Interview with director Raynor Arkenbout (RUN FREE)

Raynor Arkenbout’s short film “RUN FREE” played to raves reviews at the February 2017 Romance FEEDBACK Film Festival. It was an honor chatting with him about his short film and what’s next.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

It’s a story that originated from two sources that interested me a lot. One was my own grandfather who, during his time in the war, traveled from Amsterdam to the rural part of the Netherlands when there was a big scarcity on food in the capitol. He told me about his time there in the country that was also still under jurisdiction of the Nazis and to me this was the perfect setting for a smaller and more personal story in one of the most defining times of recent history. I wanted to tell a story about romance, but romance through the eyes of a crude Dutch kid from Amsterdam. One that didn’t say ‘I love you’ by saying those words, but by using a phrase like ‘I knew I wanted to see you naked, right then and there.’ To him, that’s the highest form of flattery and I loved writing about romance in that fashion. Through those eyes, in that setting. To me it made sense and it made for something different than all the other stories about World War 2.

I guess that I felt that the people, just like my grandfather, deserved stories like this about that time. Apart from all the films that show the harsh and terrible side of the war and all its atrocities, I wanted to give a voice to the hope that could sometimes sprout in the most unlikeliest of characters.

From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

The film took about 5 months to complete, where the first conception of the idea was actually quite late in the process. The film was to be my graduate project and my first two ideas were either rejected or I threw it out, but the whole production process had already started. So that meant that I lost a lot of my development time for the idea. Thankfully, when inspiration hit, I wrote the entire voice-over (or better said, the letter) in fifteen minutes and it became the backbone of the film.

How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Crude, Romantic 🙂

What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Especially the music was a big journey for me and the composer. I loved the idea of making the film very a-chronological in its style. So a story from the 1940s with characters that seemed to come out of the 2000s and with punkrockish music from the 90s. That was at least the original idea. But when we started post-production, I wanted to experiment with this retro 80s kind of music with synths which would make the stylistic choice more prominent. I wanted to be very careful because this choice could affect the entire experience for the viewer. Would it still suck the audience in emotionally? Will it make people too aware they are watching a film? Did it put in the wrong questions for the viewer? I was really scared to go for this choice but my composer assured me that it worked. In the end, I’m very glad he pushed me and supported the idea till the very end. It achieves a very unique feel for the film and accomplishes, I think, what I wanted it to do. To make the film feel universal in its timeframe and themes. In the end it’s about love and that’s a story that can be understood in any setting or time.

What were your initial reactions when watching the Toronto audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

The feedback video was so exciting to watch. I’m always anxious of what people think of the film as it feels very personal, so to have a video of an audience that have no inhibitions to tell what they thought or felt about, is really good. I thought the reaction was very positive and very earnest. This is why I love making films, to make people connect with or react to the story underneath.

AUDIENCE FEEDBACK VIDEO of the short film:

How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

The other big part of the original idea was a song by a certain songwriter that found the letters of his grandparents that were sent to different camps. They wrote to each other in the camps and the singer used some of those texts for his lyrics. I loved the harshness and genuine feel of that song, which was punkrock, hence the original idea for the musical score, so I used that as a big inspiration for my main character.

. What film have you seen the most in your life?

I must’ve seen Fight Club about thirty times now and for some reason, that one just hits me deep within my core, but I think I will never truly understand why!

What is next for you? A new film?

Right now I’m working on a few things, but I’d love to make one more romantic short film as a sort of closure to a short film trilogy about love and connection. But for now, time will only tell what my next project will be!



Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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