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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 08.31.17] action thriller

Bushwick is intense. The thriller stars Brittany Snow and Dave Bautista as strangers who find themselves working together when their neighbourhood is suddenly attacked. The pair are trying to make their way to safety through a war zone with little knowledge of how or why their world suddenly imploded into all out war for survival.

I had a chance to speak with directors Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott who have been working on this project for six years and even managed to keep it alive through directing their first feature film, the zombie comedy Cooties.

I was impressed by what Murnion and Milott achieved with Bushwick and was excited to speak to the pair about their action movie which, in additional to some impressive technical feats, also features great performances from both Snow and Bautista.

The transcript below is abridged and avoids spoilers for the movie but for a more in-depth discussion, be sure to check out the full audio of our conversation. The spoilers are mild but be forewarned that we do talk a little about the movie's plot.

Bushwick is now playing in limited theatrical release and is also available on VOD.

How did you become involved with the project?

Cary Murnion (CM): It was our idea. We've been working on this project for a little over six years. So we came up with the basic concept of the invasion of Brooklyn and we worked with the writers, both Graham and Nick, to write the script and worked with the producers at XYZ to produce it.

You've been working on this for 6 and the movie now, with the political climate, seems to have more resonance than it would have had had it come out 2 or 3 years ago. How does that sit with you guys?

CM: For us the movie is more of a cautionary tale. We thought of it as if people were to pick-up weapons and were this divided about things that this is a "what if." It's crazy that now we're seeing some of the actual results of some of that "what if" - not to the scale of our movie - but certainly some of the beginnings of that happening the last couple of weeks.

For us, because we've been tracking these type of stories since we've been writing this, it's not completely surprising that now we're at this point.

The whole genesis of this idea came to being in 2009 when Rick Perry, the former Governor or Texas, had a quote about what if Texas were to succeed from the United States. He kind of joked about it.

President Obama was in office so there was definitely some undercurrent of racism to some of those comments so the fact that now we're dealing with some of those same kind of feelings almost 10 years later, it's sad but not surprising.

Jonathan Milott (JM): Throughout our film careers and all the films we've worked on, we've always taken ideas and pushed them pretty. When we first thought of this idea we thought we'd take this thing that the Governor said and really push it to the limit and at first people thought it was a comedy and a real -

CM: Satire.

JM: So for us to take this crazy quote and turn it into a crazy idea which is now, almost 6 years later, is almost reality... like we were saying it's not really shocking to us because we've been following it the whole time but it is crazy considering that the genesis of our idea.

Did you always conceive of this as a single take approach to telling the story?

CM: Yeah, it was written that way. We really wanted to immerse the audience into Lucy's world and really have the audience feel and experience the same things she deals with.

JM: If you're going to do a one take or do these long takes, you do have to plan that in the script phase. You can't write it that you're going to cut to a parking lot 10 blocks away and then to the command station of the invaders so it was definitely written in that form from the start.

How long did you have to prepare for shooting and once the shooting started, how long did that process take?

CM: Because we lived in the area, John and I would walk through the neighbourhood so it was essentially years in planning. Once we started getting down to brass tax, there were some months where we would actually walk through with our camera, kind of film the path that we wanted to take. Then we'd go back with our cinematographer Lyle Vincent and walk through with him. At that point we didn't even have a start date.

When we actually started production, we had a week-and-a-half of rehearsals with the Dave Bautista and Brittany Snow and some of the key crew where we would go to the real locations and walk through the scene slowly and do a few camera passes.

In terms of actual shooting time, it was very short. It was only 15 days which is very short but because we had done so much preparation and didn't have to do coverage, it actually worked out.

JM: And one of the things that we've been hearing is that it reminds them of a video game and we hope that's more in the sense that you really feel that you're in the situation versus just the idea of the camera following a character because we did use a lot of cinematic techniques just without cutting. So we would move the camera, place the camera and move in ways that were hopefully telling the story cinematically and not just like a video game.

How did you guys come to work with Lyle Vincent? Was he always your first choice for cinematographer?

CM: Lyle shot Cooties which is our first feature film. We'd also shot some commercials with Lyle and we'd seen all of these different things he could do. He doesn't have a certain style which is amazing. He can do anything. So when it came to Bushwick right away we went to Lyle and he jumped right in.

He was the one that came to us with the idea of using the MoVI for the whole film which have been used for commercials, shorts and pieces of TV shows and short films but never for a full feature.

The Alexa Mini was just coming out at that point. So for the first time we could use a good digital camera on the MoVI. We did a lot of firsts.

JM: A lot of the shots are the kind of thing you'd expect form a bigger budget Hollywood action movie where they're using more expensive equipment like a technocrane but for us, we'd have to really plan and be really strategic about how to use the limited crew.

I was really impressed by your leads. How did you come to cast Brittany Snow and Dave Bautista?

CM: We wanted the character of Lucy to be this perfect, polished college student coming home to see her grandmother on Thanksgiving and to put that kind of character in this really strange situation and see how she would react to that. Brittany Snow had already kind of played that character in Pitch Perfect and here we put that character though an invasion and see how that character would react.

The amount of emotions that she had to go through... for an actress to experience all of those emotions is very hard to do but she jumped at the opportunity. She wanted to challenge herself. It was almost like we were shooting a live play on the street. She prepared as if it was a play, that we would continue for 10 minutes in these extended scenes of very high emotional peaks.

JM: With Dave we did the same thing. We subverted what people know of Dave as a wrestler and big action movies like Guardians of the Galaxy where he's this big, violent action hero but we wanted to make it so that this guy doesn't want to be an action hero and we follow that through his arc in the story and resolve it in a way that is very much the antithesis of a normal action hero character's arc.

What do you guys have up next?

CM: There are two films which I think are closest. One is an LA heist film that takes place on the 101 in LA and there's a lot of double and triple crossing going on. And then we have a monster film that we've been developing with XYZ who worked with us on Bushwick. It's called Neon and it’s based on a mythical Chinese monster. We're doing an updated version of this monster where the monster chases a mother and son from China to Alaska.

JM: And we have one that we're still working on how to describe it. You're the first person we've told this to so you tell us if it sounds interesting: a contemporary neo-noir, post-western black comedy detective story.

You had me an neo-noir!

Bushwick is now playing in limited theatrical release and is also available on VOD.

Recommended Release: Cooties

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Cletus (4 years ago) Reply

Read a bunch of negative reviews. Watched the movie. Better than most of the big screen so-called blcokbuster crap. A satisfying and timely effort by everyone.


fendell (4 years ago) Reply

Liberal wet dream nonsense.


zaphod777 (4 years ago) Reply

Mediocre shite

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