Red Dog's a real star


He was Dampier’s rangy adventurer who hitchhiked his way around WA in the 1970s.

He belonged to no-one but was a friend to everyone.

He was a fully-fledged member of social clubs and unions, had his own bank account and a bronze statue in his image stands at the entrance of Dampier, commemorating the memory of one of the town’s most cherished citizens.

Now he has inspired a major motion picture named after him: Red Dog.

It’ been eight years in the making but Red Dog has finally made it to the big screen.

The film’s producer, Nelson Woss, felt it was only appropriate for the region which lived the story of Red Dog to see the film first.

“I think it’s really important that we do show it here first because it’s the Pilbara spirit that makes this film special and like Red Dog, we wanted to come home and show our love for the region,” he said.

“This is your film and we feel it’s a love letter to the Pilbara.”

A star-studded night under the stars where red dirt was replaced with red carpet and a guest appearance from the film’s star, a red cloud kelpie named Koko, saw the Walkington Theatre become the perfect setting for last week’s national premiere of what looks set to become an Australian classic.

The film, directed by Kriv Stenders, stars Josh Lucas and Rachael Taylor, who were both unable to attend last week’s screening. Instead, it was Koko who stole the spotlight.

Although he needed a touch of colour treatment to give him Red Dog’s rusty red tones, Koko’s trainer Luke Hura, who spent three years training the red cloud kelpie for the role, said he always knew he was a star.

“He was amazing because he took on the spirit, I believe, of Red Dog, so he became Red Dog once he started filming,” he said.

Hitting the publicity trail while in the region last week, Koko made a special trip to Dampier, to visit the statue erected in Red Dog’s honour.

Woss said while the film tells an important part of the Pilbara’s history, it also tells a deeper and universal story.

“It’s about finding your home, the Australian spirit and what it means to live in a community in the outback,” he said.

Locally, the film was praised for its cinematography, which captures the harsh beauty of the Pilbara and Koko’s “extremely charismatic” performance.

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