What I didn’t pick up on was the nuance Andrew Lesnie ACS ASC had in his approach on ‘Babe’. Ultimately, coverage was anchored to the animal characters rather than human characters. This is contrasted by the approach taken in Red Dog, where coverage is anchored to the human characters rather than the dog.

This shift in perspective, is built into the foundation of the script, the narrative point of view laid out by the writer:
Babe is a film about anthropomorphised animals, told by the animals; Red Dog is a film about a heroic dog, told by the humans that it met. Dust Cloud, was a film about a dog, but told through its interactions with the human farmers.
As such, the audience’s point of view is shifted throughout the film in a battle between what the dog sees, what the humans talk about when the dog isn’t around, and an omniscient perspective that drives the climax of the film. I had taken a ‘Babe’ approach, when a ‘Red Dog’ approach was more suited to the narrative at hand. Another way to think about it is as different layers of perspective:
  • At its core, the perspective of the script,
  • on top, visual layers of character perspective and objectivity,
  • plus the consideration of music and sound that help further shape the audiences' ingestion of the world.
There must be an alignment between these layers in our approach to coverage, otherwise there's a risk that the perspective becomes cloudy and muddled, as it did in Dust Cloud.

Clearer articulation of ideas around perspective when collaborating with the director in translating script into coverage, such as storyboarding out scenes, may have alleviated this.
In my discussion with Red Dog’s cinematographer Geoffrey Hall ACS, he offers other insights into the realties of working with animals and tactics they employed.