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According to a number of sources , cruelty to animals is an offence and it is punishable in most countries. But in historical film it's inevitable, because if a film is looking to be historically accurate, and hunting animals (for example) was something important to the historical period and in battle sequences.For instance, In Gladiator the horse sequence at the initial battle were worst and of course that's a worst animal abuse sequences.

According to wikipedia,

TV & film making

Animal cruelty has long been an issue with the art form of filmmaking, with even some big-budget Hollywood films receiving criticism for allegedly harmful—and sometimes lethal—treatment of animals during production. One of the most infamous examples of animal cruelty in film was Michael Cimino's legendary flop Heaven's Gate, in which numerous animals were brutalized and even killed during production.

I'm curious to know about,Nowadays, Do the directors follow any techniques to prevent animal cruelty i.e filming with trained animals,faking the slaughter of animals?

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For a more recent example, I believe any interaction with most creatures in Game of Thrones (besides just riding horses) have pure CGI (the dragons, the wolves, any horse violence). Though I don't have anything to fully support this. – TylerShads Jun 3 '12 at 2:13
@TylerShads,If you believe contemporary movies doesn't have animal cruelty and they are using CGI, Water For Elephants will be a finest example for animal cruelty.I hope this source will help you to consider that animal cruelty exist in recent movies too. – Vijin Paulraj Jun 3 '12 at 6:09
Not saying it doesn't exist, just citing a recent example where they try not to use animals as much as possible. – TylerShads Jun 3 '12 at 8:08
some examples of animal cruelity in hollywood are on this link which shows example from 1984 to 2005 – Ankit Sharma Jun 3 '12 at 8:31
I doubt very much if no animals were hurt making Game of Thrones. For example the pigeon killing by Arrya, looked very convincing (probably thaght by a racing pigeon-owner) and the pigeon was thrown dead on the ground later on. – user5654 Aug 3 '13 at 8:11

As for the U.S., producers can choose to make their films in compliance with the American Humane Association Film and TV Unit. They are the only group officially sanctioned to do this and it is they who provide the "No animals were harmed . . ." message during credit sequences.

Note that bringing in the AHA to monitor the production of a film is voluntary. As can been seen from the reviews section of the site, most productions are in fact monitored and get the "Outstanding" rating. Those which are not monitored are mostly (although not necessarily all--I only looked at a few) filmed internationally (and thus outside AHA jurisdiction) or have benign/no animal involvement.

The AHA have guideline (2.4 MB .pdf download here) that describes in detail the precautions taken to ensure animal wellbeing. Very briefly, it includes such things as:

  • Always having a veterinarian on hand.
  • Making sure the set, crew, costume, and makeup are all safe for the animal.
  • The animal must be properly trained and conditioned for special effects (e.g. gunfire and explosions) as well as stunt work.
  • Specific considerations for each of dogs, cats, birds, fish, horses, etc.

The guidelines are very detailed but may be more about what you cannot do rather than what "tricks" directors use to shoot a scene without hurting the animals involved. However I suspect the latter is achieved through training, makeup/props (in the vein of blood squibs for when humans are "shot"), and (increasingly) CGI effects. Their review of Battleship explicitly mentions a CGI shark.

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It is done using Computer Graphics. I do not know about others, but atleast in Bollywood, all the movies that have even a small scene with any animal, shows the following message at before the actual start of the movie:

No Animals were harmed during the making of the movie. It is a work of Computer Graphics.

Some movies like, All the Best Starring Ajay Devgan, Sanjay Dutt, Bipasha Vasu, delare in detail before the start of the movie. This is what you would see before the start of All the Best:

No animals were harmed during the making of movie. The sequence with the dog is a work of computer graphics and animation.

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The use of CGI is very recent. People have been making movies in which animals appear to be harmed but nonetheless run a "No animals were harmed..." banner since before CGI was even close to good enough. – dmckee Jun 3 '12 at 3:01

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