The Run is a gripping action thriller set in a cold, post-pandemic world that is crippled by climate change, perpetual lockdowns, border closures and a tragic fertility crises. In it, Mac, an ageing, reclusive and reluctant smuggler is delivering mysterious contraband, when en route he finds himself begrudgingly helping Aliah, a runaway teenager, and her newborn baby – the first infant born in nearly two years. Together, against a ticking clock the unlikely pair must evade Aliah’s pursuers, a ruthless family of criminals, and discover the redemption they both seek and the hope they both need.
The Run is a gripping action thriller set in a remote, dystopian, post-pandemic world that is crippled by global lockdowns and a mysterious infertility crisis.
An ageing smuggler, Mac, a man with secrets and a tragic past, reluctantly runs contraband across the vast, frigid Australian coast, dodging quarantine zones, abandoned towns, roadblocks and viral outbreaks, while stuck in servitude to his ruthless, paramilitary employers.
During a challenging run, he finds himself reluctantly helping Aliah, a runaway teenager and her infant child – the first child born in Australia in two years – as she tries to evade her ruthless captors.
The trio form an unlikely bond as Mac and Aliah dodge her hostile pursuers as they traverse the windswept, rugged Australian coastline while navigating what it means to exist and co-exist in a brutal, dog-eat-dog world. This is a land where fortune seems to favour the selfish, yet redemption and salvation ultimately belongs to those who learn to lean on each other.
The film is an intelligent and tense action thriller that draws on conventions of neo-noir. It is set in a rich and unique world – a cold, remote, windswept, post-pandemic Australian coastal landscape. Through the rich tapestry of landscapes and the unique characters that populate this space, the film pays tonal and visual homage to films like Logan, Children of Men, and the sensational game and HBO series, The Last of Us. Thematically, we explore characters that do what they can to survive in a hostile, broken world where little hope remains.
The film is full of visuals that take us from rugged, cliff-lined coasts, to loving moments of maternal intimacy. It builds suspense and emotion through the stylised use of score and music that adds character and nuance, while building a sense of suffocating anticipation. The Run explores what it means to be human and part of a tribe in a toxic, uncertain world and through the film we witness how both Mac and Aliah, two individuals who feel alone, yet crave connection both discover their belief in humanity, and the truth that solidarity defeats singularity.
I was always interested in writing and making a film that explored the idea of selflessness vs self-interest during times of crisis. Stories about the end of times, or the chaos and tumult of the aftermath of cataclysmic events have always fascinated me. Perhaps growing up in Africa, with constant dis-ease and uncertainty fostered this fascination and need to explore life through adversity.
These films and these stories allow us to explore the lengths people will go to, to survive. The lone wolf archetype was always at the back of my mind, was always the image I fell back on as I was crafting Mac, the central character in The Run. In this way, I set him up, as a selfish loner, separated and isolated from the ‘pack’, who, through the course of the film, is given the opportunity to transcend primal survival and connect with others and his instinct of generosity.
But there was always a second energy that yearned to come through, and from the beginning, my instinct was to write a story about an unlikely duo (Mac and Aliah) who would challenge each other and learn to support each other through the high-stakes events of the film.
Mac and Aliah are the respective embodiments of some of the archetypal binaries that have served myth and story, and therefore our understandings of the world, for millennia. In many ways, they represent old and young, hopeless and hopeful, male and female. But where they overlap and what binds them is their universal yearning, either conscious, as in Aliah’s case, or unconscious, as in Mac’s case, for a place to call home and a family to share it with.
As touched on, the film is set in a dystopian, post-pandemic world. From its earliest iterations, I was always writing a film set slightly in the future. When I began drafting, I was heightening the stakes of the world by projecting out our anxieties and insecurities. What if climate change accelerated, what if border security became an issue, what if notions of national identity led to the collapse of the nation-state as we know it? This became the cinematic world of mistrust and hopelessness that I wanted to explore. And then 2020 happened, and I found that the world was catching up with the world I was creating.
And so, the new world of The Run was born. This is a world that is intentionally and unnervingly similar to our own. In some respects, it’s our world, 10-15 years out from now, where lockdowns have persisted, state and national borders have remained shut, where we’re chasing our tails battling wave after wave of a virus pandemic… with people divided on what they do or don’t believe. We’re in a failed state that is trying to cling to control, all while at the edges, anarchy begins to reign.
In this world, indeed as in our own, chaos and uncertainty have taught us the value of our tribes, and so in many ways, the film is a story about family. The antagonists have forged a powerful albeit arguably warped pack, Aliah is searching for her family and Mac has lost his family. But we know, or indeed our characters come to learn the thematic truth at the heart of the film – when we bond together AND ACT WITH INTEGRITY, then we can survive and thrive, both as a tribe and as individuals.
And so the film explores these themes and at a subtle level will hopefully ask audiences who they want to be during times of crises – will they panic buy and hoard supplies, or will they knock on their neighbour’s door and find out if they need any help.
And so this is the world of The Run. But to flip the trope of ‘hot Outback Australia’ on its head, we’ve opted to create a winter world. A world of barren, windswept, coastal beauty and hostility. It’s a rugged world. A cold world. A world of extremes. A world of food and resource scarcity and the colourful characters that have had to learn to call this hostile place home.
The way we deal with the pandemic in the film is particularly important. The film is consciously vague around the specifics. This isn’t a film about a pandemic. It’s a film about people navigating hostility in a harsh world, that happens to be dealing with the ongoing hangover of a viral pandemic. It’s never meant to be COVID-19, but of course, we live in a post-pandemic world, so this will be our reference point. I’m less interested in the nuances of how the virus behaves, or how specifically deadly it is or isn’t. All that’s important is that it exists in the wings as an ominous threat and has created opportunities for nefarious activities, i.e. vaccine smuggling.
As much as Mac and Aliah are the central protagonists, the fact that Aliah has a baby is paramount. The baby was always there to serve as a symbol of hope, as a beacon of light in an otherwise darkening world. Films and stories are also metaphors, and as such the baby, with its symbolic vulnerability and fragility, raises the stakes of the narrative to its highest potential, giving our characters the opportunity for highest transformation. But then, adding a layer or richness to this, the idea of creating a fertility crisis becomes the final layer of world-building that solidifies the stakes of the story, as this is the epitome of hopelessness. When we cannot procreate, hope truly dies, as explored in some of the most gripping stories I know and love (Children of Men, Handmaid’s Tale). These narratives have started to explore this theme, and it became an obvious fit for the world of The Run.
The hostility of this world plays into our characters’ nostalgic yearning for a time gone by. A time of plenty, of innocence. A time when the world was happier, healthier and more prosperous. I want to explore this theme of nostalgia through elements in our style, aesthetic and indeed soundscape. The film has a retro sensitivity, that adds to its postmodern sensibility, and I trust this will serve to delight the audience with a fresh lens on the harsh, barren outback trope that we’ve come to expect.
I believe The Run will be a film that thrills audiences, giving them everything and more than what they wanted from a post-pandemic action thriller. It’s a film full of colourful and surprising characters and at a plot level, it’s a film that puts its foot on the gas and doesn’t slow down. It’s a film with beauty and harshness, full of fragility and courage. It has rich and complex characters that are served by the plot as they move through an emotional journey that we are thrilled to go on.
A film and television veteran, with over 20 years experience as a Producer and Director of television, video and multi-media, Paul has forged an incredible career in the film industry. He has made a wide range of innovative and effective television programs for both Channel Nine and the ABC as well as hundreds of films for clients of all sectors and size. Paul is the founder and CEO of 57 Films, one of the largest production companies in South Australia and through a new partnership with Qingdao Television, Paul is now producing Television Programs for International audiences.
Paul was Line Producer on two international productions, Barefoot Through Australia, a German feature film produced by Schiwago Films, which 57 Films facilitated, and in 2018, 57 Films partnered with Beijing’s Ciwen Media on the first Chinese television drama series shot in Australia, titled Speed. The series was filmed in Adelaide and surrounding areas over 6 weeks with a budget of $100m.
Beginning her career as an actress with roles in shows such as McLeods Daughters, City Homicide and Packed to the Rafters, Chloe made the move to producing and directing in 2008 with Snapshots, her first short film, which went on to win Best International Short at the SoCal Film Festival in California.
She moved into creative entrepreneurship when she founded and ran Australia’s largest and longest running film school for kids, Kids Camera Action. Then in 2012, she founded one of Australia’s largest youth Film Festivals, the Adelaide International Youth Film Festival, which merged with the prestigious Adelaide Film Festival in 2020.
Chloe is the Senior Producer at Beyond Content and its long-form production arm, Arterial Films, and through 2016-2021 she produced a range of award-winning film and broadcast projects including Super Sounds, which screened at over 60 festivals, The Rover of Tobruk, a broadcast documentary, and Butterfly, a poignant coming-of-age short film doing the festival rounds in 2021 as well as dozens of world-class TV Commercials for national and international brands.
In 2021, following her role as Production Manager on the Netflix acquired feature film, A Second Chance, she began working as Associate Producer and Production Manager on the Netflix Series, A Second Chance: The Series.
Chloe was the recipient of the Winnovation Award for Creative Entrepreneurship in 2016, and completed her MBA in 2019.
Stephen is a writer/producer/director who has made more than 20 short and broadcast films. Throughout his career, he is privileged to have worked with some of South Africa and Australia’s top actors, including Ian Roberts (Tstosi), Sean Cameron Michael (24, Black Sails) and Socrates Otto (Wentworth).
An alumnus of the directing program at AFTRS, his most successful narrative film to date, ‘Super Sounds’, screened at over 50 festivals, winning awards and nominations at many, including San Francisco International FF, Giffoni, Flickerfest, and was selected by Virgin for their in-flight entertainment. His broadcast credits span documentary and drama and he is currently in active development on his first feature, with equity finance secured from the private sector.
In a commercial capacity, Stephen has been directing for all screens full time for 12 years, with his work taking him to over 20 countries on five continents.
He recently directed a half hour broadcast documentary about the life and legacy of Australian war hero and sporting legend, Bob Quinn and has recently completed his latest dramatic short, Butterfly, co-directed wth his wife, Chloe Gardner, which premiered at the worlds largest Children’s film Festival, Giffoni, in July 2021 and as of late 2021 is currently doing the festival rounds. In mid 2021, he was signed as an episode director on the Netflix produced young adult series, Gymnastics Academy: A Second Chance.