Boyson and Bear-McClard, producers of Ben and Joshua Safdie’s Cannes-bound “Good Time,” have built their careers on improvisation.
The two met by chance, each working in the same New York office building as the Safdie brothers, Greta Gerwig, Lena Dunham and a host of other Gotham creatives. Boyson cut his teeth as a co-producer on Noah Baumbach’s “Frances Ha” with Gerwig, and soon joined Bear-McClard in producing a film for the Safdies called “Uncut Gems.”
While scouting locations in the Diamond District, Bear-McClard and Joshua Safdie met a homeless girl on the subway named Arielle Holmes, and “Uncut Gems” was immediately put on hold to make a film loosely based on her life: “Heaven Knows What” turned arthouse heads in 2014, and attracted the interest of Robert Pattinson, who stars in “Good Time” alongside Jennifer Jason Leigh and Barkhad Abdi.
Working under their Elara Pictured production banner, the two producers and the Safdies brought a bit of the same spontaneity to the production of “Heaven Knows What” and “Good Time.” On both, the filmmakers wrapped principal photography before having written an ending, then went back to complete the films during post, allowing, as Bear-McClard puts it, “the rough cut to inform the writing and conceptualization of the ending.”
“That’s kind of a part of the model for us now going forward, and it’s a wildly luxurious part of the model if you’re super responsible during principal,” he says.
For Boyson, “Good Time” saw the producers refine the more seat-of-the-pants production style of “Heaven.” “It always felt like a race,” he says. “I remember flying to L.A. on a weekend to direct a commercial just so we could keep it going. This one was just as organic, in the sense of asking ‘what does the movie want to be?’ and then having the patience to give it what it needed. But with ‘Good Time,’ we were a little more honest about what we needed to stay healthy and sustainable, but at the same time insisting that we’re not finishing this thing until it’s exactly what it’s supposed to be.”
In June, Bear-McClard and Boyson will start principal photography for “The Squid and the Whale” star Owen Kline’s directorial debut, “Two Against Nature.” And in late 2017, they’re tackling some unfinished business from the start of their partnership, finally booting up “Uncut Gems.”
“It’s been our lodestar for so long now,” Boyson says.
– Andrew Barker
Inspirations: Bear-McClard: “Taste of Cherry,” “Goodfellas,” “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai”
Boyson: “The Heartbreak Kid,” “Jour de fête,” “Stranger Than Paradise”