Remember that incredible “oner” from the first season of True Detective? The one that collectively made TV viewers squee in delight at the timing and craft? Well, Run, a Chapman senior thesis film from director Trevor Stevens feels like it was spawned from that sequence’s creative DNA. Even at 17 minutes (at the longer end of the shorts we tend to feature) this is a breathless experience: once it kicks in, it really kicks in, capturing a tenuous partnership and tense escape between two rival gang members as they attempt to get out of a Murphy’s Law sort of situation.
It’s hard to discuss a film like Run without mentioning the technical prowess on display—Stevens and his cast and crew exhibit a level of craft and an aesthetic sensibility well beyond what is often found in your average student film. Essentially, that’s just a really long-winded way of saying that Run looks very, very cool. With its long takes, impeccable staging, interesting locations, and fantastic cinematography, this is a short that would be stunning to look at even it wasn’t an exciting action film. So, the fact that it’s such an intense sequence is the figurative icing on the cake. In commenting on short films, I hate using the word visceral, but damn, Run is the type of film that adjective was made for. The characters might not be deep and the rival gang members may feel a bit one-note, but it’s an utterly compelling watch. A film that is bound to appeal to both film nerds (for its technical execution) as well as genre crime thriller fans. Don’t over intellectualize this one…just go along for the ride.
It’s easy to deride a film for relying so heavily on urban stereotypes, but Stevens gives his main character, Marcus, depth. The interactions between Marcus and his son are well-handled and give the film an emotional crux so many other short action thrillers lack. This relationship bestows the film’s ending (centered around an artfully composed shot in a car’s rearview mirror) a powerful emotional resonance.
When initiated into gang life, nothing stops the momentum.
The film’s style is a reflection of its subject matter. As director Trevor Stevens relates, “when initiated into gang life, nothing stops the momentum.” And, literally, Run never stops, devoting around 11 minutes of screen time to its centerpiece continuous take. For those interested in the behind the scenes details, Stevens and his crew shot with a MOVI M10 and a stripped down RED Epic and spent a whole summer of rehearsal time to get everything just right.
Stevens elaborates: “There were over 6 camera operators on this project, and by using the MOVI we were able to do handoffs for seamless camera moves through tight spaces, over railings, and from the second story of a building down to the ground floor.” All together, the continuous take is actually composed of 6 separate shots blended together with hidden cuts that have been edited together to form the larger whole.
As for what’s next, Stevens is hoping to develop a high-octane feature version of Run, focusing on the rise and fall of a man entrenched in gang activity. To keep up to date, be sure to like the film on facebook.