advance, such as details of the camera position, timings, location info and any other complicated actions that the animals are expected to do.
Listen to their suggestions to handle filming with animals. It could save you both time and money, as well as ensure safety of the animal.
Let your cast, crew and clients on the shoot know beforehand that you would be shooting with animals today. Include in the information a description of the action’s with the animals.
If the shot allows, then use trained personnel as extras and doubles on screen for the handling of animals. If not, then the trainer can wear a green screen suit to be on a green screen set with the animal. But make sure that the trainer doesn’t cover, cross, or block the view of the animal from the camera.
Rehearing with animals again and again, will be a boon on shoot day. Everything would be a smooth sailing. Rehearse with a trainer, the director and the animal. The director will be familiar with the animal by the shoot day and it will make his life a lot easier. (Actors should also be given time to familiarise themselves with the animals in advance).
Think if it’s reasonable for the animal to do? Would you be happy to do that?
When filming with animals, maintain a CLOSED SET. Post ‘CLOSED SET’ notices outside as even small noises can spook an animal and unsettle it.
Any members of the crew who are not essential for the shot must be asked to leave for the duration (even though it may cause hierarchy issues, it will get the job done a lot quicker). Also no petting the animals, since you don’t know how the trainer conducts his business and it could affect the animals behaviour.
Green screen filming with animals
Filming against greenscreen can really be effective in selling your product or service. Often you would find some happy mistakes and unexpected takes which really make the piece come alive. The unpredictable nature and random behaviour of animals have great results. Just make sure to follow these rules so that it doesn’t turn into a living nightmare.
Always ensure the safety and well being of the animal. Don’t rush to get the job done, enjoy the opportunity!