No Animals Were Harmed – All About Animal Actors

Animal Activists: Interview with Sandi Buck, American Humane Accredited Animal Safety Representative

Q: What is the American Humane Film & TV Unit?

A: American Humane (AH) Film & TV Unit is based within Los Angeles and we monitor the use of animals in media. American Humane is a national organisation with its headquarters in Denver, Colorado. My name is among those Certified Animal Safety Representatives who go on set and monitor the usage of animals in films and television. We offer an “No Animals Were Harmed(r) in the Making of this Movie” declaration at the bottom of the credits in a movie.

Q: When began start the American Film & TV Unit start?

A: Back in 1926, AH set up a committee to examine the abuse of animals in the film industry. In the past horses were among the most vulnerable animal actors. However, at the time, like now, animals have no inherent legal rights, so it was impossible to ensure the safety of the animals that were performing. In 1939, in the movie “Jesse James,” a horse and rider were taken to the ground and thrown off a 70-foot cliff into a raging river for an action scene.

The stuntman was fine, but the horse’s back was fractured in the fall and it passed away. Incredulity over this led to an alliance between AH as well as some motion picture directors and producers and caused that the Hays Office to include humane treatment of animals in the Motion Picture Code. Visit:-

In the following year, AH got authorization to monitor the production of movies which used animals. The set was ours for quite some time following that until that the Hays Office was disbanded in 1966, which ended our jurisdiction and excluding us from sets.

It was a difficult time for animal actors who were being employed in violent ways. Then, in the beginning of the 1980s, another incident triggered another public outcry . American Humane was added to the agreement with SAG which mandated that union films contact us if they were making use of animals. The agreement now encompasses all forms of filming that includes commercials, television, direct-to-video projects, and music videos. More information about the history of the agreement is at our site. Right now, we monitor about 900 films per year, maybe more. That’s not counting commercials.

Q: Did you say animal actors do not are legally entitled to any rights?

A: That’s correct. Animals don’t have “legal” rights in the sense that humans do. But , because of the SAG agreement, the animal actors in SAG films enjoy “contractual” rights because the AH office is required to be contacted by productions that use animals, and an AH Film & Television Unit representative be on set during the filming.

Q: What are the implications of nonunion productions?

A The productions that are nonunion are not legally bound to reach us, but we’ve noticed that many would like us to be there. I’ve worked with a variety of productions who say”We’re looking for you. “We want you here. We want that rating at the end of our film and we want people to know what we had you on set.”

Q: So people on set are happy to be there?

A: Generally yes, however, there are times when it isn’t. Actors love to see us on set. They gaze at the AH patches on my jacket and walk at me every time while on set, saying – “Oh, you’re here for the animals. That’s so great, I’m so happy you’re here.” This is exactly what we’re looking for. We hope that people will look for us, and to know that we’re here, and to know why we’re there. In terms of production, it depends on what they think of us and if they’ve had a relationship with us in the past. The people we’ve worked with previously are awestruck by our presence. Some who haven’t worked previously with us may think “oh, no, here comes the animal police to patrol us,” like I’m standing there holding my arms around my waist and tell them what they should and cannot do. We’re not doing that. We’re not here to make a fuss about. We’re here to collaborate with filmmakers rather than against them. If we spot a problem we’ll take it up with the filmmaker and solve it together. In Florida For instance one of the main problems is the heat. In one particular production the producer requested a dog to walk between two spots on the pavement. I informed the director that there was a problem. I was aware that he would not enjoy having me on the set, but I told him nevertheless, “You take off your shoes and walk across that street.” He went out to the street, placed his hand on the sidewalk and said – “Yeah, you’re right.” He was not trying to hurt the animal, he just was not thinking about the animal, the heat as well as the road. That’s one of the reasons we’re in the set. We don’t expect filmmakers to also be experts in animal welfare. Even those who don’t personally care about animals usually realize it’s logical to include us in their films. A lot of people will not see a movie if they believe or know that an animal was injured or killed. People look for the AH disclaimer at the conclusion of the films saying that “No Animals Were Harmed(r) in the Making of this Film.”

Q: How do filmmakers receive a “No Harm” disclaimer for their films?

1. The procedure begins when the production calls the Los Angeles office to let us know they intend to employ animals. We direct the production to follow our Guidelines which can be found on the internet and we demand their script. We read the script and make arrangements to come in and monitor the animals’ actions to make sure that the environment in which the animals are kept is safe and comfortable. The union doesn’t have to pay the production anything – that’s part of our arrangement in The SAG office.

Q: What is the policy for nonunion productions? Can they get this “No Animals were Harmed(r)” Disclaimer?

A: The process to get the disclaimer is similar, except that it’s a 30-minute charge for the time we’re on set. The time we put into the pre-production evaluation of scripts and filming the films and writing reviews is included in the $30 an hour set-up fee.

Q: Can students or independent filmmakers obtain your disclaimer?

A: Yes, provided that they are in compliance with the rules for it. If they have any questions all they need to do is call the LA office and inquire. The LA office is ready to assist young and budding filmmakers by offering guidance and guidance regarding the safe use of animals within their movies. If they’re writing their script, they can contact us to inquire if specific scenes are feasible and for guidance on how to create the scenes and action they desire. Productions who can’t get an AH representative on location because of costs or scheduling conflicts can record what they plan to do as well as documenting the filming of the animal’s actions with a little video, a behind the scenes – this is how we handled it – and send it in. We look over it and, although it’s not possible to prove that we actually were there We can state that by our analysis we can say that the production complied with the Guidelines. The score is “Not Monitored: Production Compliant.”

Question: What is the number ratings are there?

Q: We’ve got many ratings that vary from our highest “Monitored: Outstanding” and getting the “No Animals were Harmed”(r) disclaimer that appears in the closing credits of the film and down to “Not Monitored,” to our lowest rating , which is “Monitored Unacceptable” – where our standards and safety for animals were disregarded and or negligence caused the accident or death of the animal. Making sure that we get a high score will ensure that the production is successful. If a production is just half completed and an animal that is crucial to the production gets spooked and gets loose or hurt, it’s as if losing a leading human actor. What can the producer do? Re-shoot scenes of animals with another animal actor? Write a new script? Make the film a new one? Professional trainers own a variety of dogs with various talents that are alike. One’s a really good barking dog, another is extremely good at jumping, another does something else. This is helpful in the event that one dog is injured or sick and the filming will not stop. Many of the most dangerous scenarios can be avoided with making plans. I keep an eye out for possible problems and to keep everything as safe as possible for everyone. There are always risks There is no way to prevent that. That happens in life. You can work to keep things as secure as possible, but accidents can happen. We understand that. The main point is that any time filmmakers plan to use animals, or even their own pets, they need to contact the LA office.

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