Red Dog: True Blue will have just one star that endures from the hit film preceding it. Not the titular character – red kelpie Koko died in 2012 – nor any of the human actors. Rather the vast, striking vistas of Western Australia’s Pilbara region.
For some, the mineral-rich Pilbara – a 500,000-square-kilometre band of land dissecting northern and central WA – is scorched earth useful only for digging up. For others, it’s a place of uniquely Australian beauty... or it’s home.
For producer Nelson Woss, the area plays an essential role in his new film, Red Dog: True Blue.
Based on a short novel by British author Louis de Bernières, 2011’s Red Dog told the fictional story of a real masterless dog (also known as Bluey, Tally Ho and the Pilbara Wanderer) deemed so important to the mining town of Dampier that locals erected a statue of him after his death.
Prequel Red Dog: True Blue is set a few years earlier and recounts the tale of a kelpie puppy (Woss is reluctant to say whether it’s the Red Dog of the first film) rescued by a 13-year-old boy after the canine comes close to drowning.
While the first film focused on the Pilbara’s mining community, says Woss, the second film is about pastoral life, with a number of scenes taking place on a cattle station just a short drive from the Red Dog statue in Dampier.
“When you’re shooting up there, it’s two or three clicks brighter than anywhere else; the people and the locations are so interesting and full of life,” he says. “We really couldn’t have done this film anywhere else.”
Woss, who also produced 2003’s Ned Kelly, says the locations of his films are an integral part of the storytelling. “We’re not an American studio – we don’t have millions of dollars to spend on effects. What we do have is compelling, specifically Australian stories set in landscapes that exist nowhere else in the world.”
Red Dog is one of the most financially successful Australian films of all time – and still the bestselling Australian movie on DVD. If Red Dog: True Blue emulates that success, says Woss, it’s likely that there’ll be a third and final movie in the series.
Spoiler alert: it will be shot in WA again (not necessarily the Pilbara) and will tell the story of a military dog...