Readers respond: Do animals in movies and television know they are playing? | Animals

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I I was watching a movie recently with my partner and he said about a dog lying placidly on a couch, “This is a great dog game.” It got me thinking: what direction can animals take in TV and movies? Do they have any idea what’s going on? Will Frye Shepard, Oxford

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Readers respond

I would say yes and no. I think they are aware that they are being watched and directed and therefore behave accordingly. Their training, obedience, and likely reward just makes them accept.

They are obviously not aware that they are in a scene, that they are a character, that there is a cast, a plot, a script being followed, that the cameras are rolling, the action has started, now she has stopped, a TV / movie has been shot.

Presumably, the dogs and animals that are used in many productions will familiarize themselves with the surroundings, see the cameras and the lighting, and then know that they are in a situation where they will follow commands and therefore “perform.” “. Guardian’s HouseFriend

Certain animals certainly know that they are being watched and react very positively to this attention. Desert Orchid was a classic case, making numerous retired celebrity appearances and raising tens of thousands of people for charity. alisoncowe

Yes! “Dessie” was charismatic and knew it, showing off in front of the crowds. Apparently Red Rum was the same after retirement. I worked with a theatrical cat who was lovely, but could spot a camera 1000 steps away, and I started posing, doing cute stuff, and turning the appeal up to 11. It worked. Ivan Tiger

To quote the big baby: “Baa-ram-ewe. ” jno50

How they got this piglet to learn lines still puzzles me. Murdomania

I think Blue Peter’s elephant knew exactly what she was doing … The scrunchies

Dogs and other animals will absolutely take the lead, but do they know they are acting? Highly unlikely. They are just doing the best they can to make their master (s) happy and we should celebrate them for that … CyKosis73

Our guinea pig only gets a treat after performing a scene from Shakespeare. It’s just a question of motivation. Jimlewis1

I’ve seen things on TV where it’s not 100% clear if humans know they are acting. TonyBallon

A dog won’t know what a movie is or what a camera does. But they can pretend, in a doggy way. My old border made a very “cheesy” growl when we were playing combat (unfortunately he’s not quite up to it anymore) to mean he didn’t really mean it. His real growl is very deep and threatening. I guess this is a rudimentary acting game. rcosmop

They can certainly think in the abstract. My border refused to play with a cart we found too similar to a person. Other times, he objects to his photo being taken by making an ugly face. Borders are a species apart. fox in winter

I am okay. It’s not just about obedience. Some consciously show up when they have an audience because they get more attention. If this is not the very definition of acting … JiKangsReflections

If you’ve ever shared your life with a Golden Retriever, you’ll know the answer to this question. The Goldens are hams and actors. I had three and sometimes they got me stitches. It doesn’t matter Benji or the dog singing in the Flash commercials; golden retrievers are the natural players in the dog world. husky girl

It’s beyond me why I remembered it after all these years, but I read an article in the 1970s, when the Black Beauty series was in progress, where a director said there was a dark horse. in the series who acted differently by the time they went to take. If I remember correctly he said the horse would behave normally until the cameras started rolling, at which point he would start doing what he was told to do, but with more bouncy and “show” – I guess he answered the word “action”.

It’s unclear if he knew the cameras were on and he was on a TV show, but the same article said that other horses they had hired didn’t have the same exuberance when the cameras were rolling, or behaved differently than when the cameras were off them. Poochkah

I asked my dog, but he refused to discuss the contracts until I told his agent about it. Hungarian Flash

My cat and my dog ​​know how to act to attract attention. Greta Cat is an absolute master of emotional manipulation, and very cynical with it. I have had it since she was seven and a half weeks old; she is now 13 and remains my spoiled baby.

Two years ago we took charge of our now 11 year old cockapoo rescue Mimi Dog. Mimi is also very aware of what she is doing when she plays with her big sad eyes or begs for food while doing little dances, or otherwise “plays”. In her case, unfortunately, it is a learned behavior based on what fed and agitated her by people when she was abandoned and left to her own devices on the streets of Romania for about three years. She still has a great attraction to builders in hi-vis gear – clearly, that has a lot to do with who nurtured her at that time. (She was found on a construction site by the emergency services.)

The amazing thing, after this ordeal, is how loving and selfless she is – sure enough, she has abandonment anxiety, but otherwise no behavioral issues. A big influence in her choice – already having a cat – was her nature. When she was found, she still had milk. The shelter had a litter of abandoned kittens; she fed them and treated them as if they were her own. Edward marlowe

My cat can ‘act’ convincingly by being hungry even though she has just eaten. Martimart

In the long history of cinema, many great animal actors are fully aware of what they are doing. King Kong (1933) is an example.

It took months of patient training for Kong (real name Basil) to be able to climb the Empire State Building (they started with smaller downtown skyscrapers to boost his confidence) . The director knew that the scene with Kong being shot down by the biplanes was likely a one-take deal, so when Kong slipped and accidentally fell, they had to carefully edit the scene in post-production to make it look like he did. had been killed. And the famous scene where Kong takes Fay Wray in his hand (filmed in Washington Square) has some hilarious nonsense. Wray was notoriously ticklish, and many takes were ruined because Kong was too delicate. The director had a huge nervous breakdown and yelled at poor Basil, who was only doing his best.

It became known in the trade as “having a ding dong King Kong”. dylan37

I think they know they are performing well. Being someone who listens to directors’ comments, I know that the directors of two of my favorite films – the incredible Hungarian film White God (2014) by Kornél Mundruczó and The Thing by John Carpenter (1982) – both thought that the dogs they contained were great actors.

Carpenter in particular spoke about the moment the dog thing walks down the hall and into the room where the helpless radio operator is. You see it from the end of the hall. The dog comes towards you then stops, looks straight into the camera, looks into the room where you see the shadow of the man and then walks in to kill him (in the story, at least). Chills in my spine every time. Carpenter said the whole team were in awe of the dog’s incredible game at the time.

You can argue that the dog doesn’t know the story as a whole, but there are certainly a lot of actors out there who either don’t have full context (or sometimes no context) for the scenes, or have some great moments from. reaction that is not thought of. After all, we are also animals. Thomas1178


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