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Interview: Catching up with RUNNER actor/writer/director Clare Cooney

April 23, 2019



It’s hard to believe my previous interview with multi-talented Clare Cooney was a year ago. In anticipation of her award-winning short, “Runner”, screening at the Chicago Critics Film Festival last May, I chatted with her about the short, from concept to release. It’s probably hard to believe because I’ve seen Cooney around and talked to her since then, while keeping track on the status of “Runner”. In that interview, I made it a point to ask where and when her short could be seen by curious viewers. At that time, it was still working the festival circuit, but now “Runner” is about to find it’s widest audience yet. On Tuesday, April 23rd, the short will be released on a curated YouTube channel for short films called Omeleto.

Once I learned of that great news, I figured now was an appropriate time to briefly catch up with the always busy Cooney. It’s always a joy to talk with Cooney. In person or online, her enthusiasm is evident. We recently engaged in another IM chat to discuss this long-distance journey she’s been on with “Runner”. You can find that conversation below and immediately following that I’ll post a link where you can find “Runner”.




DAVID J. FOWLIE: Hey there! I’m ready now, if you are…

CLARE COONEY: Hey, awesome! ready! 🙂

DJF: Indulge me with a refresher (for those just joining us) – when did you make “Runner” and how long was the shoot?

CC: Our first shoot day was for forever ago — Halloween 2016. Then our second shoot date was January 2017. So just two days total. We had our rough of the film in February 2017. We didn’t picture-lock til probably around April/May 2017, though. 

DJF: Did you ever think you’d still be “running” with this short?

CC: I definitely didn’t! It’s unreal. Our festival “run” (once you start the run puns, you can’t stop) was almost a year and a half. I stopped applying to festivals because I felt like the run was over and I was ready to put it online, but the devil’s in the details — there were several small changes that happened over the last 3 months. So, prepping for the release took a bit.

DJF: It’s hard to believe that was your run since it feels like an awareness of “Runner” has never ended, and rightly so. What kind of “small changes” occurred within the last three months?

CC: Well, I had to get the music rights to a very important song for the film. That process took 9 months. And then we replaced two of the songs in the film, so finding great replacements took some time. And then there were small sound design things that I had always been wanting someone to take a look at (our first pass at sound design was extremely quick, and for festival sound only). Also, in order to secure music licensing and final sound and score, we did a Seed & Spark, as you know and several delightful people came on board as executive producers or co-executive producers, so that required us to add some new credits, etc. The last few weeks of detail-heavy work has been tiring, but it’s all worth it. The version of the film we sent to Omeleto (the youtube channel programming us) is my DREAM version of the film. I’m so excited it’s the version I get to share online.

DJF: Whew! All of this was with the ultimate goal of releasing it to a widest possible audience. How did you determine that YouTube’s Omeleto was the best place for it?

CC: A lot of times short films just disappear — there’s just so much content out there — so I wanted to make sure we released through a channel that had a large built-in subscriber base. Omeleto had really beautiful curation and a very large fan base, so it was the best of both worlds. I’m not interested in making money from it. I was more interested in the widest possible audience seeing it.

DJF: Will it live forever on Omeleto?

CC: For at least a few years. Our initial music rights last 5 years. we have the option to renew. We’ll see. I also might upload it to other channels (like Vimeo) because Omeleto isn’t exclusive, which I think is a wonderful thing. But for our release, they seemed like the folks that could help us make the biggest splash.

DJF: Can you talk a little more about Omeleto, for those (like me) who know nothing about it. Is there a fee for it?

CC: No! Totally free! It’s literally just Youtube. Just a curated channel on Youtube! Totally free. They don’t own the film, they just pick short good films and give them a great platform. We applied, and we didn’t know if we’d get accepted or not, but 24 hours later they said they’d love to include RUNNER on their Youtube channel. It was such a relief.

DJF: Excellent! I’m sure readers will be interested in knowing what else you’ve been doing during this marathon run, can you touch on what other plates you’ve been spinning and where viewers can see your work (acting/writing/directing) next?

CC: Yeah! A lot has happened since we last chatted… it’s been almost exactly one year!

DJF: I just realized that before we started this chat. It probably doesn’t seem that long ago, because I’ve seen you around here and there.

CC: The film that I was making last time we talked, “Abi”, is about to go to its first festival. It’ll be having its world premiere at Crypticon Seattle in May. I play the title role in that film. I also was a lead in Michael Smith’s most recent film, “Rendezvous in Chicago”, which just had a nice run at the Gene Siskel. That’ll be playing again at Chicago Filmmaker on Saturday, May 4th.

NOTE: Yours truly will be moderating a Q&A following that “Rendezvous in Chicago” event. Details here.

DJF: I’ll certainly be checking out “Abi” very soon, since I’ve already talked to your director about it.

CC: For folks who know my voice pretty well, I was in the Steve McQueen film WIDOWS. I’m in the very last scene. They ended up not using my close up so you only see a flash of my nose and the back of my head, but you hear me!
And then I also had a nice turn on Chicago PD. In the directing world, I directed a pilot called “Dad Man Walking” that is now picture-locked and we’re applying to festivals now. And there are a couple other scripts (some written by others, and a couple in the works written by me) that I hope to be in pre-production on soon. I think that’s about it! 🙂

DJF: That’s it? That’s a lot! When’s the last time you took a break and had some rejuvenation time?

CC: That’s coming up in…..3 days! Honestly RUNNER has been my baby. It’s going to feel very weird releasing it to the world. Very good. And a very much needed release.

DJF: Good! Well, I’m not surprised YouTube responded so quickly and positively. “Runner” is a short that warrants multiple views and indepth conversations, with themes and visuals that linger long after viewing. I’m happy for you, but also for the views it will now get! So, congrats to that!

CC: Thanks! Hopefully we get a good response. The Chicago community has been incredibly supportive of the film, so I’m hoping filmmaker and friends share the film far and wide.

DJF: Enjoy your break and I’m sure we’ll see each other around!


“Runner” is avail. now on Omeletto. Just click here. 

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