“It started as a documentary”: An interview with Run’s director Scott Graham
Set in the north-east Scottish town of Fraserburgh, Run – written and directed by BAFTA-nominated Scottish filmmaker Scott Graham (Shell) – follows Finnie (Mark Stanley), a father in his thirties who, weighed down by the stresses of life, decides to escape into the night to relive his teenage dreams of street racing, planning to finally run from the small town he’s known all his life.
Inspired by the music of Bruce Springsteen, Run is an intimate and uplifting portrait of the hopes and dreams of a father and his son. Told with a distinctive Scottish flavour, Run also stars Amy Manson, Anders Hayward, and Marli Siu. We had a chat with director Scott Graham about it.
Run started off as a short film. Where did you first get the inspiration for it and what made you decide that now was the right moment to turn it into a feature film?
The inspiration came when I was back home researching a documentary I wanted to make about car culture in my home town. I was focusing on the boy and girl racers of the time and the music they listened to. I remember one of the boys complaining about his dad shutting himself away in his garage to listen to his Springsteen records and making the connection between older and younger generations looking to America for a voice to express the frustrations they were feeling.
I began to see the story more as a drama than a documentary and it became my first short film, which only really scratched at the surface of the story I was trying to tell. My plan was always to return to make the feature, but I got sidetracked by my first and second features. I think I returned to this story at the right time in my career, though. I was ready to do something with a more hopeful conclusion.
In what ways do you feel the project has evolved since you made the short?
I was able to dig down into the four main characters a lot more. Although we’re tied to the father-character’s point of view throughout, I wanted his wife, his son, and his son’s girlfriend to all play their part and to provide the emotional triggers that help Finnie on his journey from longing for his glory days to walking the long road with his wife at the end, more willing to appreciate who he is and what he has now.
There’s a huge contrast between the intensity and grime of the scenes set in the daytime and the fantasy and escapism of the night. Did these feel like shooting two completely different films to you?
That came from trying to understand the appeal and the psychology of driving around the town at night. The town goes from being squat and grey in daylight to black with pops of neon at night. With the radio playing the music you want to hear, it’s not hard to understand the escapism this pastime offers generations of young men and women in small towns – and not just in Scotland. The bubble of the car and the power to cruise or race out the intense claustrophobia of work and home genuinely does provide the illusion of freedom, even if you’re just going in circles.
Watch the trailer for Run here: