Pets and animals have been a part of films and TV shows for decades. Their presence in our culture is so integrated that we often take them for granted. But what we often don’t realize is just how incredibly vital they can be to a successful story. The impact of these furry, feathered, or scaly characters is often overlooked, so let’s take a look at the role these animals play in film and TV and explore how their involvement can bolster a script.
1. What Is The Role Of Pets & Animals In Film & TV?
From the most iconic Hollywood classics to the slew of modern film and television productions, pets and animals have been featured with increasing regularity and prominence in films and television shows. And it is not difficult to see why. Whether they are the protagonists, sidekicks, antagonists, or mascots, our furry friends bring emotion, humor, drama, suspense, and endearing moments to the stories we follow.
Animals have been an integral part of storytelling since ancient times, when a variety of mythical creatures like dragons, griffins, and unicorns featured heavily in folklore stories. If we look at more recent literature and art, animals continue to be an important plot device. While some of their roles are subtle and often overlooked, they can be some of the most powerful drivers of a story’s impact.
- Create Narrative Balance: Animals can help create a balance of stories between humans and non-humans, and provide an understanding of humans from another point of view. They can provide an interesting dynamic between characters that adds a layer of drama, tension, and even comic relief to the story.
- Uplift Emotional Resonance: Pets and animals have become an increasingly vital part of modern cinema and scripted television – they are often cited as one of the main reasons why people enjoy watching these kinds of shows.
- Develop Themes: Animals can reflect feelings of love and empathy, and be the key to introducing and developing themes, such as loyalty, courage, and friendship. This helps to create a richer, more meaningful story by exploring these themes in a more tangible way.
- Establish Story Setting: Animals can also be used to help establish the setting and mood of a story, and make it more realistic and authentic. This can be especially helpful in productions set long ago or far away, providing a sense of realism to historical dramas and fantasy epics alike.
With the ability to create narrative balance, lift emotional resonance, develop themes, and establish story settings, pets and animals are an integral part of film and television production and storytelling. They bring a unique and powerful element to the stories they are involved in, and help to create interesting, captivating, and memorable experiences for audiences around the world.
2. Exploring The Power of Animals on Audiences
Animals have the remarkable ability to evoke emotions from their audiences, be it a laugh or a tear. From warm and fuzzy to laugh out loud funny, animals regularly play a crucial role in the production of films and television programs. While most productions have a story at the center, animals offer viewers and filmmakers a unique resource when it comes to breathing life and motion into a story.
Roles and Representations
Animals are often used to represent real or imagined creatures within a narrative or to represent the emotions or conflicts of a character. The 1993 blockbuster movie Jurassic Park serves as an excellent example. Animatronic dinosaurs and visual effects helped bring to life these discontinued species in spectacular ways. The use of these creatures allowed audiences to believe in the fantastic world that was being brought to life and made the iconic movie a classic.
In E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, the alien is represented by a mechanical feature, but one of the film’s strongest elements is one of its most unlikely: a stuffed animal. E.T.’s stuffed animal, adopted by the children in the movie, serves many roles, becoming an unseen part of the family, a best friend, and a symbol for E.T. and the children’s love for each other.
The Role of Pets
Pets are living beings, and thus they play a much different role in the production of films and television. They lend a unique authenticity to the production, evoke genuine emotion, and can be used in a variety of ways. In Marley & Me (2008), the relationship between Marley the dog and his owner, John, forms the heart and soul of the movie.
Pets and animals, along with their novels roles in films and TV allow viewers to develop an emotional connection with the characters and story. This connection between the production and audience is the cornerstone of any film or TV program. The power of animals and pets in these productions is undeniable and continues to be a crucial tool for directors, writers, and producers.
3. Examining Realistic Animal Performances On Screen
Leaning into the Anthropomorphism & Relevance: Animals have often been utilized in film and television, often as pivotal character in it. The potential benefit for a film-maker when leveraging a realistic animal is rooted in the audience’s inherent opinions, experiences, and feelings when interacting with the pet or animal. This quality, often referred to as anthropomorphism, provides viewers with an easier way to relate to a particular character or narrative, making more diverse stories possible to tell. Beyond leaning into anthropomorphism, this also has relevance to the realism of a story and how a realistic animal’s presence can heighten it.
Exploring the Use of Realistic Animals on Screen: From the iconic horses in ‘The Godfather’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ to the more subtly featured cats in J.K. Rowling’s ‘Fantastic Beasts’, realistic animals often can be found on our screens. This has the potential of making a scene or narrative more impactful and highly engaging, giving sites like Netflix even more grounds to feel the success of their shows. Additionally, television series like ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘The Walking Dead’ have benefitted from the use of animals, further emphasizing their messages and characters.
Recognizing the Roles & Underlying Numbers: In many cases, more than just one animal is used in production, depending on the nature of the task required. The presence of a few, a few dozen, or potentially even a few hundred animals can make or break the production in some cases. That’s why these shows and films often consult industry professionals and certified animal trainers to look over the appropriateness of a particular animal or environment. In fact, a Bloomberg study recently showed that over 28 million animals were used in film production in 2021 alone, over 5 million of those being dogs.
Understanding the Strict Regulations & Protocols: Most governments, including those within the United States, put strict laws and regulations in place to ensure that these animals are properly taken care of during and after the production process. From providing them with adequate living expenses to daily checkups from certified veterinarians, all of these measures are taken into account and become of utmost importance when exploring the use of realistic animals on-screen. As such, studios and production companies are held accountable to follow the process and those responsible can face drastic consequences for misconduct or negligence.
Final Thoughts: All in all, animals in film and television production often make key contributions to the story they’re a part of, playing a valuable role in affecting the narrative and tone. As such, they must be taken into account and respected, from their well-being to their health. Without them, films and shows would be incomplete and so much more difficult to produce.
- Animals are the lifeblood of many films and television series
- They can either make or break the production process
- Anthropomorphism allows viewers to relate to a particular character or narrative more easily
- Strict regulations and protocols are in place to ensure the health and safety of the animals
- Production companies are held accountable to follow the process and those responsible can face drastic consequences for misconduct or negligence
4. Understanding The Importance of Animal Safety in Film & TV
Animals and pets have become a major part of film and TV production due to the positive impact they can have on the story, character interactions, and audience engagement. However, it’s important to understand the importance of animal safety in the process. We’ll be exploring what goes into making sure animals are treated properly while on set and the impact they can have on the story when used correctly.
- Making sure animal safety is a priority: Ensuring animals are comfortable and well treated in the filming process is essential. This includes making sure they have adequate food, water, space, and exercise. Proper veterinary care is also a must, as well as training for any stunts or special effects.
- Wrangling and handling: The correct handling of animals is crucial for both safety and performance. This task is usually done by experienced animal wranglers who need to be aware of any potential risks during the shoot. This is particularly important with filming scenes that involve a lot of people or dangerous stunts.
- The emotional connection: Animals can play an important role in creating an emotional connection between the characters and the audience. In some cases, they can also be used to create suspense or tension. It’s important to consider how the story can benefit from the presence of animals and how they can help bring the characters to life.
- The effects of on-set accidents: Unfortunately, accidents can happen on set, and they can have severe consequences. This is why it’s essential to take all the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of the animals and to provide them with proper care if anything does go wrong.
Animals and pets can be an invaluable asset to any film or TV production and while they add a sense of realism and emotion, it’s important to remember the importance of animal safety. By understanding the challenges and potential risks associated with animal handling and making sure the animals are well taken care of, you can ensure the production runs smoothly and the animals are well looked after.
5. Considering The Impact Of Animal Rights in Production & Content
The rise of mixed media content has opened doors for deeper exploration into the role of animals and pets in films, TV and other videos. Whether it’s a production involving real animals, or simply CGI or animation, animals play a crucial role in the production, both reverently and irreverently. But amidst all this, animal rights must not be forgotten, to keep these animals safe and free from harm.
- Respectful treatment: Animals are vulnerable. They must be handled with care, especially on a production set. It is important that their treatment respects their stress levels and wellbeing, and that every member associated with the production takes extra precautions to ensure this.
- Controlled environments: Animals should not be forced to remain in locations that do not suit their needs. Environments must be suitable for their safety and comfort, or one must forego the animal’s inclusion in the production.
- Budgetary restrictions: It is essential that budgetary restrictions don’t compromise the animal’s safety. Any risks associated with such a compromise may lead to unfortunate consequences and financials losses.
- Breeding and training: Consider the breeding and training methods used when working with animals, and never sacrifice their well being for a spot of recognition.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that animals have been a part of film, television and other productions for as long as it has been around. Whether it’s something as dramatic and wild as a horse galloping on the open plains or a more domestic dog begging for a treat, animals offer something to producers and viewers that’s oftentimes irreplaceable. It’s important to consider the impact on animal rights when creating these productions and content, so that the lives of these animals can be distinguished from the art they create on screen.
6. Evaluating The Influence of CGI Animals on Audiences
From talking animals in The Neverending Story to the fire Buffalo in Avatar, animals and other imaginative, digitally-created creature have long been part of movie and television’s greatest hits. The use of computer-generated imagery has allowed filmmakers to take their pet and animal storylines to never before seen realistic heights, with lots of realistic details. While these CGI animals often exist to be cute, serve as sidekicks and play the occasional comic role, they also often have a more powerful, lasting influence on audiences. Let’s explore a few of these influences.
- Tapping into Emotions: With advanced CGI technology, digital animals have a special ability to capture an audience’s emotions, often better than live action creatures. Because they can be crafted to almost any size and appearance, computer-generated animals make it easy for directors to bring stories to life in an emotionally engaging way.
- Stimulating Kids’ Imaginations: Studies have shown that kids often have a powerful connection with animals in films. This connection can help kids open up their imaginations, dive into the world of movie-making and give them a greater understanding of the characters and plot points. By harnessing the influence of CGI pets and animals, filmmakers can tap into this power to create memorable stories.
- Giving Viewers Something To Care About: Even when they’re not the main characters in a story, computer-generated animals can still be important by providing a character or storyline viewers can care about and root for. Particularly in fantasy and science fiction films, CGI animals add a depth to the story that would otherwise be missing.
Computer-generated imagery has allowed filmmakers to tell stories with greater sophistication, using animals to shape the viewer’s experience. Through CGI, filmmakers are able to evoke real emotions from audiences, stimulate children’s imaginations, and give viewers something to care about. With these impressive capabilities, it’s no wonder why we’re seeing more and more CGI animals in films and TV.
7. Exploring The Power Of Animals In Storytelling
1. Pets: A Symbol of Loyalty & Love
Pets have become an integral part of storytelling in film and TV, being used to represent different aspects of human nature. From simple loyal companions to idealized models of love and friendship, pets have a great impact on stories and the emotions they evoke in audiences. Movie franchises such as Harry Potter and Marley & Me have used animals to emphasize plot points and themes, leaving audience with powerful imagery.
2. Animals As Characters
Animals can also be used as characters in a movie or TV show, used to explore aspects of human life in a fresh and compelling way. For example, the film Babe was a huge success due to its use of animals in a situation that was normally set in a human context. The film was used to explore ideas of bravery, loyalty, courage and love, all seen through the eyes of a small pig.
3. Wild Animals & Their Implied Meanings
Wild animals can also be used in story telling, powerful creatures that have become symbols of strength and power throughout history. Whether used to add a sense of awe and danger to a scene or to emphasize a character’s sense of control over nature – as in films such as Jurassic Park, The Lion King and Life of Pi – wild animals have a great influence on audience emotions.
4. Pets & Animals In Narrative
The use of pets and animals in film and TV isn’t just about creating dreamy scenes of loyalty and love. They can also be used to move a story forward, giving characters goals and initiating narrative progress. Think of movies such as Lassie or Homeward Bound, where animals were essential to the central plot device.
5. Using Animals For Social Commentary
Animals are also used in film and TV to provide social comment. Movies like Babe and Charlotte’s Web have been used to discuss themes of prejudice and intolerance. Wild animals are also used to show aspects of human life, often commenting on our relationship with nature and our own existence.
6. The Power Of Using Animals In Narrative
The use of animals in storytelling is an invaluable tool. They bring a unique perspective to stories, often creating powerful and memorable scenes and moments. With their ability to convey strong emotions, pets and animals can be used to great effect in film and TV, leaving audiences with a lasting impression.
8. Making Recommendations To Maximize Animal Impact In Entertainment
Animals have been long esteemed as pivotal characters in film and TV. They can act as engaging sidekicks, stalwart heroes, comic relief, and invaluable educators. Everyone from cats and dogs to horses and even lemurs have played an illustrious role in bringing stories home. But utilizing animals in an Indusry like entertainment can evoke powerful emotions and can affect the way viewers think or feel regarding them –– ultimately serving to increase pubic knowledge and awareness.
1. Responsible Pet Care & Management
- Following the recommended guidelines from humane societies when using pets and animal in productions
- Ensuring that animal welfare is at the forefront of the production process and financial resources are allocated accordingly
- Adapting filming techniques to the animal’s comfort level
- Implementing work practices that comply with laws and regulations regarding animal right, safety, and care
2. Understanding & Representing Animals in Entertainment
- Educating cast and crew on appropriate animal behavior
- Ensuring that animal performances match their natural instincts
- Using computer-generated imagery (CGI) to realistically depict animal behavior
- Conducting research to understand how different species interact with one another and their environments
3. Casting Animals in Appropriate Roles
- Considering the animal’s temperament and natural abilities.
- Selecting animal actors that are comfortable in their roles and fit the script
- Vetting animal actors that possess desired characteristics
- Differentiating animal characters in order to better reflect the natural diversity within their species
4. Empowering Our Audience to Create Positive Change
- Establishing an ethical framework for decision making.
- Encouraging individuality and self expression through animal representation
- Showcasing the unique interactions between humans and animals
- Depicting animals in a respectful way that honors their beauty and complexity
- Encouraging empathy and connection with our natural world
By establishing certain guidelines and adhering to these standards, both animals and humans can enjoy positive impacts in the entertainment industry. As filmmakers, writers and actors working with pets and animals, it’s important to approach each production with an ethical and responsible outlook in order to make sure animals are respected, treasured, and utilized in ways to maximize their positive effects. All in all, it is clear that animals and pets have a significant role to play in films and TV. Whether it’s inspiring viewers to show compassion towards others, providing a visual and symbolic representation of a character’s physical and emotional journey, or simply adding a bit of lightheartedness to a scene, animals and pets are essential elements of film and television that are often underrated. Movies and television shows are a great way to facilitate awareness and education for pet-related issues. We may never be able to fully give thanks to our four-legged friends for all that they have done throughout the years, on both big and small screens.