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Director Roger Spottiswoode Makes NYC-Set ‘Either Side Of Midnight’ Debut – Deadline

EXCLUSIVE: Acclaimed director Roger Spottiswoode is set to premiere his latest film, described as “a love poem for New York,” at a time when some are questioning the city’s future after the pandemic.

On either side of midnight, which debuts Saturday at the Cinejoy virtual film festival, is “a lyrical celebration of New York’s intoxicating diversity, told through four stories that collide over a Friday night in Manhattan.”

Born in Canada, Spottiswoode has lived in Ottawa, Los Angeles and the UK at various times in his life, but is now based in New York City. On either side of midnight pays homage to his adopted home.

“It’s one of those movies that has four or five main characters that are kind of woven together,” Spottiswoode told Deadline. “It doesn’t say it [explicitly], but it’s a film about the multiculturality of the city… It’s also a kind of love story in New York.

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Director Roger Spottiswoode
Courtesy of Roger Spottiswoode

The film can be seen as a retort to one of the city’s most important former residents, Donald Trump, who consistently denigrated immigrants during his presidency.

“New York is incredibly multicultural, multiracial, multicolored, multilingual and everyone is doing it,” observes Spottiswoode. “They don’t always like each other, but overall they are quite polite to each other. And sometimes they love each other… I think there is a great beauty in this kind of city and New York is absolutely that.

During Trump’s last presidential debate with Democratic challenger Joe Biden in October 2020, he denigrated his hometown because it was hit hard by the Covid pandemic.

“Take a look at New York and what happened to my wonderful city for so many years,” Trump commented. “I loved it, it was vibrant. He is dying, everyone is leaving New York.

President Trump was by no means the only one predicting the ruin of the city. So is James Altucher, comedy club owner and hedge fund manager who traveled to Florida during the pandemic and wrote a blog post last August stating, “New York is dead forever.” (The play was reprimanded by comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who wrote a New York Times op-ed calling Altucher a “putz”).

Roger Spottiswoode filming 'The 6th Day'
Roger Spottiswoode shoot 6th day
Columbia Tristar / Mega

Spottiswoode takes an upbeat note about the city, noting that the drop in demand for office space in New York – which some might cite as a warning of problems to come – has an advantage.

“We’ll figure out how to convert these office buildings into nice apartments and people won’t have to flee,” says Spottiswoode. “Suddenly there will be a lot of cheaper apartments and it will become a city that people can afford to live in… I think that all of this could change and be a very good thing for New York. And that instead of dying out, she will have a new and slightly different life, rather a better life because it won’t cost that much.

Spottiswoode Shot On either side of midnight in New York in October and November 2019, just before the emergence of Covid and the city’s transformation into the epicenter of the pandemic. At that time, it was relatively easy to shoot there, like guerrillas.

“In New York, unlike most cities, if you don’t put anything on the ground and stop traffic and don’t have trucks and extras, you can just live like the New York world – you don’t really need permission most of the time, ”he notes. “We’re now using these tiny cameras which are very good… They look like a little Leica, they’re made by Sony and they weigh nothing… and nobody even notices you’re making a movie.”

On either side of midnight stars an ensemble cast that includes Yasha Jackson (The Flight Attendant), Adam Kantor (Billions), Rajesh Bahar and young actor Ishan Gandhi. Spottiswoode says he went to edit the film in England, but wanted to return to New York to film another sequence. But at that point, Covid had New York and the rest of the United States in its hands.

“I realized I needed one more scene and of course it was very difficult to shoot. I was looking [Gov.] Cuomo every day – see when the lockdown ended… And July 15th was the first day we could shoot and that day we shot, ”the director recalls. “We shot with two actors in Central Park for a day and it took me about 8 weeks of negotiating with SAG, with Central Park Conservancy, who are extremely nice, by the way. Trying to make that happen was incredibly complicated.

Actors Desmond Llewelyn and Pierce Brosnan in 'Tomorrow Never Dies'
Actors Desmond Llewelyn and Pierce Brosnan in Tomorrow never dies
ISp / UPI Photo Service / Newscom / The Mega Agency

Spottiswoode, 76, became one of Hollywood’s most sought-after directors in the late ’80s and’ 90s. He directed Sidney Poitier and Tom Berenger in Shoot to kill (1988), Tom Hanks in Turner & Hooch (1989), Robert Downey Jr. and Mel Gibson in Air America (1990) Pierce Brosnan in the movie 007 Tomorrow never dies (1997) and Arnold Schwarzenegger in 6th day (2000). He also wrote the 1982 hit Eddie Murphy-Nick Nolte 48 hours. Collectively, films directed and / or written by Spottiswoode have grossed over $ 1.1 billion worldwide, adjusted to today’s dollars.

One of his career highlights came with the 1993 TV movie And the band kept playing, on the first days of the AIDS epidemic. It won Primetime Emmy and Directors Guild Awards nominations for the film.

“A fascinating subject, and one which linked my documentary roots to my kind of more feature-length world,” he notes of the four-hour film. “I was very nervous about doing it, whether it would find an audience, whether it could be done honestly, whether it was possible to tell a story about a very complicated scientific disease that no one could understand,” that we still have not resolved. It turned out to be an extremely rewarding experience.

He says he’s always motivated by aspects of the filmmaking process that others might find offensive.

“I’m used to trying to do things I don’t know how to do,” Spottiswoode tells Deadline. “I am experimenting. I’m trying to find my way, I’m trying to figure out how to do these things. “

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