Scott Graham & the cast on Scottish small-town drama Run

Shell and Iona director Scott Graham returns with third feature Run. Sitting down with The Skinny and some of the film's cast, Graham tells us how his tale was inspired by a visit to his hometown and the story of a Bruce Springsteen obsessed fisherman

Feature by Carmen Paddock | 07 Feb 2020
  • Run

Run, the third film from Scott Graham, captures the restlessness of small-town Scottish life through the eyes of a former boy racer, who seeks one final night on the road before facing his very different life back home. We caught up with Graham and his Run cast members – Mark Stanley, Amy Manson, Anders Hayward, and Marli Siu – at the London Film Festival last October. 

Sitting down with us in the café at the Vue Leicester Square, Graham speaks passionately about his influences, citing a trip home to Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire about 15 years ago when researching a short film about boy racers. When there, he heard a local story about “a fishwife leaving her husband because he was listening to too much Bruce Springsteen.” The tragicomic scenario sat with him until he was ready to make Run. “I wanted to get it right and let it percolate in the background,” Graham recalls, “sometimes you know and you're thinking about them even if you're working on something else.”

The cast was drawn to the story through the immensely recognisable, relatable characters Graham created. Manson and Siu grew up nearby, and both recognised their friends and families in their characters Katie and Kelly respectively. “That was amazing to get a chance to be a part of something that felt so authentic and so real to your own upbringing,” Siu says.

Lead actor Stanley doesn't hold back with his praise, citing the “amazing, nuanced, human thing about people I knew – stuck in the cycle of their hometown” as an immediate source of connection. "They’ve nailed their colours to the mast and that’s it,” he says, “and they're either going to thrive in that or they’re going to get depressed with the limited options, so I could connect to it straight away.”

The cast readily admits that another main draw to the project was Graham’s script and the collaborative nature of his work. “I tried to write something that when we all came to do it we would recognise the place,” Graham says, adding that he had to be ‘careful’ with the portrayal “because it’s my hometown.” He felt it important to get the actors on location from the early stages to absorb the atmosphere and spend time together – and in Stanley’s case, so that he could learn to fillet fish (thankfully, a success). “I wouldn't really call what we did rehearsal,” he says. “We just got together and talked about what was happening; it was really nice.”

Aside from the local flavour and the initial Springsteen anecdote, Graham wanted to bring the focus of a good Raymond Carver story. “[Carver] never wrote screenplays but I think he could have written good screenplays because so much of it is about using the smallest number of words and then giving it to people to fill in the gaps,” Graham says.

“Scott's writing unfolds itself in a way you can read over it and over it and over it and some things he writes so simplistically but that allows for numerous ways of doing it,” Stanley adds.

Hayward agrees: “There was no filler, everything was so concise and necessary; every word was important, everything that a character said was revealing something about their character or hiding something about their character.” 

A key portion of the film takes place when Finnie and Kelly share a midnight ride around the town. “It was amazing to get to act in that environment because the camera was in the back of the car a lot of the time so you just forget, and because Mark's driving the route the whole way through the film, you can escape the way that sometimes when a camera's here you get a bit self-conscious,” says Siu. “It's like theatre: you're just sitting there getting to act and totally escape any feeling you're on a set as you cruise around, and then Scott would be in a car behind shouting stuff every now and then."

While she had a great time, the logistics proved trickier. According to Graham and Stanley, DOP Simon Tindall was “getting thrown left to right” in the back of the car as Stanley tore through the streets. The finished product, with skilful sharp and soft focuses on faces and streets as appropriate, shows no sign of this chaos. The car, however, did not survive. "We blew two exhausts on it; we ruined this car,” Stanley says, “but the nice local guy who gave us the car and did all of the restorations on it was fine with the fact that we killed it. It’s being rebuilt.”

Run has its Scottish premiere at Glasgow Film Festival – Sun 1 Mar, 8.45pm, Mon 2 Mar, 3.30pm, Glasgow Film Theatre