Cary Murnion and Jon Milott have teamed up to direct Bushwick, an action movie about a Texas army that invades the Brooklyn neighborhood. Starring Brittany Snow and Dave Bautista, it was one of two Bushwick-set films that clocked some buzz at Sundance back in February (the other one, The Incredible Jessica James, will have a Rooftop Films screening on July 25, and will be streaming on Netflix July 28. With the trailer for Buswhick out earlier this week (it hits theaters Aug. 25), we caught up with the busy directors to talk about the film, politics and why Bushwick?
Cary Murnion: The easy answer is that I was living there. I loved the neighborhood and it’s a melting pot of all different kinds of people and it goes from this very strict industrial looking area to a place of the arts pretty quickly so I loved the visual of Bushwick. And then we started thinking of this idea of a civil war. There’s a little waterway that comes in from the East River right into Bushwick. So strategically, it could be a good spot to land and have access to things. It all kind of fit into the political part of it, the strategic part of it and also the social part of it.
Murnion: We filmed right on my street, practically. And it was kind of fun to go back there for a couple of weeks. The people there are so nice. It wasn’t at all this feeling of “you’re coming into our neighborhood.”
Jon Milott: The only one kind of New York moment was at 4am when we were prepping a scene in a back alley and there needed to be smashed cars. But they brought in cars that weren’t smashed yet so they’re like, “Do you guys want to smash it up?” Of course I grabbed the crowbar and jumped on the hood and started smashing it and I’m screaming and then some dude starts yelling. We were just in the moment so we didn’t think that, oh, everyone is sleeping still, but this guy was ready to kill.
Murnion: We were wondering if he was going to come back to the window with a gun or something.
Milott: It was terrifying. But it was completely our fault. My fault. Completely mine.
Milott: The coolest thing was location scouting. A lot of times location scouting is you’re just looking for a normal house or something. We went into the most eclectic, crazy, people that have lived there for years, hoarders.
Murnion: One woman had ducks.
Milott: Cats, ducks. And a pigeon, a dog. There were so many animals. But we did find one place that was so amazing and you just couldn’t design a set like this.
Murnion: Yeah, a lot of great locations around there. People have been living there for generations. You get that authenticity there.
Milott: The house we filmed in, that was pretty impressive. Someone probably just bought it and completely renovated it for a million bucks.
Milott: I think the craziest part was the day before we started shooting was the Paris terrorist attacks and there was, on the news, all these pictures of guys running around with guns and black uniforms, which were our soldiers uniforms. It was almost like you look at the news and you see these guys sniping on the street and then you look out in Bushwick and see these guys running around with guns. We were worried we would get shut down by the city and that people would be scared.
Murnion: It’s funny because things have switched where there was the Calexit thing for a little bit after Trump became president. It’s the left side that wants to leave rather than the south.
Milott: We purposefully tried not to. There were some suggestions, like let’s put in news clips of the election and things like that and it was like no because if we put that in then it becomes very dated.
Murnion: The idea of us versus them is something that’s always been there. We wanted to feel like you could watch this 10 years from now and not feel like: “Oh, the Trump thing.”
Milott: And for us it’s great because it’s not your traditional independent-film festival circuit where you’re trying to get it bought because we were pretty much bought right away at Sundance. All those other festivals that we’ve been to were more just sharing it with people and just being able to enjoy it rather than being in a business mode.
Milott: It’s kind of a self reflective mirror of how stupid it kind of is. The politics are going down a road that it’s not getting better. How far are we going to take it?