A man and his dog: Since the dawn of Old Yeller and Lassie it’s been the cinema’s surefire way of tugging on our heartstrings. In keeping with that tradition—sort of—Australian Joel Parkinson and his ever faithful pooch Trey are set to walk down the red carpet together as Jack McCoy’s latest celluloid creation, Free As A Dog—A True Dog’s Tale, prepares to hit the big screen. After a year and a half of wandering through Australia with boxer and cinematographer nipping at his heels, Parko revealed in a forthcoming SURFER Magazine Interview (on sale mid-January), “Working with Jack is never easy, it’s hard, but the result at the end is worth it.”
The film, seen through the eyes of and narrated by the ever-loyal Trey, starts near Parko’s home on the Gold Coast, from there the man and his dog embark on a mission to reel two groms (played by James Wood and Ellis Erickson) back in after they’ve fallen out of line while fantasizing about a dark-haired beauty (played by Ashley Cheadle).
“It’s got a Kong’s Island thing going on,” says Parko, “but it’s also got some of that classic Mad Wax acting.”
The best part of it all, and Parko will be the first to tell you, the acting is god-awful. From scenes with groms tied to car roofs to Trey “runnin’ around and pissin’ on everything,” as Parko fondly recalls, Free As A Dog has successfully brought humor back into surf films, and it’s about time.
But don’t think for a minute that the surfing plays second fiddle to the acting. Parko’s performances, some at never-before-seen spots along the Australian coast, are nothing short of brilliant. And the two featured groms? “They were good before we started filming,” says Parko, “but by the end their talent had come so far.”
Beyond the quality of the film itself, is the top-shelf presentation. After the World Premiere on January 2nd, 2006, at Sydney’s State Theatre, Free as a Dog will travel internationally with the Billabong Jack McCoy Surf Film Festival until August 2006. It’s been a goal of McCoy’s, along with festival producer Sinclair Black’s, to bring surf films back to the big screen. “Watching a surf film on the big screen is the ultimate,” emphasizes McCoy “you just can’t beat the feeling”.
As well, following its success over the past two years, the Panasonic Surfshorts winning entry will be the curtain raiser to the festival each night. Panasonic Surfshorts is a short film competition that aims to encourage and support filmmakers of all levels to express their ideas and creativity through the production of a 7-minute film. A special thank you goes to Panasonic who are the official sponsors of the surf film competition. The winning entry will also receive $10,000 and the widely sort after Panasonic 3CCD Digital Video Camera to the winning entry.
For tour dates go to Billabong.com. Free as a Dog will be released on DVD in September 2006.