Producers of Hit Aussie Film 'Red Dog' Launch Franchise With 'Blue Dog'

"Red Dog"

The prequel telling the origins story of the star canine is one of twelve projects to get Screen Australia funding this month.

SYDNEY – A film that will set up a franchise based on local box office hit Red Dog (2011), a new supernatural themed TV drama from NBC Universal’s Matchbox Pictures and nine multiplatform projects have all received financing in Screen Australia’s final round of funding for the 2014 financial year.

The agency has tipped $4.2 million (AUS$4.5 million) into twelve projects, triggering production worth over $23.3 million.

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The final round of financing for the year comes as the Screen Australia board readies to consider program cuts and efficiencies, following the federal government’s budget announcement earlier this month that $38 million would be stripped from the agency’s funding over the next four years.

The team behind Woss Group Film Productions’ Red Dog, including producer Nelson Woss, director Kriv Stenders (Kill Me Three Times) and writer Daniel Taplitz will reunite for Blue Dog, the story of the early events that led to the discovery of Red Dog, and the canine’s search for his master that united a mining town in the 1970’s. Red Dog is the ninth top ranking Australian film of all time at the local box office, taking over $19.6 million, and the top selling Australian DVD of all time.

There was never a specific plan to do a Red Dog sequel, Woss told Fairfax Media

“We weren’t interested in doing a sequel for the sake of doing a sequel,” he said ‘‘We pretty much thought we were going to leave the Red Dog story alone. "But [Red Dog writer] Daniel Taplitz came up with such an original, different take on a standalone film that we decided to do it."

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The Western Australian government will also put money into Blue Dog, which will shoot in the remote iron ore mining region known as the Pilbara, in the north west of Western Australia later this year.

Also receiving financing is producer Ewan Burnett, writer/producer Louise Fox  and writers Kris Mrksa (The Slap, The Time of Our Lives, The Turning), and Giula Sandler (Love Child, Wentworth), for TV drama, Glitch,about a group of people fighting for their lives (for a second time) after they are accidentally resurrected from the dead. Its being produced by Matchbox Pictures for the ABC, with NBC Universal handling international sales.

"In this round of funding we are pleased to be able to support a great diversity of Australian creative talent generating compelling stories on all platforms. Here we see the breadth of formats, genres and innovative pathways to audience that the Australian production community is capable of," said Screen Australia ceo, Graeme Mason.

Mason pointed to the international value of Australian stories, noting that at the Cannes Film Festival this year Australian film sales to international territories more than doubled the sales of the year prior. The deals capped the three Australian films screened in competition at the festival receiving standing ovations and critical acclaim; and the Un Certain Regard best actor award for veteran indigenous actor David Gulpilil in Charlie's Country. “Australian talent continues to shine on the world stage with Australians announced in key roles in many high-profile international productions,” he added.

Also receiving Screen Australia coin is Happening Films’ Downriver, a mystery inspired by true events, which will be the debut feature of award-winning short film director and writer, Grant Scicluna. The film will be produced by Jannine Barnes and star Kerry Fox.