Never work with animals (especially your own!): Documentary Filming

Over the Christmas holidays, I attempted to obtain some footage of my dogs Jack, JJ and Millie for my documentary. As my documentary is about the abuse and abandonment of animals especially around Christmas, the idea was that I would use them as a positive example of how pets should be treated. However, not everything went to plan. Initially, it took a while to get them to stay in the room and not be afraid of the camera and once they were used to that, things seemed to be going ok….but not for long. Not only did I have to dodge balls of fur flying at me as they ripped open their little presents, I also had to try and get some decent shots whilst not getting in the way of my mother who was trying to prepare the Christmas dinner and organise everything. Filming on Christmas day certainly wasn’t as much fun as I had anticipated it to be! After I finally managed to film Jack getting involved with Christmas, sitting at the table in a Christmas hat I decided that that was probably enough for one day.

A couple of days later, there was an attempt to get the dogs bathed and clean before people came round which I thought would also be a great opportunity to show how well ours are looked after. Again, this didn’t go as well as I imagined. JJ in particular looked more sad than happy and then ran around so fast it was a real struggle to keep up with him! Looking back at the footage, it became clear to me that the only way I could film them really enjoying themselves would be to walk them so we took them to the field for a run about. Big mistake. They all got so covered in mud they had to be bathed again but at least I managed to film them having fun.

Another highlight of this filming was definitely the dog choir that arose when a signing Santa Claus was placed in front of them. To begin with, JJ just stood and barked continuously at it but Jack soon joined in, howling like a miniature wolf. After a while, Millie also joined in until it was absolutely chaotic! This went on for ages and ages and I managed to get some pretty good shots of it all which should look good in the documentary. Jack also did his best to help, standing on my back as I tried to film an over-the-shoulder shot of Santa and howling.

Although it was a bit trying at times, filming my dogs was quite an experience. I learnt a lot about filming with pets and all the issues surrounding that (especially health and safety with dogs leaping about around the equipment!) What I can say is this; the phrase ‘Never work with animals or children’ is not necessarily true but working with your own animals…well that’s a completely different tail!


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