by Anthony Frajman

Struggling with trauma, she becomes haunted by the increasingly disturbing behaviour of her daughter. Its director, West-Australian-born Reid, is one of Australia’s busiest TV directors in the US, having helmed The Handmaid’s Tale, Apple series Shining Girls and the Steve Carell series Space Force.

Reid says she was drawn instantly to the film, seeing it as a chance to explore the difficulties of motherhood on screen in a way which was grounded and realistic.

“For me, motherhood is just screaming to be explored, because we are sold motherhood in a certain way. Mothers are depicted in a certain way. When I became a mother, you’d look at women walking down the street with their prams, they all look like they’re born to it and it’s all happy. And suddenly, you have a baby, and you go, ‘whoop, I’m really good at it, and now I’m a mother’. I don’t think that’s the case. It’’ a really, really confronting difficult thing and the conflicting emotions that go on when you become a parent and your self-doubt and all that is so challenging. It really fascinated me to explore that extreme kind of vulnerability of what is happening to your child,” Reid says.

While the film was originally planned to re-team Reid with her Shining Girls star Elisabeth Moss, the Mad Men/Handmaid’s Tale actress was replaced by Adelaide-born Succession star, Sarah Snook. Reid says working with Snook was one of the highlights of making the film and her career in general.

“All the things that you can give to her and what she’ll then find… She’s also just a fun person to be around as well.

“We were handling some pretty dark material. There’s a scene that’s no longer in the film, but we were all down the beach and she had to do a big swim. I turned around and she’s like a kid. She’s running away from the waves and running into the waves and running away like she’s 10 years old.”

For Reid, who has roots in comedy, having gotten her start as a Pauline Hanson impersonator on the sketch comedy series Full Frontal, directed episodes of Jimeoin, and more recently Young Rock, getting the chance to work in a contrasting genre was a challenge that she relished.

“I came outta it and I went, ‘oh, that’s why I was a comedy actor (laughs). I was in comedy (at the start of my career) and I think I was trying to avoid it. I really like to swap between the two. And I like to do one and then the other. So, it’s good for my own mental health to go, ‘I’ve done that and now I’m gonna come out and make a few jokes, and just keep hopping in between genres.”

Another element of Run Rabbit Run that Reid enjoyed, was working with first time actor Lily LaTorre, who plays Snook’s character’s haunted daughter Mia. Snook played a key role in guiding LaTorre to be comfortable on screen, helping her navigate fairly dark material.

“It was very family-like, taking care of Lily. Sarah and Lily became a real team. And she and Sarah played the whole way through it. Obviously, we’re not shooting all (of her scenes) at one time. We didn’t do lots of tough scenes each day. We did one and find a way through it. For example, with the the scissors scene, which contains gore, it’s very much ‘your hand goes here, and hand goes there, and hand goes there’,” Reid explains.

“She would come and watch the monitor with me, interested in the whole process. And, when she wasn’t in the scene, she watched what was happening.”

Surprisingly, for Reid, the process of making Run Rabbit Run on home soil, with an Australian cast and crew, was very similar to shooting US series like Handmaid’s Tale and Shining Girls.

“The process is the same. It is a very similar kind of experience, really, it’s budgets that make a difference. So, obviously, there was a good budget on The Handmaid’s Tale, so you can ask for pretty much anything. But, we did well on Run Rabbit Run as well. There isn’t really much difference for me as far as process goes,” Reid says.

“With those two, they’re quite similar in a way because there is a genre filter through both shows. The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian future. Run Rabbit Run, child says she’s someone else, is it reincarnation? So, there is a filter like that through both pieces, but within, it is very, very grounded and real. That’s why The Handmaid’s Tale is so successful, because it was a real world that something happened in. There’s nothing in The Handmaid’s Tale that hasn’t happened in the real world. All the things that happened to those people are happening to people now, or in the past. So, in a sense, there’s a real similarity between those pieces in the fact that the performances are really grounded and true, and the reactions are real and as human as we can possibly make them.”

 Run Rabbit Run premieres on Netflix Wednesday 28 June.