In the crime drama Good Time, which opens nationwide this Friday, the Safdie brothers take viewers on a journey through the streets of New York City as Connie (Robert Pattinson) pulls out all the stops to free his brother, Nick (co-director Benny Safdie), who was imprisoned by police after a bank robbery. The film is layered with a gritty realism, and in an interview with our own Vince Mancini, the brothers explained that they used a mixture of experienced actors with first-timers to round out the cast.
But the casting wasn’t the only way that the Safdie’s utilized a real-world sensibility, they also went guerilla with the shoot. A pivotal scene in the bathroom of a Domino’s Pizza was filmed during the chain’s regular business hours.
“We didn’t close it, but we filled it with real-life extras. Our casting department got kids who would really hang out at Domino’s,” said Josh Safdie. “The entire staff was all cast, except for the manager, and he said ‘Alright, we’re gonna close it down,’ and we said, ‘No we can’t close it down, because the people will start to congregate outside.’”
Not wanting to invite the prying eyes of the paparazzi, and drawing unwanted attention to Pattinson, the restaurant remained open.
“[So], they were buying pizzas,” added Benny Safdie, who explained that while hired extras made up most of the front-of-house staff, some of the kitchen staff were regular employees who remained on duty. “What really was surprising for Rob and I, in that moment, was that we just finished shooting the car crash, and we were covered in powder and needed to be fast. Like, ‘let’s just get this shot.’ We set it up and did it in 15 minutes. Nobody at the Dominos was ready for us to just run in, and we just ran in. The manager was like ‘Whoa, who whoa!’ It felt really alive, even though everybody was there for a purpose, it still had that feeling.”
While all this was going on, customers still filed into the Dominos to satisfy their cravings, and remained either oblivious or ambivalent to the movie being filmed around them. “It’s like people just accept it,” said Benny Safdie. “They don’t even look to see the cameras, because the way that we approach [our production] is like a construction site, not a movie set. So, people don’t really think twice about what’s actually going on.”
Just like that, the Safdie brothers got the shots they needed and wrapped the scene, all without calling any attention to themselves, or to Pattinson himself. Best of all, no one had to go without pizza and that’s what really matters here.