*In “Being Flynn,” Paul Dano (“Little Miss Sunshine,” “There Will Be Blood”) is Nick Flynn, whose memoir, “Another Bulls—t Night in Suck City,” is the book the movie is based on. Robert DeNiro is Jonathan Flynn, Nick’s homophobe, racist [both prejudices are cleverly dealt with in the film] father and Julianne Moore is Jody Flynn, Nick’s long-suffering mother who commits suicide.
Dano spent time with Nick Flynn to get to know him, but not imitate him. The issues and situation Flynn wrote about are pervasive in everyday conversations and news headlines. On the topic of homelessness, The Film Strip asked Dano how surreal it was to do the homeless scenes? “The film ended up being a lot harder than I had anticipated and a lot more important than I had anticipated, just in terms of what I took away from it; not just as an actor but as a person,” he revealed.
The filmmakers visited the Bowery Mission in Manhattan, as well as the AIDS Service Center. Cast and crew met people with empowering stories of rebounding from homelessness and addiction. Adding to his statements about shooting those scenes, Dano said: “It was really an emotionally draining experience. Day after day, it just sort of started to take on this weight and it was hard. But that’s what made it fun too, you know, getting to work with the homeless. Whether it was in prep volunteering or whether you’re filming, there were people who come from the shelters and different projects to be a part of the scenes and that was a very moving experience on more than one level. There were a lot of surprises, a lot of surprises. It was just so surprising at how normal some of these people were.”
“Also,” Dano continued, “It was not just the homeless but the many stereotypes about certain addicts, that they all are really strung out, have shitty apartments, shake or look crazy. In my research I definitely found situations of people who look normal, go to work like us everyday and then go home and find some way to escape [with different types of drugs]; and I wanted to just figure out why emotionally my character needed this stuff.”
Being baffled by those who voluntarily take drugs or indulge in any kind of self-destructive behavior was more perplexing to Dana. The homelessness brought back disturbing memories. “I remember walking to school when I was young and I think when you’re young you don’t totally understand the concept of homelessness,” Dano recalled. “I mean, you’re five-years-old or whatever, and it’s really affecting. I remember getting really upset by homeless people when I was young, not because of something they did, but feeling overly empathic about their situation. And as you get older, it becomes a part of your life throughout the day. It was interesting to have that feeling come back.”
In the movie, Dano is upset when his own father, Jonathan ends up at the homeless shelter where he works. Nick resigns from the shelter starts teaching at a school in Harlem.
Robert DeNiro and Tribeca Film Festival gears up for TFF 2012
Robert DeNiro and his Tribeca Productions are producers of “Being Flynn.” As the film is being released, The Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) and Universal Pictures announced recently that “The Five-Year Engagement” will open the much anticipated 2012 Tribeca Film Festival. The premiere will take place on Wednesday, April 18, and the Festival will run through April 29.
The Tribeca Film Festival helps filmmakers reach the broadest possible audience, enabling the international film community and general public to experience the power of cinema and promote New York City as a major filmmaking center. It is well known for being a diverse international film festival that supports emerging and established directors.
Founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff in 2001 following the attacks on the World Trade Center, to spur the economic and cultural revitalization of the lower Manhattan district through an annual celebration of film, music and culture, the Festival brings the industry and community together around storytelling. For more information, go to www.tribecafilm.com/festival.