Shooting with Animals







By Dana Conklin, Senior Producer/Assistant Director, Concepts TV Productions

2011 ERA Moxie Award Winners, Concepts TV Productions, takes a look at what production strategies helped lead to the success of the hit TV Commercial, Emery Cat.

The most important part of Direct Response TV pet commercials is knowing the animals you’re working with! ¬†Just like human actors, make sure your animals are comfortable around people. Some animals like to become familiar with products before hand; while with others you sometimes get the best takes by capturing their initial curiosity. Cats are a bit more difficult than most animals‚Ķthey don’t like leaving their home environment.¬† During the Emery Cat production, Concepts’ DRTV producers decided to shoot using 2 creative approaches. ¬†With multiple days of shooting planned, the first approach was to set a solid shoot date with actors and cats already familiar with the product.¬† We captured all of our important demos, product shots, b-roll, and captured cats that were familiar with the product. ¬†Our second creative approach was to load up and go to local animal shelters in New Jersey where a variety of cats gave us the playful, spontaneous energy and curiosity we needed for the commercial. ¬†By combining both creative directions, Concepts TV Productions produced a hit commercial that has been seen by all.

If you have a large budget and money to burn, hiring professional pet handlers is another great idea for pet commercials.¬† However, they can also come with their own set of problems.¬† While shooting the TV Commercial the Dr’s Book of Home Remedies for pets, we hired a professional pet handler to bring cats to set. They got the job done, but they left an alarming surprise behind ‚Äì FLEAS! One day of shooting led to an infestation of an entire household. That’s one more reason we suggest using family pets when shooting any DRTV Commercial or Infomercial.

When casting for animals – commercial producers need to make sure all actors are comfortable with animals and that the animals are comfortable with the actors. We recommend using actors that own their own animals to ensure a safer shoot. Nice animals are still animals, and can become dangerous when frightened or subjected to strangers.