Director Antoine Fuqua didn’t grow up in Brooklyn. And he didn’t grow up in South Central L.A., where his other cop drama, Training Day, takes place. He grew up in Pittsburgh, and got his first taste of filming when a TV production moved into his neighborhood. According to Brooklyn’s Finest producer John Thompson, Mr. Fuqua went to the set every day, hanging around and figuring out what the different jobs were, and how things were done. He said to himself, I could do that.
Four teenagers from the Brownsville neighborhood where much of Brooklyn’s Finest is being shot are getting a similar chance to learn about filmmaking, but they’re not just hanging around the set: they’re actually being mentored by Mr. Fuqua. Mr. Fuqua chose four kids, based on their essays, to participate in the Fuqua Youth Film Program. They received high-tech camera equipment and instruction on how to use it, and were given assignments to complete. They got to meet with Ethan Hawke and Mr. Fuqua, and have been on the set learning how movies get made.
Below are three of the four participants in the Fuqua Youth Film Program. Shown L-R: Bryan Martin, Ethan Hawke, Lea-Sym Feyjoo, Antoine Fuqua, and Terrell Brown (not pictured: Marcus Underwood). [Photo credit: Phil Caruso]
Everyone Filming In Brooklyn spoke with was really excited about this program. They all wanted to give something back to the community that has embraced this production.
Mr. Fuqua was especially enthusiastic about giving back to the community, and about the importance of filming this movie in Brooklyn. Mr. Fuqua was able to take a few minutes during a break in shooting and speak with Filming In Brooklyn.
FIB: You could build a bodega set, and you could build a small apartment on a soundstage, and have complete control of the environment. Why was it so important for you to get into the actual spaces?
Antoine Fuqua: Well, it’s the details. You can’t build the details. You can try but you can’t really capture the details of the people, of the energy…It affects how I film, it affects the actors’ behavior, when you’re in the real environment, when you really can interact with the people who live here, it makes a big difference in what comes off emotionally on the screen.
FIB: And do you find that the crowds that gather to watch you, are they ever a distraction, or do they really just juice everybody up?
Antoine Fuqua: I mean they’re both, honestly, they’re both. They’re a good distraction. They’re always going to be a distraction because there’s some people who you’re getting in the way of their everyday life, and that’s to be expected. They’re just trying to go to work, or take care of their business. And we’re really in the way. But they juice everybody up because the majority of the people so far have been amazing. They’ve just been helpful and excited about it, you know, really cheering us on out here. And I’ve had a lot of guys come up to me and say, keep doing what you’re doing, thank you for shooting here, really appreciative. So, it’s been great.
FIB: The four teens that you gave the cameras to, are you going to follow that long-term? Are you going to see what they’re doing with those down the road?
Antoine Fuqua: Yeah, we’ll follow them long-term, absolutely. I mean, I did the same thing in the jungle, in South Central [L.A.] when I did Training Day. I took some guys with me and one of them went on and did the documentary Bastards of the Party, it was on HBO that I produced, and a few others been in a couple movies, so I always follow through with these guys. I like to stay in touch, see how they do. That’s part of the reason I’m here is to hopefully inspire other young people who don’t get to see it that often. Maybe they could find a love of filmmaking.
FIB: You’ve said about Training Day that L.A. was a character in the movie. Do you feel the same the way about Brooklyn?
Antoine Fuqua: One-hundred percent.
FIB: Could this have been done anywhere else?
Antoine Fuqua: No. Trust me, I’ve had financiers say, well, could you shoot it in Detroit? Or could you shoot it in Canada? I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t have done the movie. I would not have done the movie.
[At this point in the interview, Mr. Fuqua had to pause, because all sorts of commotion had broken out next to us, at the red light. A car was blaring hip-hop music, and as soon as the light turned green and that sound faded, it was replaced by an angry driver swearing and honking his horn repeatedly, trying to move along the drivers who had slowed down to see what all the people and lights and cameras were doing there under the El tracks.]
Antoine Fuqua: See? You can’t- You can’t get that in- This is Brooklyn. Brooklyn style.
Originally posted on Filming In Brooklyn
Conversations With Brooklyn’s Finest, Part One [Filming In Brooklyn]
On Location With Brooklyn’s Finest, Bodega Edition [Filming In Brooklyn]
On Location With Brooklyn’s Finest [Filming In Brooklyn]
Brooklyn’s Finest Keeping Out Of Sight In Flatlands [Filming In Brooklyn]