Red Dog pulls in the crowds

28 Aug, 2011 03:00 AM
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Red Dog producer Nelson Woss with star actor Koko who plays Red Dog.
Red Dog producer Nelson Woss with star actor Koko who plays Red Dog.

A MAN'S best friend is his dog.

This is a great Aussie saying and most farmers would agree with it.

And the new Australian movie, Red Dog, is on track to be a classic, which reinforces the truth of that statement.

The movie Red Dog is filmed in the remote mining town of Dampier and follows the true story of the 'red dog' which travelled the northern part of WA making friends.

The star of the movie is Koko, who plays Red Dog.

Koko, on the outside, is just your regular kelpie who loves space and does as he wishes, like most farmers could probably relate to.

But once you meet Koko, or watch the movie, you realise he is a very unique dog.

Red Dog movie producer and now owner of Koko, Nelson Woss is full of praise for Koko's acting ability.

"We did a nationwide search for the dog and you can see his audition at RedDogMovie.com," Mr Woss said.

"We started the search two years before we began filming.

"You can also see his screen test which is pretty funny."

Mr Woss said once they saw Koko at the audition phase they knew he was the dog for them.

"When we found Koko, we knew straight away he was the right dog," he said.

"So we asked the breeder if we could buy him and the breeder told us no.

"She said the only way she would hand him over is if she got to know me and if I would give him a really good home.

"And then at the end of the movie when she realised I was going to look after him, she gave him to me.

"It was a pretty amazing gift."

Koko was trained by Luke Hura for almost two years before work began on the film.

Mr Woss said the movie, which had grossed $4,522,374 at the time of going to print, was a real Australian movie like The Castle and Crocodile Dundee.

"The movie is about the real red dog that was a very independent rangy dog that the local Dampier community saw something of themselves in," he said.

"These were strong independent Aussie blokes and Koko is a lot like that, as you can see (as if on cue, Koko relieves himself on a tree at Rosalie Park).

"Koko does what Koko wants to do and it is quite fun to have a dog like that."

Mr Woss said he remembered hearing stories when he was younger about the famous red dog which roamed the north of WA and he had always wanted to make it into an Aussie film.

"When I heard that Louis de Bernières had written a book about Red Dog I thought what a great idea for a movie," he said

"It was also a great opportunity for me to come home because I had been living and working in Los Angeles and I had made only one other Australian film and that was Ned Kelly.

"I was always looking for an iconic Australian story for Australian audiences and I thought Red Dog could be it."

Mr Woss said Koko was now just enjoying being a dog and was helping to promote the movie.

"Koko goes to a lot of screenings with me," he said.

"I mean I spend every day with him, so if I have meetings or anything I just take him along and like all Kelpies, he is a fabulous companion."

Mr Woss said word of mouth must be getting around about the movie with the second week grossing more money than opening week.

Red Dog also had the best opening weekend for an Australian film this year.

The locally produced movie also showcases the acting talents of some of Dampier's locals.

"This was a low budget film," Mr Woss said.

"We didn't have the budget or the special effects that a Hollywood blockbuster would have, so we had to work with what we had.

"So when we were in the Pilbara and we had a big scene which required a lot of extras, we would put a call out on the bush telegraph to see if the local community would help us and they delivered.

"Whenever we did a big scene which required extras they would all turn up and we got them decked out in seventies gear and they had a great time.

"The movie would not have been made without the support of the local community."

Mr Woss said it was important for them to do the first premiere of the movie in Karratha and Dampier to thank them and the Pilbara Development Commission for their support.

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