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BROOKLYN'S FINEST

About The Production
It all began with a car.

Michael C. Martin, a New York City transit worker, needed a new ride when his old one was totaled in an accident. Sidelined by injuries he suffered in the crash, Martin was casting about for ideas to raise the cash he sorely needed when he discovered a screenwriting contest online with a $10,000 first prize. Although he had never written a film script before, he thought the contest might be his ticket to a new automobile.

"I was out of work for a while,” he says. "I had some time on my hands and I figured winning the contest would be the best way to get the money.”

Martin followed the advice so many novice writers are given: Write what you know. Born and raised in the Brooklyn projects, he set his script there and started with an idea based on a story he heard from a friend. The result was Brooklyn's Finest, a well-constructed tale about three police officers working out of the toughest precinct in the toughest borough of New York City.

Martin finished his script on the day of the contest deadline and submitted it in person. "About a month later I got a phone call saying I was a finalist,” he says. "I was going to get the car!”

But that's not exactly the way it turned out. Martin did not win the contest or get a car, but his runner-up status attracted the attention of Hollywood. "We were looking for someone to write a script for New Jack City 2,” Basil Iwanyk of Thunder Road Pictures remembers.” Brooklyn's Finest was submitted to us as a writing sample.”

The script's skillful handing of three separate but related narratives intrigued the producer. "It's cleverly done,” Iwanyk says. "I really felt for all of these men and that set the script apart. Michael created completely different characters, but at the end of the movie, you realize they're all hatched from the same egg.

"In the lexicon of cop movies, it feels epic,” says the producer. "I haven't seen what I think is a great New York police drama in a long time. This feels like Lumet or Scorsese. It could be about Brooklyn or the Bronx or Queens or Manhattan. It takes place in 2009, and it feels like post-Giuliani New York.”

Iwanyk was an executive on the acclaimed 2001 film Training Day and was eager to work with the director, Antoine Fuqua, again. "I thought Brooklyn's Finest and he were a perfect match, but I wasn't sure he would want to make another movie about police officers so soon. Still, I sent it to him—and he loved it He was the only director we ever discussed.”

In fact, Fuqua had always felt he had some unfinished business with the subject matter. "I really didn't want to do another cop movie,” he says. "I've always tried not to get pigeonholed. But when I did Training Day, I was struck by the different pressures that civil servants, especially police officers, are under and how misunderstood they are. I thought Michael had found a new way into the subject. This is not about corrupt officers as much as it is about three people doomed by their own personal issues.”

Fuqua contacted the writer as soon as he read the script. "I think he was making sure I was the real deal,” says Martin. "We talked about the story and some casting ideas. Antoine clearly already had a vision for the film.

"Nobody could have directed it but Antoine,” he says. "He would tell me his ideas and we bounced back and forth. After he signed, we got Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke, Richard Gere and Ellen Barkin. Everything just started moving immediately. Once the actors got involved, it developed even further.”

At about the same time, Millennium Films and John Langley Films joined the team that would bring Brooklyn's Finest to the screen. "We decided almost immediately that we wanted to be involved in the movie,” says producer John Thompson of Millennium. "It doesn't follow a formula or typify any specific genre. It is all very real.”

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