Lights, Camera, Safety!
American Humane keeps animal actors from harm
By Judith A. Proffer
Chris Obonsawin of AHA with Britney
“No Animals Were Harmed” has become an iconic signature in the world of entertainment, offering a comforting ease and solid stamp of approval for animal loving viewers that the creatures on screen were cared for behind the scenes with dignity and respect and utmost mindfulness during the entire course of the production.
The disclaimer has been parodied in film credits – witness “No dinosaurs were harmed in the making of this motion picture” in 1994’s The Flintstones and “No Jews were harmed…” in the Coen brothers’ 2009 A Serious Man. But the protection American Humane Association (AHA) offers animal “actors” is no laughing matter. Before animal safety was monitored, animals far too often were considered mere props by some callous filmmakers.
Sadly and recklessly, a lion was killed onscreen in 1918 during the filming of Tarzan of the Apes.
And in 1925’s Ben Hur, countless horses perished during the film’s pivotal chariot race scene.
But it was an astonishing disregard for equine life – a horse died a terrifying death after being forced to run off a cliff into water during the filming of 1939’s Jesse James – that led the animal and children rights activists that are AHA to cry “Enough is enough!” and to take matters into their capable hands, founding an arm with the express vision and mission of fighting cruelty to animals in film and television.