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Greengrass drew on his experience from his controversial docudramas “The Murder of Stephen Lawrence” and “Bloody Sunday” to make “United 93” as truthful and dramatic as possible.

But the size and sensitivity of the 9/11 story presented a whole new challenge. “It was not just the subject matter and the scale of the event, but technically making the film with that many speaking parts,” recalls Greengrass, who shot the film in the U.K.

At the heart of the movie is the unfolding drama within the doomed plane itself. Greengrass captured this by running the entire flight through in real time, three times a day for seven days.

“People say it looks very improvised and unstructured, but it doesn’t happen just because you turn up. You get that by planning, by understanding before the start every beat of the story. You’ve got to cast the right kind of actors, and prepare them very carefully and rehearse intensively with great discipline.