5 MINUTES WITH... An Animal Talent Agent / Gerry Cott

We often use animals in our shoots here at LPA and have worked with the legendary Gerry Cott, founder of animal acting agency A-Z Animals, many times over the years. Gerry is always a pleasure to deal with and it was fascinating spending 5 minutes with him - what an interesting life! Can you tell us a little about your company, A-Z Animals? A-Z Animals was founded in 1983 – I was asked to do some filming with my Border Collie, Marley (named in honour of Bob Marley) and it slowly grew from there. Our first major project was training three pigs for the feature film ‘A Private Function’ with Maggie Smith, Michael Palin and Richard Griffiths which was funded by George Harrison from The Beatles

As the founder of the business, how have you seen the industry develop over the last 30 years? Working with animals nowadays is very much more considered, controlled, and regulated which I am very happy about. What’s the strangest request you’ve ever had? Filming with Russian Squirrels in Ukraine.

People always say ‘never work with animals’, how would you convince them otherwise? We have helped build the portfolio of many photographers and show reels of many production companies – these are the people who know best about working with animals – when they come back to us, we know we’ve made “working with animals” easy for them. At LPA we love reading your blog, does social media play an important role in your business? To us, our blog acts as a reference point for prospective clients as to the scope and the quality of the work we do, both in still and moving image. As regards the heady world of daily social media – we don’t bother.

Who is your favourite celebrity animal? Fozzie Bear

Do you have any pets yourself? Two West Highland Terriers What’s the most exciting project you’ve been involved in? The most enjoyable, exciting long term project was the feature film The Adventures of Greyfriars Bobby – 10 weeks in beautiful Scotland.

Is there any animal you’re dying to work with but haven’t had the opportunity yet? Elephants in Sri Lanka

What would you be doing if you weren’t running A-Z Animals? Well, I actually trained as an architect and I co-founded The Boomtown Rats with Bob Geldolf and music is still a passion, but I love my work at A-Z Animals because I invented it and it’s very successful and unique. One of our photographers, Toby Coulson, does a lot of work with animals bred for showing. Can you see this llama having a potential career? Of course – he / she (?) is beautiful and could certainly adorn any photographic layout – that required a llama, that is! © Toby Coulson