Sunday, September 18, 2005


Runaway follows two brothers, Michael (played by Aaron Stanford from Tadpole and X2) and his younger brother Dylan (Zach Savage) who have moved to a small town. Michael has taken a job in a roadside gas station, while Dylan spends his time playing alone in their motel room. In flashbacks and letters to his psychotherapist, it soon becomes apparent that Michael has taken Dylan to escape from their parents, played by Melissa Leo and Michael Gaston, for reasons that are soon revealed. While Michael is trying to lay low, his growing attraction to his co-worker Carly (Robin Tunney) and his own ever-present demons seem to be jeopardizing his attempt to start a new life for him and his brother and leading the film to an explosive conclusion.

Runaway is a surprisingly good film, that features great performances from Stanford and Tunney. They and the script from screenwriter Bill True help to elevate what could have been a conventional film into something more substantial and emotional. The film does not yet have distribution, but hopefully someone will pick it up so that a wider audience can enjoy and appreciate it.

Director Tim McCann, screenwriter Bill True, and producer David Viola were in attendance at the screening and did a Q&A after the film:

  • The film was made a year ago in Catskill, NY, and took about six months to complete.
  • The script ran around about 95 pages, which is relatively short. They workshopped the script with the actors, and developed the material as they went along. They ended up cutting about 15 minutes or so to arrive at the final cut.
  • The story originally came from a short story that screenwriter Bill True wrote in 1998,
  • They saw about 35 boys for the role of Dylan during casting. Zach Savage had a photographic memory of the script. Tim McCann's direction for him was basically "say this line, wait five seconds, say the next line." But as an audience member commented, the performance that came out seemed very natural.
  • On casting: McCann knew Melissa Leo from directing an episode of Homicide: Life on the Street. Terry Kinney (who plays Michael's psychotherapist in the film) came on board at Robin Tunney's suggestion. McCann and Tunney are friends. Michael Gaston was the best out of the 5 or 6 actors who they looked at for the father.
  • Producer David Viola suggested Aaron Stanford just after Tim McCann came on board as director. McCann thought he was a question mark after seeing Tadpole, but after sitting down with him, knew that he was right for the role.
  • The characters of Michael and Dylan were originally younger, but they shifted the ages after casting the actors.
  • A marquee the characters pass in the film actually features one of McCann's earlier films.
  • This is the first produced screenplay of Bill True. Just last Monday (September 12, 2005) he turned in the draft of his next script, The Angel on the Horse, which they hope to start shooting in early 2006.

Potential major spoilers below. Stop reading if you do not want to know anything about the end of the film:

  • True and McCann did a lot of research for the movie (True has a relative who is a paranoid schizophrenic). Michael suffers from disassociative disorder that comes on through extreme mental trauma, and people forget certain events in their lives. True talked to a few psychologists who have all said it is plausible.
  • McCann talked to some psychologists because what interested him is whether or not our behaviour is determined by our experiences or by what genetically our character and personality is. Can we triumph over our experience or a disease/mental illness? He also wondered whether post-traumatic stress could be triggered by further trauma later on, that could induce a psychotic break.


Is there any hope rank-and-file will be able to see this movie? Are they going to find a distributor? Or to release a DVD? I think many people will agree with me, that this film is worth seeing. No, it's absolutely necessary to watch this movie! I've been looking for it for along time, but all in vain. What can I do to make them broadcast it worldwide?!

My experiences at the Toronto International Film Festival. Note this blog is not affiliated with the Toronto International Film Festival Group or the festival itself.
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