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Interview: The Uncertainty of independent filmmaking

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Sixteen years ago, directors David Siegel and Scott McGehee rode a wave of buzz out of the Sundance Film Festival, based on their debut feature, Suture.

With the heat from their initial film as writer-directors, they began making plans for their next film - an early space-age tale about rocket science and gigolos called Modern Mates.

Almost two decades - and three subsequent films - later, they're still hoping to get it made. Indirectly, their frustration at not being able to move the project forward led to their latest film, Uncertainty, opening in limited release and on VOD on Friday (11.13.09).

"It's that hard to get a movie made," McGehee says. "We've been very busy trying to get movies made that didn't go. We've come close on a lot of movies that haven't been made."

Adds Siegel, "We spent a lot more time on movies that we didn't make than on the ones we have. It's difficult to get a film off the ground. It has been frustrating."

"There are a lot of ways a movie can fall apart and we've explored many of them," McGehee says, "Luckily, we enjoy the process of trying to make movies."

Uncertainty grew out of that frustration. Having moved their base of operations from the San Francisco Bay area to New York, the filmmaking partners were casting about for a project they could get off the ground: "We were noodling around with ideas about decision-making," Siegel says.

Says McGehee, "We decided on a title early on and the idea of starting on the bridge with a coin flip."

Uncertainty focuses on a pair of young lovers, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Lynn Collins. Undecided what to do on one summer weekend day, they meet in the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge, flip a coin - then run in opposite directions.

When each reaches an opposite end of the bridge, he or she finds the other there. Siegel and McGehee then split the storytelling into two color-coded storylines - a romantic comedy-drama set in Brooklyn and a thriller set in Chinatown. The film cuts back and forth between two stories, both featuring the same couple, in a pair of what-if scenarios.

"Essentially, we were making two movies," McGehee says. Adds Siegel, "There were a ridiculous number of locations, with stunts and chasing. I feel like we learned a lot about a certain way to shoot." Continued...

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