When I read Heart of the Old Country, a crime drama set in Brooklyn, I was amazed by its authenticity and how the author Tim McLoughlin avoided the clichés that can come with such familiar territory. And for good reason -- Tim's own experience is behind every page and on every street corner.
I knew it would be a challenge to convey both the sweetness and the cruelty of this fading world. Tim describes this dichotomy beautifully in the introduction of Brooklyn Noir - the book of short stories he edited and that never left my nightstand during the shoot. One of many lines from this book that stayed with me was -- I thought about the fact that the only men I've known, other than my father, who are comfortable telling me that they love me are also men capable of extreme violence. A lot of THE NARROWS is in these lines.
I was honored when screenwriter Tatiana Blackington sent me Heart of the Old Country, and recommended me to direct the film version. I wanted to be Mike from page one, to face those impossible choices that are going to make him a man. But I was working on another project and the shooting had to be during the summer I thought, sadly, that I would never be Mike. Love, choices, great characters, it was really painful for me to see them go away. What a happy director I was when, as luck would have it, Mike came back to me a summer later. That twist of fate gave me a new energy to work with Tatiana on the last version of the script. Mike's passion for photography wasn't in earlier drafts, but at Tatiana's suggestion, we added that dimension to express my own passion for this visual medium.
Living in Brooklyn was one of the most gratifying experiences of my life. I was in the heart of the movie, drinking beer in Irish bars with Tim and learning to swear like a native. I quickly grew protective of "my" neighborhood, and resentful of the Starbucks mushrooming around me. One day while I was scouting locations, Vincent D'Onofrio called to tell me he was in, and I was elated. Later in the conversation I asked him which part of Brooklyn he was from. He told me, "You wouldn't know it, I was born in Bensonhurst at the corner of 18th Avenue and 65th Street," and just then I looked ahead at the sign below the elevated train. It read - like in a movie - 65th Street and... As the train was screaming overhead, I had a big smile on my face...