John Swab Talks About The Concept Of Run With The Hunted And Working With Inexperienced Child Actors

Run With The Hunted is an indie film of a young boy who commits murder to save his friend and is forced to runaway from his hometown. One the run he is inducted into a gang of child street thieves where he sees his innocence slip away as he is introduced to love, murder, and corruption. When Loux moves to the city in search of work, she takes a job with a struggling private investigator. Stumbling upon her old friend Oscar’s missing child report, she takes it upon herself to find the boy who saved her life. I was able to talk with writer and director John Swab about the concept of this film and the challenges of using inexperienced kids filming this movie.

Nancy Tapia: So, I got a chance to watch Run with the Hunted. I have to say, I was not expecting that ending. You wrote the film, directed it, but from the writer’s perspective, did you have an alternate ending?

John Swab: No.

Nancy Tapia: No?

John Swab: No alternative ending. Yeah. So, that was the ending from the start.

Nancy Tapia: Why that concept? I mean, at the beginning, there was just that hopeful feeling for Oscar.

John Swab: Well, I don’t see it as necessarily a bad ending. I kind of see it as a happy ending, but my… I got a different perspective than other people, I guess. But I see it as him kind of setting these boys free, and them kind of assuming his position for Loux and for Amos. Kind of a full circle thing where they’re now taking his place.

Nancy Tapia: I definitely don’t think it was a bad ending. I kind of wished that he would have had a little bit of that happiness that maybe he had from when a kid. You know what I mean?

John Swab: Yeah, yeah. No, I know what you mean. I know what you mean.

Nancy Tapia: I’m trying not to say too much.

John Swab: Yeah, I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t give it to you. I’m sorry.

Nancy Tapia: No worries. But tell me from the beginning, why that idea for a story? It was a really good story.

John Swab: I enjoy kind of pulpy, culty films like this. Kind of throwback movies. There are not a lot of stories made like this nowadays. I think that’s where it kind of started. I had a lot of fun writing it, and a lot of fun casting it. And yeah, I mean, it kind of derived from my favorite movies as a kid, like the Outsiders, and Rumble Fish, and things like that.

Nancy Tapia: Speaking of favorite past movies, I like that reference Oscar uses with the kids, the Lost Boys. Why did you decide to use it?

John Swab: Yeah, that was actually Michael. Michael insisted on using that. He liked the idea of a pretty flagrant call back to iconic films like Hook, or Peter Pan, and those stories. I thought it was nice, so we kept it.

Related: Odessa Young Talks About The Intense Nature Of The Film Shirley

Nancy Tapia: That was actually one of my highlights of the film. I was like, “Oh, the Lost Boys. It’s so perfect.”

John Swab: Good, good. Yeah, no, it does. It fits great.

Nancy Tapia: What were some of the challenges that you came up with? Because you wrote the story, and the work of putting it in the big picture as the director?

John Swab: The only real struggles are just raising money and trying to tell a big story like this on a minimal budget. Trying not to sacrifice too much and still stay true to what I had written. Those were the main constraints we had. Other than that, it was really quite enjoyable creatively.

Nancy Tapia: How did you know these were the actors to play the roles?

John Swab: My producing partner, Jeremy Rosen, and I take a lot of pride in casting. We really did our research. With the means we had, a lot of the kids were regional. So, we really watched a lot of tape. And in terms of the bigger actors, we have relationships with some, and called in favors. And the others, responded to the story and wanted to be a part of helping tell it.

Nancy Tapia: What helps casting kids? Because I mean, I’m sure it’s one procedure with adults, but another with kids. Especially when you have strong scenes strong scenes that defines a big part of the film. Like said, try not to give too much away of the film.

John Swab: I think in terms of casting the kids, it was just instinct. A lot of them hadn’t acted before. Or if they had, it had been very, very minimal work. With the exception of Kylie, who played Young Peaches. But for the non-actors, it was really just kind of like instinct and who felt most natural and comfortable when they were taping or in front of a camera.

And then luckily with somebody like Kylie or Boone or Ron Perlman, they’re pretty seasoned and are comfortable with kind of shepherding or helping somebody who is new to the craft through a scene.

Nancy Tapia: Where did the filming take place and how long did it take?

John Swab: It was filmed in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and it took 22 days.

Nancy Tapia: Oh, that’s impressive.

John Swab: Yeah, it was quite the sprint.

Nancy Tapia: Anything you can share about the scenes where handling weapons took place? Did any of the cast have to do any training for it?

John Swab: I think Michael has done training for other things. He was pretty comfortable with the weapons. And the kids with the weapons, it was… It felt more natural for them to be kind of new to it, and not be so natural with a weapon. It felt more dangerous that way. So, for them, there was none.

Nancy Tapia: Can you talk a little bit about Michael Pitts character.  In portraying vulnerability, but yet showing that tough skin. How did you work on bringing that into screen?

John Swab: I mean, I did as much as I could in writing it. But really, it just came from discussions with Michael and I on how we both saw the character. And I give a lot of credit to him, because I think that’s what he does best, is bringing this kind of very physical masculinity with also a very raw and tender undercurrent that is pretty special. So, we talked about it a lot, but really I got to give a lot of credit to him for bringing it out.

Nancy Tapia: What about when it came to the Young Amos? Same thing, that transition, he’s very caring, but yet the way you captured it on camera being upset to see how his friend living a miserable life.

John Swab: Yeah. I mean, with kids and with that kid, he naturally just had a pretty scared look on his face all the time. He hadn’t acted before, so it was really trying to trick him into getting the performance we needed from him. He’s a really sweet kid, but it taught me a lot in being clear and direct when working with people that are not actors. With more seasoned actors, you can be a little bit more esoteric or atmospheric. They kind of like to discover things on their own, but with non-actors, you’ve got to be very specific. So, it was a unique experience. A learning experience for me.

Nancy Tapia: Nice. Well, to start finalizing John, is there anything you can share that you might be working on, or that you may have coming out?

John Swab: Yeah. We have a film called Body Brokers that’s done, and we’re figuring out exactly how it’s going to be released. And then we’re about to be getting into something else that I can’t say too much about, but we’re really excited. So, thank you for talking to us about this movie.

Nancy Tapia: Of course. Thank you.  I love indie movies. I think those are the ones that have the best content and best stories.

John Swab: Well, thank you so much.

Run With The Hunted will be released Friday, June 26th.

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