A conversation with running filmmaker Dylan Harris about his experience making the film "Lucy's Dad."
If you followed the Western States Endurance Run in June of this year, there’s a strong likelihood you heard a mention of “Lucy’s Dad” taking on the race. The Lucy in question is Australian professional ultrarunner Lucy Bartholomew, who has toed the line at Western States herself three times, taking third at the prestigious event in 2018. In 2023, it was her dad Ash’s turn. Filmmaker Dylan Harris had been assigned by Salomon to make a short film of Ash’s attempt and his family coming together to support it. But even before arriving at the event, Dylan began to realize that this story would be bigger than any of them had thought.
The film that came together is breathtaking and reaches into the heart of trail running; there if finds family, community, grit, determination and everything it takes to persevere through the most challenging of moments. After previewing the film, I hopped on the phone with Dylan to talk about his experience in making it. One of my favorite quotes from this conversation was when Dylan told me that, “Making a film is a lot like running 100 miles, it’s a feat of endurance.”
Q: Tell me about yourself, how’d you end up making beautiful running films like this?
A: My name is Dylan Harris, I’m a photographer and filmmaker based in the American Southwest. Since the beginning, I’ve been interested in capturing the human experience within the outdoors. After many years of focusing on only photography, I couldn’t avoid the power of film any longer. Not long after pursuing video, I took a job under Jamil Coury (with Aravaipa Running) making short films within his sphere of his races, and the rest is history. The goal is always to tell stories, and there’s no more powerful way to do that than through video.
Q: Tell me what the film is about?
A: Ash Bartholomew, better known in some circles as Lucy’s Dad, is a father and runner based in Melbourne, Australia. Ever since crewing his daughter, professional runner Lucy Bartholomew, to a 3rd place finish at the iconic Western States 100 mile Endurance Run in 2018, it’s been his obsession to run the race himself. This film gives an intimate look into the Bartholomew family dynamic, and provides profound insight into what is truly important not only in running but in life, as they chase Ash’s dream together.
Q: Why did you want to make this film about Ash?
A: The concept of this film comes directly from Lucy Bartholomew, herself. This film is really a reflection of her and her dad’s connection to this race. Lucy’s sponsor Salomon presented this project to me, and I was immediately intrigued to work on a story outside of the elite pack of runners that famously exists at Western States. I go into every project with the intention to find the most powerful story, but that being said, the way in which this particular film’s story unfolded was beyond any of our imaginations.
Q: What impacted you most being there with Ash and his crew during Western States?
A: I was impacted deeply by the coming together of the Bartholomew family after 8 years apart. Together, they were intending to help their dad become a Western States finisher, but during the journey they discovered that there were more meaningful takeaways than just being awarded a finishers belt buckle. Having a front row seat to watch all of this unfold will stay with me for a long time to come.
Q: What do you hope that viewers will take away after watching Ash’s story?
A: I hope the film is a reminder to be present to small victories during the pursuit of large goals. There are takeaways from every scenario. The biggest thing you can do is pursue something with the best of intentions and give it your all. Be open to finding out what it all means later. Success can be defined in so many different ways.
More from Dylan: spiritofdylan.com