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September 2017

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Page 11 of 43 10 POST SEPTEMBER 2017 DIRECTOR'S CHAIR o call brothers Josh and Benny Safdie "hands-on" filmmakers is definitely an understatement, as the directing team not only also co-wrote and co-edited their new film Good Time, and even had a hand in the sound, but Benny also stars as a movie brother oppo- site Robert Pattinson. Following their cinema verite, Heaven Knows What and its unblinking look at the New York City heroin subculture, the Safdies return to the mean streets of New York City for Good Time. They take viewers through an unpredict- able and hypnotic crime thriller that explores with bracing immediacy the tragic sway of family and fate. After a botched bank robbery lands his men- tally-challenged younger brother Nick (Benny Safdie) in prison, Constantine "Connie" Nikas (Pattinson) embarks on a twisted odyssey through the City's underworld in an increasingly desper- ate — and dangerous — attempt to get Nick out of jail. Over the course of one adrenalized night, Connie finds himself racing against the clock to save his brother and himself, knowing both their lives hang in the balance. Anchored by a career-defining perfor- mance from Pattinson, and co-starring Academy Award-nominee Jennifer Jason Leigh as his flaky girlfriend, Good Time is a symphony of propulsive intensity crafted by two of the most exciting young directors working today. In the tradition of '70s urban thrillers- by Sidney Lumet, William Friedkin and Martin Scorsese (who is producing their next film, the Diamond District thrill- er Uncut Gems), the film creates an au- thentic tapestry of indelible faces, places and moods, playing out over the course of a single unforgettable night — moving from jails and hospitals to private homes and a shuttered amusement park. Behind the camera, the Safdies also assembled a stellar team of collaborators that included cinematographer Sean Price Williams, co-editor Ronald Bronstein, pro- duction design Sam Lisenco and sound mixer Patrick Southern. Here, in an exclusive interview with Post, the Safdies, whose credits also include Daddy Longlegs, Lenny Cooke and The Pleasure of Being Robbed, talk about making the film and their love of post. What sort of film did you set out to make? Josh Safdie: "A piece of pulp, a thriller that actually thrilled, with no artifice, where it feels like people can actually get in trou- ble and there might be real violence and casualties. And by mixing first-time actors and non-professionals with veterans, we were able to get a lot of that feel to it. And we wanted to make something unex- pected but very entertaining, where you watch and go, 'What was that?'" This is your first 'star-driven' movie. Is it true that Rob Pattinson first approached you about the project? Benny Safdie: "Yes, he saw a still photo from Heaven Knows What, and said he was so transfixed by the image that he wanted to work with us. He contacted us through a friend, and that's how it happened." He and Jennifer are very experienced actors. Were they open right away to working with all the first-time actors and non-professionals in the cast? JS: "Rob was thrilled by the idea of working with people who were playing versions of themselves at times, as our initial talk with him was about shooting a film with him and Buddy Duress, who starred in Heaven Knows What,' and he was so moved by Buddy in that. But Jennifer was a very late addition to the cast. I pitched her by writing a very de- tailed character back story, and it was so interesting to her that she felt she could go anywhere with it. Then she has this great scene with a real bail bondsman, and she loved the idea of doing it with the real people in the real location." How does it work on the set in terms of co-directing? JS: "On a technical level, I'll place the camera and work with that, while Benny works with the sound and actually runs the boom." BS: "It's all to do with removing a tech- nician from that job, as I'm also co-di- recting and getting that much closer to the action. You see different parts of a performance that way. We have each other's backs and are able to always put our heads together and get a really full picture of what's going on, on the set. And if one of us talks to somebody, it's always coming from both of us. We've been working together since we were kids, and we have a huge amount of trust in each other, as there are times when I'm in the movie and just have to let go, and know that Josh is there to catch it all." This was all shot on-location, in Queens. Fair to say the borough functions as another main character? JS: "Absolutely. Whenever I travel, I've al- ways loved seeing the places that aren't advertised. I don't look at travel books and brochures and the latest hot spots. And we grew up in Queens, which is one of the most diverse communities in the world, which has always fascinated me. As a kid, my best friends were Russian and Korean and Jewish and Latino and so on — this big melting pot — and this weird mix of people and cultures can ac- tually tell you more about an area than anything else." What were the main challenges of pulling all this together and how tough was the shoot? BS: "It was a 37-day shoot, with an average of 13-hour days, so it was very tight, and the whole budget was under $10 million. The big challenge was getting all the loca- tions and scenes we needed in that time." THE SAFDIE BROTHERS: GOOD TIME BY IAIN BLAIR T DIRECTING DUO ON GETTING HANDS-ON FOR THEIR NEW FILM Josh (left) and Benny (right) Safdie on-set.

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