The Pil­bara stars in the new film Red Dog: True Blue

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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... Red Dog: True Blue opens in cin­e­mas na­tion­ally on De­cem­ber 26.

Boy’s best friend: Mick (Levi Miller) and Red Dog on their out­back ad­ven­tures

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