Cooney’s “Runner” leaps to distribution on Omeleto

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Clare Cooney in "Runner"

Clare Cooney in “Runner”

For any artist
who wants to make
a really good
short film on a
single-grand budget,
this thriller is
required viewing

Clare Cooney’s award-winning short film, Runner, obtained distribution and is today available on Omeleto — a curated YouTube channel that features groundbreaking short films and has nearly 1.5 million subscribers.

Runner is a short film that tells the story of Becca, played by Cooney, who goes out on a sunny-day jog and stumbles upon a tragic and violent act along her route. She makes a run for it, but eventually must find more than immediate safety.

When deciding where to seek distribution, Cooney states, “Obviously, you can go the route of Vimeo, but you never have a guarantee that it will be chosen as a Staff Pick or not… And then I ran into this channel called Omeleto on YouTube. They have a really great subscriber base and it’s free to submit.” Omeleto publishes a short a day, many of which are Oscar nominees and Sundance official selections.

Cooney — a well-established Chicago actor and casting director — took a natural leap into directing with Runner. The consensus is in: it is really really good.

“I think I have always been a director in the back of my mind,” reflects Cooney.

 
RUNNER | TRAILER

 

She continues, “There are some sets, obviously, where I am just learning and listening to the director and watching.” However, despite a firm belief in not overstepping boundaries and respecting the various production roles, Cooney admits, “There are some sets where I am like, ‘I feel like I could tell them how to do this better.’”

As the writer / director / lead actor / editor / co-producer of her $900-budget Runner, Cooney did not need to worry about overstepping boundaries in her directorial debut. When talking about the scale of the production, she laughs, “It was a bit of a one-woman show… We were all stretched really thin.”

Despite the six titles Cooney has in the short’s credits, that “one-woman show” actually had a great deal of support and Cooney’s industry connections served as a valuable resource. Runner features Jason Chiu’s (Mercury in Retrograde, Cold War) sleek cinematography, a beyond believable cast whose performances leave viewers on the edge of their seats, and was produced by Shane Simmons (When Jeff Tried to Save the World, Mercury in Retrograde) — another well-established Chicago actor and producer.

Cooney also started a Seed&Spark distribution campaign that has raised approximately $6,000 from over 100 supporters (six times the film’s original budget).

In regards to the film’s festival run and overall reception, Cooney remarks, “I had no idea people would enjoy this short or not. It ended up way surpassing my expectations.”

Runner has had six Chicago screenings, was an official selection in 15 film festivals — including the academy-qualifying Atlanta Film Festival, received 13 nominations — including Best Director (for feature or short) at the Midwest Independent Film Festival (MIFF), and won six awards – including Best of Fest at the Windy City International Film Festival and the Audience Award at the Chicago Critics Film Festival.

Shane Simmons
Shane Simmons

Among Chicago shorts, Runner already qualifies as a classic. The international distribution it receives with Omeleto is both well deserved and absolutely necessary. For any actor or filmmaker aspiring to make a really really good short film on a single-grand budget, Runner is required viewing.

Something that cannot be overstated is Runner’s tightness and rhythm, two qualities most short film’s struggle with. According to Cooney, the original cut was 17 minutes, but as the editor, she forced herself to “basically kill my darling” until it was “tighter, tighter, tighter.” She states, “For me its about rhythm.”

As for the tightness in the script, Cooney reveals, “To be honest, I am not actually a fan of backstories… I don’t plan what the character did the day before or what the character had for breakfast or where they went to college. That helps certain people. It doesn’t help me.”

Cooney admits, “I didn’t even tell Will (Allen) and Cassi (Schiano) what their relationship was or what they were fighting about… I gave them a couple ideas,” but ultimately, she let her actors make a lot of their own decisions. Perhaps because she is one herself, Cooney trusts her actors enough to give them the space to come up with their own dynamic, and she personally enjoys watching actors come to their own conclusions and make their own decisions.

Jason Chiu
Jason Chiu

This method allows for chemistry to grow naturally on set. She continues, “What matters for me is the moment taking place between two human beings on screen.”

That is the other thing Runner does with such efficacy. The connections between its characters are tangible. The space between them comes off screen and tugs at viewer’s emotions and anxieties. Cooney’s somewhat unconventional directing style paid off mightily.

After a long festival run filled with packed seats and stunned audiences, Cooney’s directorial debut is now ready to squeeze into smaller screens around the world.

Runner’s tight story, 13 minutes of magnetic performances, sweeping camera work, and unforgettable moments are now available on Omeleto.

For more information on Runner and Clare Cooney’s work, click here.

Contact Joey Filer at Joey@reelchicago.com or follow him on Twitter @FilerJoey.

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