Getting animals to dazzle on screen is a wild job Uggie the dog starred in the film "The Artist." At left, Jeremy Irvine appears in a scene from "War Horse." (AP photos)
Getting animals to dazzle on screen is a wild job
Lexile

For animal trainers on film sets, the job can be wild. Getting snakes on a plane takes a bit of heat or light, but cajoling a bear to perform for the camera can require buckets of fried chicken.

Casey the bear, seen in "Evan Almighty" and other movies, had that demand written into his contract. KFC was his favorite, and it had to be fresh. Sometimes, on remote locations, it would take a 90-minute drive to get to the nearest fast food outpost, his trainer said.

The story is among those in the book "Animal Stars." It's a look at how trainers get species from badgers to bears to safely do what dazzles. Set for release Sept. 25, the book is co-written by the head of the American Humane Association, whose entertainment unit is the industry's only sanctioned animal welfare program. The book celebrates the unit's 75th anniversary this year.

The group will come on set for a fee to ensure animal safety. If all goes well, it allows the familiar tagline "No animals were harmed in the making of this film" to roll in movie credits.

But for another animal welfare group, the efforts are not enough. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says it opposes the use of live animals in film and TV work. If animals appear on camera, there are ways to make the work more humane, said Kathy Guillermo, a PETA senior vice president.

"A behaviorist would be very helpful, and somebody who can enforce the law should be there, too," she said about film sets. The American Humane Association recently required all of its on-set representatives to be veterinarians.

The book features quotes from actors and directors like Quentin Tarantino. He says animals need an advocate.

"They need somebody saying, 'No, it's too much.' 'They're too tired.' 'It's too scary for them.' 'Something could happen,'" the "Django Unchained" director said in the book. "You can do amazing, eye-popping things. You just need the time to train the animals and get them ready so they don't get hurt."

Trainers like Nicholas Toth also offer their insights. Toth divulged that besides Casey's KFC fix, the bear refused to leave his trailer if it rained.

It's a bit easier for Jules Sylvester, a snake wrangler and herpetologist for nearly 45 years. His 18-foot Burmese python was the star of "Snakes on a Plane." He also provided 450 other snakes.

Snakes can't exactly be trained, he says. So if you want them to move in a certain direction, you work with light, height and heat.

The book features a poignant passage about a monkey on the set of "Night at the Museum" and the late actor Robin Williams.

Williams preferred to spend time between takes with Crystal the monkey, trainer Thomas Gunderson wrote. When the monkey's scenes were finished, Williams and the rest of the cast gave her a big card and a cake.

"Laughter filled the soundstage when I let her dive headfirst into the dessert," Gunderson wrote.

Critical thinking challenge: What do the American Humane Association and PETA disagree opon, and why?

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COMMENTS (46)
  • HistoyRocks
    9/22/2014 - 11:27 a.m.

    They do not want the use of live animals because the animals may be hurt. This could happen because of accidents on the set.

  • oscar f5
    9/22/2014 - 05:20 p.m.

    Animals: Casey the bear, seen in "Evan Almighty" and other movies, had that demand written into his contract. KFC was his favorite, and it had to be fresh. Sometimes, on remote locations, it would take a 90-minute drive to get to the nearest fast food outpost, his trainer said.


    Im with PETA because there just animals and they cant do as much as us and we are making the work in movies? I don't think we should be making animals work on movies or shows I mean they aren't as intelligent or as skilled as us so they really don't know what there doing in the movies but since it was written by someone in the Humane Association there really not doing anything that bad?

  • AutumnN14
    9/22/2014 - 05:40 p.m.

    I have always wondered how people get animals to do certain activities, like without getting off track. I found this very interesting. Also, some of the ideas they do here, could be the ideas they use for animals in movies and other activities that requires training skills. So I am pretty impressed with some of the work they do here! It is very different.

  • calebbeast111
    9/22/2014 - 05:50 p.m.

    This artical is about how to get animals in movies do what they want. For example a bear in movies if you wan them to do something the people and trainer say they usually want fried chicken. The trainer said it takes about 90 minutes to get to the nearest fast food place to get food for the animals. The people making the movies need to make sure that they don't hurt the animals or the people that own the animal will sue them.

  • Hannahi-OBr
    9/22/2014 - 06:26 p.m.

    Why, because maybe the animals that has been seen on TV has never been on TV like this before, and they can be scared for life or something. Maybe they have been on TV. That have disagreed upon the animals. Sometimes here the animal society disagrees on things about the animals. Almost every animal society has disagreed upon a lot and most cleaning up there messes. Everybody has disagreed on everything.

  • Natalies-OBr
    9/22/2014 - 06:28 p.m.

    I think that it's wered to have a bear perform and for bears to be stars. And for animals to be stars some times I think it's cool for animals to be in movies and some times i think it's mean at the same time. Dogs are the most animal

  • CoUrTnEyCC
    9/23/2014 - 12:44 p.m.

    I choose this article to read because I love animals and I read something like this in 3rd grade. I also enjoy watching movies with animals in them like War Horse and Night at the Museum, but like most everyone I want to make sure they're safe and happy.

  • caroline5757
    9/23/2014 - 12:45 p.m.

    I found this article is very interesting because I am a big animal lover. I also agree with the people in this article who try to get the animals to not have to do things they don't want to. It's not fair for them. It made me remember the movie night at the museum.

  • caroline5757
    9/23/2014 - 12:45 p.m.

    I found this article is very interesting because I am a big animal lover. I also agree with the people in this article who try to get the animals to not have to do things they don't want to. It's not fair for them. It made me remember the movie night at the museum.

  • km1999bieber
    9/23/2014 - 01:04 p.m.

    i think the American Humane association disagree and the PETA disagree on how long the animals should be on film for. PETA never stated how long the animals should work until they get too tired and I think they all have different opinions on when they should stop .

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