Run Hide Fight, the first feature length film co-produced and distributed by The Daily Wire, is not for the faint of heart. The film, written and directed by Kyle Rankin, takes an unflinching look at an emotionally and politically charged topic that has too often dominated headlines, particularly in the years since Columbine. The success of a film focused on a school shooting largely depends on the lead’s ability to carry the weight of such an intense and consequential event. Isabel May — just a teen herself when she was powering through the demanding production pace — proved, like the character she played, fully capable of meeting the moment.
The film — which was blacklisted by North American distributors until The Daily Wire partnered with Dallas-based filmmakers Dallas Sonnier and Amanda Presmyk — follows Zoe Hull, a 17-year-old high school senior who recently lost her mother and whose relationship with her still grieving father (played by Thomas Jane) is teetering on the edge. As we learn in the opening of the film, Zoe has been raised by her veteran dad to handle herself, and a gun, but she’s also clearly struggling to deal with the emotional trauma of her mother’s untimely death. On the way to school, Zoe and her best friend (Olly Sholotan) catch a foreboding glimpse of some suspicious behavior by a classmate. The much-anticipated “Senior Day” at their high school soon erupts into chaos and tragedy when four of Zoe’s schoolmates take command of the school’s cafeteria, where they hold dozens of their fellow students captive. Their goal: inflicting mass carnage and gaining mass fame.
While Zoe finds herself with the option to run and hide, she soon faces the sobering realization that she is in a unique position to save lives — a decision that ends up requiring her to fight.
What May found most appealing about Zoe’s character, she told me, was her “complexity” and “courage.”
“It was an interesting challenge to walk this fine line: an otherwise normal teenage girl dropped into an overwhelming and terrifying ordeal,” she explained. “Zoe, to me, represented the countless real people who were courageous enough to do something and often unrecognized for it.”
While the details of their lives are quite different, May said, she found it easy to relate to the general context of Zoe’s situation: “the era of school shootings, the drills and the uncertainties.”
Asked about the physical challenges of starring in an action film — a dramatic shift from her Netflix sitcom, “Alexa & Katie” — May said she actively sought to take on “as much as I could safely do, which was quite a lot.”
“I practiced shooting, so I knew how to properly handle a weapon,” said May, who noted that she is not a hunter like Zoe. “But falling through a ceiling was beyond my expertise. Fortunately for me, that was reserved for an incredible stuntwoman, Kamryn Poole.”
To help keep the film grounded in the grim reality of such situations, mass shooting expert John Matthews consulted on set during filming. Asked what it was like working with experts in the field and how it impacted her performance, May said it was “incredibly informative and revealing.”
“I did my own extensive research, but to speak with someone who has conversed with so many victims of something so horrific gives you a perspective that is as paralyzing as it is informative,” she explained. “He offered so much depth into behavior during a shooting that I otherwise would have had no awareness of. I believe it contributed to the performance, but ultimately, as in real life, those facts fade away and what becomes more fundamental for the character is survival instinct.”
Run Hide Fight is a gripping, moving, excellent film. It’s also inherently controversial and polarizing. Asked why people should watch it, May maintained that the film’s most important function is to get people — no matter where they fall on the ideological and political spectrum — talking.
“The hope is that the film may create a dialogue between those ideologically opposed or those like-minded,” she said. “Either way, anyone can have a discussion about it.”
The Daily Wire premiered Run Hide Fight on Thursday Jan. 14 and released the movie a day later for Daily Wire members to exclusively watch online anytime at dailywire.com.
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