Kind of blue

Fremantle Heritage Festival: May 26 – June 5, 2017

WESTERN AUSTRALIANS have unique and valuable stories which are worthy of retelling, says Red Dog director Nelson Woss.

Having turned a legendary local pup into a national icon, Woss says he had opportunities to continue his career overseas, but decided to stick with where he grew up because of the rich vein of stories to tap into.

Woss is giving the keynote address at the University of Notre Dame’s lecture series for this year’s Fremantle Festival, from May 26 – June 4.

He says history was a strong element of both the original Red Dog film and last year’s prequel Red Dog: True Blue.

• Red Dog director Nelson Woss and Phoenix, who played Blue in Red Dog: True Blue. Photo  supplied

“The first film is very much a history of the explosion of the mining economy in the Pilbara, when there was this amazing demand for work,” says Woss.

“Companies looked all over Australia and beyond, people came from all over the world, to work in the mining camps.”

The second was set in the earlier pastoral times, but also had strong Aboriginal themes, which Woss said he developed through close collaboration with the Ngarluma community, whose land both Red Dog films were shot on.

“It celebrates growing up on a Western Australian station,” says Woss.

“What I wanted to talk about is that we have our own stories, and some of those stories are amazing and should be celebrated.”

Woss is currently working on another Red Dog film, which is a documentary about Koko, the kelpie that played Red Dog. He was bred by Carol and Len Hobday as a show dog, winning his first major trophy when he was just one year old (or seven in doggy years). After Red Dog had been filmed, the Hobdays recognised the strong connection between the star and the director, and they donated Koko to Woss. Sadly, the star pooch died in 2012, but not before his portrait scored a special commendation in the Archibald Prize.

Woss’s talk will be on Friday May 26 from 6.30pm at the Tannock Hall of Education and will be followed by a screening of Red Dog.

by STEVE GRANT

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