In an exclusive interview with Hollywood.com, director Brad Furman, whose latest film, The Lincoln Lawyer, is now playing in theaters nationwide, spoke briefly about his upcoming project, Intricate, a ‘90s New York narco-thriller which Darren Aronofsky’s Protozoa Pictures partner Scott Franklin (The Wrestler, Black Swan) is helping develop.
The film is inspired by the true story of a basketball phenom Furman met and befriended in college. “My friend Don was a big Division I basketball recruit and he made a very odd choice to go to NYU where he would be required to pay for school and take out student loans,” said Furman. “What nobody really knew was that he aspired to be a writer, sort of in the vein of like a beatnik writer like Jack Kerouac, someone who would go live in a particular world, learn the world, become a part of the world, and then go write about it. He had that vision for himself, going into the grittier streets of Manhattan in the ‘90s.”
Things didn’t go exactly as planned for the would-be Kerouac: “As he began to ingratiate himself into freshman year and basketball and those experiences that we shared together … soon thereafter he disappeared,” said Furman. The two remained out of touch “for many years, until much later when I was pursuing my film career, he let me know his story of going undercover as a journalist – as a student – in the underground drug trade of Manhattan.”
Among the unintended offshoots of that drug trade was an East Coast hip-hop renaissance. New York rap legends Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z, among others, are said to have kick-started their music careers with the aid of profits generated from narco-trafficking ventures. Intricate, according to Furman, will deal in large part with how “the drug game, how the money from it was financing the rap game during some of the greatest years in that music’s history.”
Furman said there’s currently no timetable for Intricate to begin production: “We’re in the development stage. Scott Franklin brought in his dear friend and talented writer, Rob Smyth [to rewrite the script], so I’m waiting for a new draft.” Initial reports linking Franklin and Protozoa Pictures to the film in an official capacity were quickly refuted by Franklin, who seems content at this time to remain an uncredited advisor.
That could very well change, however, should the project gain momentum. Furman, for his part, is sanguine about Intricate’s prospects. “It’s something that’s very true to my heart,” he said. “I lived in that world; I know it in and out. It’s a movie that I wouldn’t have to find a way in on. I’m very proud of The Take and Lincoln Lawyer, but I had to find a way in [on those films]. This is a world I already know. If you look at Martin Scorsese’s early work with Mean Streets and Raging Bull, they were stories based around the world that he lived in and that he knew. So I’m hoping that I’ll have the opportunity to work on stories like that.”