Christine Powell established Animal Actors in 1974 and the company is still currently providing trained animals of all kinds to the Australian film and entertainment industry. Animal Actors was the first animal casting agency established in Australia, and is the longest continuously running agency in this country. In 1995 we became pioneers of operant conditioning, using positive reinforcement and the clicker in the Australian film industry. This method is universally recognised as the most humane method of animal training and suits the needs of our film and television work perfectly. In the 1970's Christine began Vet nursing and became a qualified dog obedience instructor with the German Shepherd Dog Club. She was able to indulge her passion for animal behaviour by specialising in taking classes for puppies from the age of 8 weeks. In 1973 the producer of a national family show on Channel 7 called "This Week Has Seven Days" approached Christine to host a weekly pet segment to showcase a variety of animals. She continued in the role as the “ Pet Expert” for seven years until the show finished. At that time, channel 7 decided to make a TV series in conjunction with Crawford Productions entitled "Young Ramsay". Christine became the Veterinary consultant to the actors and trainer of domestic and farm animals and, native wildlife for the show. Our animals have appeared in ads, feature films, live stage productions and TV mini series. We have made thousands of TV commercials over more than forty four years in the industry having done such things as dying white poodles pink, collecting 400 rabbits for the film Celia, and 40 rats for Thunderstone, car commercials using elephants, Wild Turkey bourbon and lions and tigers for Noah’s Ark. Animal Actors has also provided animals for live performances such as "Porgy and Bess" with a goat in harness and "The Wizard of Oz" with Toto the dog. Christine and Animal Actors began work on Neighbours when it first started in 1985 and worked there until 2016. Animal Actors home base is set on 22 acres in the Yarra Valley, Victoria where we keep a wide range of farm animals including chickens, ducks, geese, sheep, cattle and goats. For the last twenty seven years we have bred heritage pigs as part of a conservation program to save rare breeds of domestic farm animals.
Sally Willis has been in the film and television world since she was just a baby, her first film shoot was at a few days old with her mother Christine Ross (Animal Actors owner and director) at the Channel 9 studios in Melbourne. She showed and trained German Shepherds with her mum from the age of 6 at the German Shepherd dog club and was gifted a pony for her 9th birthday that started a life long passion for horses. Sally has worked on many commercials, films, TV series and stills shoots over her 30 years in the industry with her most recent roll as the trainer of Bossy the dog on Neighbours, carer and trainer of the puppy for the Melbourne edition of the Curious Incident of the dog in the night time and supervising wrangler on Judy and Punch. Sally has worked with an amazing variety of animals and even rode a camel for a Diners Club commercial shot in Melbourne, she is a recognised film and television wrangler and one of our head Animal Actors trainers specialising in positive training methods.
Mandy Rolff has been involved with Animal Actors since enrolling herself and her beloved Kelpie/Border Collie, Bonnie, in a clicker training class with Christine in 1996.
Once she got the 'bug' for training there was no stopping her and she quickly rose through the training levels, representing Animal Actors in TV and film. She sadly lost her Bonnie-dog to old age, but not before Bonnie had appeared in several acting roles. Her other dog Mack is still a big part of her life but at the ripe old age of 15 has retired from Acting . Her current 'crew' consists of Mack ( retired ), Henry- a Schnauzer/Pointer mix ( see large dog photos ), and Humphrey- a Stag hound mix ( see large dog photos ). Mandy is an Equine Muscle and Cranio Sacral Therapist and is one of our horse wranglers who also competes and shows her own horses. Mandy is also a welfare officer at Animal Aid.
Mandy has loved being involved in the training, preparation and providing of animals for acting and looks forward to her next job.
Dr Kat Gregory : Animal Actors follows the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Film Animals and in so doing we have an on call Veterinarian where it is appropriate. Although Dr Kat Gregory initially trained as a Vet, working a large part of her career in critical care and anaesthesia, she is now primarily recognised as a highly qualified and experienced applied animal ethologist and animal trainer. This makes her the ideal choice to work alongside our animal trainers. She has had extensive experience with elephants, marine mammals, falcons, otters, gorillas, sharks, stingrays, seahorses, meerkats, cheetahs, lions, servals, jackals and myriad more and has recently returned from Africa. Whilst there she raised/trained a group of young cheetahs destined to become international ambassadors to become voices for conservation.