What is a showreel and why does your animal agent want one?

Why do agents want video footage of your pet?

When an animal casting agent asks for video footage of your pet model it’s because they want to show off your pet to the best of their ability. This is best achieved by putting together a ‘showreel’. 

A showreel is a collection of clips that exhibit the skills of the performer.  They are useful visual ‘CVs’ in video form that typically last a couple of minutes in total.

In the animal casting world, showreels are particularly important as animals don’t usually communicate with producers and directors vocally. It’s the best way to show off the movement of an animal and how they act in front of a camera.

We have seen time and time again that the animals on our books that have good videos are those animals that get booked more frequently.  This is because the producer or director that chooses the animals for their shoot needs to know in advance that the animals will perform as required.

Casting shortlists

Put yourself in the shoes of a director or producer and think which dog you would hire from the following options:

A) The dog has the exact appearance you’re looking for, but there is no video footage to prove the dog’s skills.

B) The dog is similar in appearance to what you wanted and has a great showreel, so you can see that they are capable of performing the command you are looking for.

C) The dog looks nothing like your brief, but the skills on the showreel are incredible. Maybe we can add a skateboarding dog to the script?

Dog B or C will be chosen every time over dog A. You see, no matter how good looking the animal is, the producer or director will always opt for proven ability. Otherwise, how could they trust that your animal will perform on set, just because you say he can?

It’s also important for a producer or director to see how the animal behaves in front of camera, regardless of how many skills the animal has. For example, they may be looking for a cat to be filmed behaving naturally in their environment, so they will want to see in advance how the cat moves, how they play and how they interact with humans or other cats. 

Don’t panic; let’s film!

In an ideal world, we’d all dash off to our local film studio and get a professional videographer to film our parrots playing basketball, but in reality, that’s not always possible (or affordable).

A director isn’t necessarily looking to see a professionally put together showreel that includes video filmed in front of green screen! Yet in today’s world, most of us have the facility to video via our mobile phones, and as long as you give this a little thought, you can give your pet their best shot at getting a good showreels together, in turn leading to more bookings.

You’re not good with phones or computers? You don’t know what apps are and you don’t want to know?

Try not to worry. We’re sure you have a friend, neighbour or family member who can help, and agents at The Animal Talent Ltd are always on hand to offer hints and advice.

Showreel filming tips: 

1) Plan what you want to capture

Write down a list of the behaviours your pet is renowned for and what they’re best at and work from there. 

2) Snakes don’t do tricks!

If the animal has a limited skill set, aim to capture them in movement, play and natural behaviours. Even if your pet isn’t trained to do much more than eat their dinner, let’s see a clip of this – it could be requested by a producer that needs to see how a cat looks while they’re eating, for example. 

3) Location, location, location

This video will be seen by thousands of people on your animal’s profile page. Do you really want those people to see your dirty laundry, washing on the line, or your unmade bed? And consider that the producer will want to see as little distraction as possible. Get them to focus on your pet, not on Coronation Street that can be seen on the TV in the background.

4) Your pet is the star

The producer or director wants to know that your dog can work with you behind the camera. You might be very glamorous, but they’re filming Fido, not you. For this reason you need to try and be out of shot (unless the animal needs proof of handling, e.g. snakes, cats, horses).  Maybe ask a neighbour or friend to take 10 minutes out of their day to hold the camera whilst you work with your pet show off their skills.

5) You don’t have to film one long video

You could film your pet doing different actions in different locations to show how they react in different environments. Film lots of different short snippets so we really get to see the animal performing each specific skill.

Filming guide

Here we have a handy step-by-step guide for getting together a basic but quality showreel at home:

1) Ask your friend to visit for a cuppa

Cajole them into filming you and Felix as you play, train and more! Get your friend to capture lots of different clips on your phone.

2) Send the video clips to your agent.

You can send them via WhatsApp, email or WeTransfer for example. If you are unsure how to do this, give your agent a bell and they will help you!


3) Have a go at putting together a showreel yourself. 

Download a video editing app from your phone’s app store – there are plenty of free options available that are fun and easy to use.

We can edit your video clips for you if required – all you need to do is ask for help.

What our clients want:

Remember, when a producer gets in touch with your agent, they will always ask to see your pet in action before they make a booking. Producers and directors are busy people, so they don’t have time to wait for you to get home from work, film your pet, and submit videos. It is much better if your agent already has a showreel on your pet’s profile to show them. It cuts out waiting and gives your pet the best opportunity of getting a booking. 

Think about it like this: If two black and white cats are shortlisted for the same role and one has a showreel but the other one’s owner will need the agent to call them and ask them to quickly film a video of the required skills, which cat is the producer going to pick? What happens if the owner with no showreel is at work? The producer isn’t going to wait for the owner to get home from work and film the cat, submit the video and look at it the next day. It’s always better to be prepared.

We promise we’re not trying to be annoying when we ask for video footage; we’re doing this for your pet’s benefit and to capitalise on any opportunity that arises. Showreels give your pet the best chance at getting booked.

Further reading:

Here are some great articles to read on human showreels. These apply to animals too; it’s all showbiz!

How to Make a Showreel

Top Tips for Creating a Showreel

If you’re still stuck for ideas, have a look at some of the showreels we feature on our site. Check out your competition and see if you can put together something similar. Always feel free to drop us a line or call and ask for help. We love to hear from you!

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