“Bushwick,” the action thriller starring Dave Bautista and Brittany Snow, started making waves when it premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January 2017. Film buffs and writers have mostly zeroed in on the timely plot about a civil war breaking out in the United States on account of Texas seceding from the union.
We’ve been following the progress of this local, indie production for nearly two years. And naturally, we had a lot of questions for the directors who chose to set a battle of national importance in a relatively small Brooklyn neighborhood that most people outside of New York City haven’t heard of.
Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott say they chose Bushwick for a few strategic and personal reasons. For one, Milott said that “if there was a long siege, you could bring supplies through Newtown Creek” and that more densely populated neighborhoods and Manhattan would be harder to infiltrate right off the bat.
Milott and Murnion were both drawn to Bushwick as the kind of neighborhood where “if there was a civil war [here] people would fight back.” It also helps that Murnion lived in Bushwick for six years and fell in love with the somewhat unique blend of ultra-industrial and residential blocks especially around the edges of the neighborhood.
At the start of the film one of the main characters, Lucy (Brittany Snow), heads home to visit her grandmother who lives on the corner of Cypress and Willoughby Avenues, near the Ridgewood border. But when she emerges from the Jefferson stop, she finds the neighborhood thrown into chaos.
Murnion and Milott say that shooting this long take of Lucy’s entrance into Bushwick was an adventure in and of itself. For those who have shot anything out in public, you know that the biggest problems can sometimes come from trying to discourage passersby from walking into the shot or lingering near the set. This being Bushwick, it was a graffiti art tour that caused the biggest disruption. Murnion says, “they [the tour] had to go right through our shot.” And the only thing the production could do was wait.
The 18 day shoot used mostly locations in the neighborhood. For instance, the exterior of the church in the trailer is St. Aloysius Roman Catholic Church on Onderdonk Avenue and Stanhope Street, and the final sequence was shot in Grover Cleveland Park. Because many of the shots are long, uninterrupted takes (think “Children of Men”), you’ll be able to see quite a large portion of the blocks between the Jefferson and Dekalb stops on the L and beyond.
Of course, the pair often receive questions about the setting and scope of the project versus the scope of the larger problem the main characters find themselves mired in. Murnion emphasizes that the story represents “what it was like for one person [Lucy] to deal with a situation like that.” Milott adds that their original goal was to give a “sense of how quickly the world can change.”
In other words, the movie deals more with the misinformation that swirls around violent events and how individuals deal with it and does not provide an objective viewpoint regarding what the world would look like if Texas led a violent secession attempt.
You can watch the trailer below and see if you can spot some of your favorite haunts in any of the shots:
The film premieres in 50 theaters on August 25. No word yet on where you’ll be able to catch it close to home, but if you want to hear some music from the movie, Aesop Rock, the first-time composer and famous rapper in his own right, will be performing a concert at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on August 23.
Featured image still from “Bushwick.”