Davinia Hamilton-Maddox – Owner of Animal Direction
Davinia Hamilton-Maddox, founder of Animal Direction has been based at MediaCity for the past 6 years, sourcing, casting, handling and caring for animals that appear on our screens.
“We have seen the demand for animal actors grow as MediaCity becomes home to many different production companies, we have become the go-to animal model agency for producers who have a role to fill.
For anyone who thinks they have a pet with star quality, Animal Direction invites responsible pet owners to register their pets for possible future assignments via their website.
“The highlight of my day is looking through the photos of the animals that have been registered on our website. We don’t charge owners to register their pet, but we do a lot of due diligence for every brief to make sure we have the right animal for the job.
“When we receive an enquiry from a producer the process of searching for models and casting takes a long time. We have to understand the storyboard and makes sure that the animal we select can deliver the best results on the day. Casting an animal is just a small part of the producer’s role so we project manage the process so that they can get on with the rest of the production.
“We also offer animal welfare though our sister company, Vet on Set, to ensure that animals are properly cared for throughout the filming process, as this is a legal requirement to protect animals whilst they are on their modelling assignments.
“We have great fun when it comes to the filming, and I can think of one particular TV commercial for Harrington’s dog food, where we had 25 dogs on location, their job was to run down a hill, whilst a drone filmed from above. We had a few takes to get the final sequence in the can, which the dogs loved, but it was hard work for the owners who were up and down that hill a fair few times until the director was happy!
“Another highlight was casting for Pooch Perfect, a series presented by Sheridan Smith and filmed here at MediaCity. For this our brief was to find some hairy looking hounds in need of a make-over, in a bid to find Britain’s best dog groomer.
“Just having programmes like Judge Rinder filmed at Dock10 meant we were in the right place to support their casting needs. We are a specialist service and being based at MediaCity is crucial to our business, I can’t imagine us being anywhere else.