Animal actors: Group casts nonhuman talent for films, TV shows
by Megan Thornton
October 20, 2011 11:59 PM | 4998 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Craig Tresan with ‘Antoine’ and Kevin the Fire-breathing Goat, from the Georgia Lottery commercials.<br>Cherokee Tribune/Special
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BALL GROUND — Atlanta Dogworks has cast animal talent for many big-name films and television shows, such as the upcoming Farrelly brothers’ movie “The Three Stooges” and AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”

Now, your pooch, feline, reptile, insect, rodent or equine can get his or her shot at the spotlight.

Owners Craig and Carol Tresan will host the first open casting call they’ve had in about two years from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Animals will be cast for upcoming commercial film work in the greater Atlanta area at the Tresans’ training and boarding facility in Ball Ground.

The Tresans and their team of wranglers have been very busy. Atlanta Dogworks just wrapped filming for the second season of Walking Dead and finished work on “Three Stooges” in August.

With the break in filming — they begin work in December on “The Wettest County” starring Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy — now is the perfect time to find new talent.

“We are always looking for outstanding individuals,” said Tresan.

He added that although all animals are welcome, dogs must be on a leash and any pet requiring a trailer or other special handling must be scheduled in advance. Also, he said he is looking for “something specific” with each animal, most often a particular skill.

“We use dogs that are good at agility and have a wide repertoire in their skill set,” he said.

Skittish or easily frightened pets need not apply. Tresan said that while on set, animals will be around a lot of people and must be able to focus around high levels of distraction.

“If the dog hasn’t been properly trained (to focus), then it’s going to be a problem,” said Tresan.

But Tresan encourages all types of pets and their owners to show up, as the experience is fun for everyone involved.

“We like seeing all of the animals because it’s all entertaining,” he said. “Whether or not we use them… that’s something different altogether.”

Though Atlanta Dogworks is home to many of the trained animals—including 11 dogs, five horses, three miniature horses and a miniature donkey—the company tries to do casting calls to find the various types of animals the film studios request.

“We simply can’t own all of the animals they are looking for,” said Tresan. He has had requests for crows, rats, and even used a lion in “Three Stooges.”

Though Tresan said there’s no particular animal he is looking to cast, he said film contracts often require him to keep quiet on casting specifics.

All of these considerations are relatively new for Tresan, though he has done animal talent work since 1989. Atlanta Dogworks had steady commercial bookings until 2008 when the state passed the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act. Hollywood producers began bringing film opportunities to the area and started looking to Tresan to provide animal talent.

“Hollywood has come to Georgia,” said Tresan. “It’s much cheaper to produce a movie here.”

The Walking Dead has already confirmed work with Tresan for a third season.

“I don’t think the tax incentives are in danger of going away,” he said. “It’s quite good for Georgia.”

Atlanta Dogworks has provided animals for a total of seven movies, three sitcoms for BET, MTV’s “Teen Wolf” and the CW’s “Vampire Diaries.”

As for their location outside of the metro area, Tresan selected it more than years ago when he made the drive from his home in Woodstock all the way to Dawsonville to train his border collies three to four times a week. He spotted the location on the way and made it the home for Atlanta Dogworks and his family, including wife and daughter Devon, 7, in 1996.

Atlanta Dogworks is not just an animal talent agency—there is also an on-site commercial boarding kennel where the professionally trained staff works with animals on behavioral and obedience training, a pool for dogs to work on water-related skills and an arena for horse training.

Tresan has high hopes for Saturday’s casting call to fill upcoming animal roles.

“It’s gotten to the point where we need good help and good animals,” he said. “Usually, we are able to search out animals on our own, but casting calls can generate a lot of interest and help us find diamonds in the rough.”

For more information about Atlanta Dogworks, visit, email or call (404) 786-6400.
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