In the school-shooting thriller “Run, Hide, Fight,” the opening scene features a live deer that was actually shot and killed on camera. A producer tells the The Dallas Observer that American Humane, which monitors animal action on film sets, signed off on the shooting, but a spokesman for American Humane insists it did not.
In the opening scene of the film, stars Thomas Jane and Isabel May, who plays his daughter, go deer hunting. The Dallas Observer contains a detailed description of the scene in which the deer is killed, including the fact that the deer was already dead when we see the actress finish it off with a rock. (The scene helps establish that, when the school shooting that is the main focus of the film happens, her character is capable of taking on the shooters.)
The film is from Dallas-based production company Bonfire Legend (formerly known as Cinestate). It was written and directed by “Project Greenlight” alum Kyle Rankin and released through conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro’s subscription web site, The Daily Wire.
According to The Dallas Observer, the producers arranged for a professional hunter to kill the animal so they could film it.
Dallas Sonnier, the founder of Bonfire Legend, confirmed the deer was shot on camera and told the Observer that all hunting regulations from the the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Managed Lands Deer Program were followed. He says the meat from the dear was donated to a “local charity” and eaten. “SAG-AFTRA is aware of these details and confirmed no violations occurred, as this took place prior to the start of principal photography,” he responded.
He insists that “no animals were harmed for the sake of entertainment,” and so the film should qualify for American Humane’s approval. The phrase “No animals were harmed” is trademarked and given out by American Humane, aka Humane Hollywood, only to films that they monitor and which meet their standards for fair treatment of animals.
Mark Stubis, a spokesman for American Humane, does not agree that shooting a deer for the film was justified. “Animal abuse and cruelty are always wrong,” Stubis told the Observer. “We did not have our safety representatives present during filming. Harming any animal for entertainment’s sake is completely unacceptable and a serious violation of our Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Entertainment, the long-established standard for ethical and responsible filmmakers.”
Adam Dietrich, a production designer for the film told the Observer that previous Cinestate productions such as “The Standoff at Sparrow Creek” that contained hunting scenes used taxidermied animal props. He says he was “unsettled” that a real deer was used this time.
Make-up artist Madeleine Rose, who quit the film after learning of the shooting, said producer Adam Donaghey (who’s been dubbed the “Harvey Weinstein of Dallas” and in April 2020 was charged with the sexual assault of a child), tried to justify the shooting to her and “got very defensive.”
As Rose told the Observer, “He said they shot in an area of Texas where hunting was allowed because of overpopulation. Even if it is, from an ethical standpoint, it’s ridiculous to kill an animal for the purpose of movie-making. He told me I was with them or against them and wanted a makeup artist who would totally back their set.”
Traci Murdock, an animal talent agent who provided rats for a different scene, said she didn’t know that a live animal would be shot for the movie. “The whole thing just leaves a bad taste because part of my job is protecting animals. The whole concept of even thinking you would do this makes me uncomfortable.”
“Run, Shoot, Hide,” currently has a 25% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics not big on the “‘Die Hard’ in a school” concept after so many real-life school shootings.
Indiewire critic David Ehrlich gave it an F. Jonathan Romney of Screen International wrote: “An unapologetic old-school exploiter going full on for thrills and suspense, it’s undeniably polished and energetic, and features a couple of strong performances from young stars Isabel May and Eli Brown – but it feels fundamentally tasteless, indeed just plain wrong.”
In the positive column, Rob Hunter of Film School Rejects writes, “If you can stomach the premise and ignore the outside controversies, what you’ll find here is a highly satisfying little action movie.”