directed by Peter Yates
Run of the Country was the second film I worked on with director Peter Yates. It’s subject matter was the claustrophobic and stifling atmosphere of a small Irish town. Compositionally
we felt that the 2:35 anamorphic frame would reinforce the “walls” (metaphorical and physical) that stifled our protagonist Danny. We shot in County Cavan well known for having every kind of weather all in the same day. To maintain continuity Peter prepared the cast, and I the unit , for the eventuality of switching between scenes during the shooting day as rain alternated with sun and overcast conditions. Everybody got behind the idea and “second guessing the weather” became a unit pasttime.
It was total location shoot and some of the interiors were very very cramped but we tried not to let that stifle our aesthetic ambitions. The combination of wider angles and 2:35 were a lighting challenge but it gave the actors a dimensional stage within which to play.
Some of the exterior night scenes had to be shot dusk for night for budgetry reasons (something I have done recently again in “U B Dead”) . Peter and I took an early decision to use “blue” moonlight in lit night scenes to match. I added a little green in timing to take the curse of the blue.
I was particularly happy with the “scuzzy” atmosphere of the pub fight with harsh flourescent lit bar areas being the main source of light.
There’s a lot of landscape in the movie and we wanted to both set our actors within and against it without romanticising it . A good example is the cockfight (no animals were harmed etc.). It’s a brutal scene and we didnt want to shy away from that. I used smoke to desaturate, when sunny, and edged faces with cold hard light when overcast. The drowning scene in the peat bog was a tough shoot.. Safety was a primary concern and Phillip Sindall did a magnificent job with a hand held Panaflex. It took 3 days to shoot and we battled hard to maintain lighting continuity as the sun alternated with cloud and not cramp Peter and Phillip with lighting units. It’s a film of contrasts, like life it has it moments of lyricism as well as tragedy, sadness and anger.