Rundown, a 2007 Student Academy Award winning thriller, was directed by Patrick Alexander, a graduate student at Florida State University. The film follows Rachel Davenport through tragedy and success by coupling her involvement with a devastating hit and run with a sudden rise to the top as a news anchor. In an interview with FSU News, Alexander discussed the origins of his idea, citing a visit to his brother, who then worked at a television studio.
“All the attention — the lights and camera — was focused on one man: Ted Koppel. I thought that if I could craft a unique story that placed my protagonist in this type of hot seat, I would have a dramatic narrative on my hands.”
– Patrick Alexander on the idea for Rundown (read the full article here)
Alexander was exactly right in his assessment. The atmosphere of a high pressure, low prep time job allows for many of the films finest qualities. The concept that the protagonist is getting the news as she is reporting it adds to the tension, and keeps the audience guessing when it will be too much to handle. She must make quick decisions, even before shes on screen; as an anchor, the field is brutal. If she had taken time to think on the accident, her chance would be gone. What awaited her at the job, however, was not what she expected.
The way the film is shot forces the audience to pay close attention to the facial expressions of Davenport by consistently using close up shots of the actor’s face. This strategy is very effective, in my opinion. It allows the film to communicate the weight of each and every situation Rachel finds herself in without using much time. It also allows Alexander to convey the notion of a graphic ordeal without subjecting the audience to all the gory details, which, along with darkened peripherals, adds a bit to the suspense and mystery of the story as a whole.
Through this tactic, it almost allows the viewer to get inside the head of Rachel Davenport herself. At the moment of the hit and run, the two are brutally connected, so much so that she can hardly respond to a telephone call.
When Davenport arrives at the studio, the film begins to read as an anchor’s fight with herself as she attempts to keep her tragic mistake from compromising a job opportunity she desperately wants. Forced to report on her own crime, you see for yourself the multiple-personalities of the main character. At the start, she is solid on screen, broken off. As the news of her deeds worsen, you see in her eyes the struggle to keep the two separate, her broken off-screen persona slowing showing itself on screen. Then, breaking news. The baby is alive. The facade is shattered as her tears begin to flow.
In an ironic turn, her display of emotion toward a somber news story gains the appeal of a wide audience, granting Davenport her dream job. The film is a massive question of morality and the power of desire that raises several questions. Just how far will one person go to get what they want? Will Rachel Davenport be punished for her crime? Will she have the persistence to actually work a job that she earned through such ill means? Alexander hopes to make a point that the moral decision is often the better one to make, even if it leads to positive outcomes. Had Davenport stayed at the scene she would have never earned the job. The means by which the job was earned, however, likely destroy her aspirations or feelings of success. She is left as a broken woman with a job, rather than a responsible human being.
Film:<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/8104979″>Rundown</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user2774896″>Patrick Alexander</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>