Doco-maker to focus on working dogs

EMILY BEAUMONT
Last updated 12:00 22/07/2014

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A passion for film-making took Sally Rowe from Rangitikei to New York, and now an interest in working dogs has brought the director home.

Rowe, born and raised in Hunterville, was behind the camera during a seminar by dog trainer Paul Sorensen at Otairi Station last week.

Rowe has worked in the United States film and television industry since attending New York University's film programme in 1994.

"I loved it, realised that anything was possible. It was a really vibrant film scene, really diverse, you had to work hard and struggle," she said. "I struggled for a long time, it was tough, but it's a great town."

Rowe's hard work paid off and her first documentary, A Matter of Taste, on English chef Paul Liebrandt, was released in 2011 to rave reviews.

"Liebrandt was making this really modern, crazy food before the whole food craze sort of started."

Being self-funded, Rowe had to take a piecemeal approach, shooting until the money ran out, then working other jobs until she could afford to start rolling again. It took her nine years.

The documentary screened on HBO, was nominated for an Emmy Award, picked up a prize from the James Beard Foundation, which recognises culinary education, and was included at the New Zealand Film Festival.

The unsung work force of the working farm dog has become the focus for Rowe's latest project and she is working closely with Sorensen.

"I think Paul Sorensen's a really interesting character. He's a talented man and has a sixth sense as far as working with dogs goes," she said.

"He's a very smart man and understated. I'm going to explore through Paul how dogs are used and trained and their uniqueness in New Zealand."

Rowe said the fickle nature of the industry meant her product could "sing or sink".

While working as a hairdresser after completing her secondary education at Nga Tawa, Rowe was always interested in film but struggled to get a foot in the door.

"I love great visuals. I would always be drawn to the beauty of the great film-makers but I hadn't had the opportunity to know I could be involved, so I finally found a way in," she said.

Rowe looks forward to returning to the family farm each year.

"I love the land, I always will and it's good for the soul when you're in a crazy city like New York, to come back here and get back to the basics and the good stuff."

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- Manawatu Standard

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