Thursday, March 1, 2012

Is your pet the next big star?

It seems there have been numerous movies over the past few years that feature pets. A good pet movie is fun to watch. We are often amazed at how talented the animal is. Perhaps you've looked at your pet and said, "Fido, (or insert your own pets name) you can do all that stuff. Why aren't you an actor?"

Want your dog to be the next Lassie? We've done a little research and found the basics your dog would need to get into acting, whether it be a movie, television show, commercial, or print advertisement.

First and foremost your pet must be well trained in basic obedience skills. These are things like sit, down, stand, stay, come. Most importantly they must be able to perform these while "off-leash", from a distance, and amid distractions. You can imagine how chaotic it can be on a movie set. The director would not be too happy if they had to keep reshooting a scene because your pet was easily distracted or wasn't used to being given direction from several yards away.

A good foundation for these skills can be learned through training provided by organizatione like the American Kennel Club. They have a class called Canine Good Citizenship. Successful completion gives your pet a CGC certification. It is also highly recommended that your pet take additional classes, or receive extensive training to learn additional skills beyond the basics. The more your pet can do, the better your chances of finding an acting job.

Secondly, you should contact a talent agency that works with animals. Unless your neighbor is a film director or the head of an ad agency, finding work for your pet on your own will be very difficult. Leave it to the professionals to represent your dog and find the right opportunity.

Thirdly, patience. You may think you have the cutest dog in the world but that doesn't mean he or she is a shoe-in for an acting role. The expression "it's a dog eat dog world" fittingly applies to the competitive nature of the animal acting business. There is good news though. Often in movies several dogs are hired to play the role of one character. This allows the production crew more flexibility because it is often difficult to find one dog that has all the skills the movie requires, plus using more than one animal makes it easier on the pet as it isn't required to perform in every scene the character is in.

Another fortunate aspect of animal acting is that there usually isn't any specific breed used. As long as your dog has "The Look", it doesn't matter if it is a pure-bred or a mutt. Labs, Golden Retrievers, Chihuahuas, Jack Russell Terriers and Bulldogs have always been popular breeds but there are still plenty of movies, tv shows, commercials, and advertising that use others. Just hang in there. Persistance pays off.

One concern you may have is how safe your pet will be while "on set". Anytime an animal is involved in any kind of production a representative from The American Humane Association Film & Television Unit is there to ensure the safety of the animals.

So if a future in acting is what you see for your pet we wish you all the best. We hope the information we've provided will get you started on the path to fame for your pet.