Shooting Tips: Filming Children and Animals on Set

Two young girls shouting with their hands up

Shooting Tips: Filming Children and Animals on Set

Working on the Set with Children and Animals

“Never work with children or animals’ is an age-old film business adage. VMP is lucky enough to have some very talented directors who can make children giggle, cry and perform brilliantly on cue. However, it is a well-known fact that working with children and animals is a perilous and challenging job. We put together a few tips and tricks for filming children and animals that we’ve learnt on the job to help turn little terrors into angels!

Get Your Casting Right

You can usually tell during the casting if a child (or their parent) is going to overbearing or difficult. There’s nothing wrong with having a little diva in you, but it is common sense that if a kid is being difficult before they even get the part, they’re not going to get any better on set. Look for a child with parents who can control and encourage them. They will be your biggest ally.

Same goes for animals, you don’t want an overbearing owner fussing over their pet for the entire shoot. If an animal has an aggressive background or shows ANY signs of aggression when you first meet it, you have a responsibility and duty of care to yourself and your crew to remove it. Animals need to be trained and obedient. Your neighbour Scott’s border collie that chews everything in sight won’t do. Either get a professional animal (yes, there are professional actor animals) with a proven wrangler or at the very least make sure they are trained and obedient.

children on film set

Work Around Their Schedule

Older actors are content to wait on set for their time in the spotlight. Children and animals are not. Kids become bored and restless, and animals can become stressed in a busy, noisy situation. Give children and animals call times as close to shooting as possible to minimise your own stress as well as theirs.

Working with animals and children

One Voice

When filming children and animals, try your best to give them one person who directs and communicates with them. Having a single person to focus on eliminates confusion or frustration. And don’t change your mind! It can be hard wanting to tell the child actor or animal what you want, but respect their parent (or handler or whomever) and relay it through them. One common trap is the mistake of having a director and AD direct kids at the same time, even though they are being told the same thing, the fact that it comes from two different sources can be confusing. Have one voice, and save yourself a lot hassle.

Video production company filming children on set

Keep The Energy Up

This is important for both kids and animals as both can sense when your energy is down or you’re frustrated. This rule makes us feel sorry for all those directors who have to work for 3 months on a children’s movie with 16 kids. But kids, and animals, respond to good energy, make it seem like everything is great and maintain a calm demeanour, even if it’s not.

We hope you enjoyed these few tips for filming children and animals. Working with these two groups can be stressful but also incredibly rewarding. We hope that if you find yourself working with either their children or animals, you find a way to communicate effectively and, that maybe these steps helped you get there. Of course, if you want to call in the professionals, we have producers and directors with years of experience under their belt that kids just seem to love. And the animals don’t seem to think they’re too bad either.


Mon, 03/08/2015 – 12:09pm


VMP is a Brisbane video production house which specialises in many forms of media production.  Our services range from television commercials to promotional videos, corporate videos, online video production, e-learning projects and more (see our recent projects). Delivering quality screen productions for over 20 years, VMP is one of Brisbane’s leading video and film production companies. We are your one-stop shop for corporate video production in Brisbane. For more information, quote or just a chat about how we can deliver your message more effectively, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 07 3324 0900 or send us your enquiries.