The Logistics Behind Farm Animal Actors on Set

So, you’ve planned your shoot, storyboarded your scenes, and even decided what farm animal models you want to be part of your set. Fantastic decision! Farm animals make for great actors on an Irish set, as do some of these popular Irish dogs. The next step is a big one – figure out exactly how you can get this done! It’s not always as easy as just ringing up your mate who owns a few sheep and bringing them to your set. To do that, you would have to deal with different movement licenses and housing rules, and be fully insured too. There are other ways that you can include farm animals in your filming schedule that are quicker, more efficient, and, as a result, cheaper. Carry on reading to find out more.  

Where to film farm animal models?

One way to get the best out of your farm animal actors and complete your shoot the quickest is to set up a new set on a farm and film your animals there. If you have spent time and money scouting locations and organising your perfect sets, you may want to bring all actors and props to you for filming. After all, that’s why you have gone through the effort of crafting the perfect sets! Sometimes everything lines up for this to make sense. Especially if you are following a complex brief that relies on the execution of very specific details. However, for the most part, when animals (especially farm animals) are concerned this is often the least practical way to complete your shoot. Even well-socialised and experienced farm animals are used to life on a farm. They perform best and look most natural when in their typical environment. That's why we recommend all of our clients consider setting up a temporary set on-site at their chosen farm. This allows you to quickly arrive on location, get your filming or photography done, and then leave - minimising the contact time with your animal models. You are then free to complete the rest of your brief that doesn’t involve any animals wherever you like!

Checklist for filming animals on a farm

Although filming or photographing farm animals on a farm will require the least amount of bureaucracy to do, you will still have a number of actions that you’ll need to complete before being allowed to shoot. Here are some examples of rules, regulations, and guidelines that you’ll need to consider if you want to film with farm animals.  

Pre-production permissions

You will have plenty of planning to do before you are allowed to shoot on location at a farm. Some checks that you will have to make include:
  • Seeking permission from the landowner and animal handlers
  • Planning for predicted weather conditions while shooting (and preparing for unpredictable weather!)
  • Ensuring all equipment you are bringing with you been qualified as safe
  • Arranging PPE if necessary
  • Ensuring all transport licences are in place and suitable vehicles in order to transport i.e trailers, horse boxes etc

On-site risk assessment

Working with animals always comes with a level of risk. On a farm, these risks may be exacerbated. It’s very important that a full risk assessment has been carried out to keep you, your employees/colleagues, the land owner, and all animals safe. Common risks in risk assessments include:
  • Working around heavy machinery and loud noise – will trained operators be on hand and will exposure to noise be kept to a minimum?
  • The handling of animals – will a handler closely supervise all interactions with animals?
  • Exposure to hazardous substances – will any appropriate PPE be worn?
  • Use of photography/on set equipment – will all cables and lighting be kept to a minimum and used safely so as not to create trip hazards or glare?

Farm animals at Urban Paws Ireland

As you can see, so much goes into getting farm animal actors and models ready for their big day! When you work with us at Urban Paws Ireland, or our sister company Urban Paws UK, we take care of all of this for you. We have partnerships with hundreds of handlers of farm animals that are experienced at working on set. And we guarantee that all animals are well-socialised and properly cared for before, during, and after your shoot. Almost any farm animal you can think of, we can secure for you! Browse our website for some inspiration, and if there are any animals you need that you don’t see then just let us know and we can source them for you. See here for more information on how to find pet influencers on Instagram, and how we can help you do so with our extensive directory of animal talent for hire.