The Safdie Brothers' 10-Year Journey to UNCUT GEMS

December 23rd, 2019The Safdie Brothers' 10-Year Journey to UNCUT GEMS

[(L-R) Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie, Adam Sandler. Photo by Julieta Cervantes]

After 10 years in the making, Josh and Benny Safdie's UNCUT GEMS is finally in theatres. The film follows a shady jeweler named Howard (Adam Sandler), who sees the opportunity to make some major money with a rare and massive stone. And he desperately needs the cash. A gambling addict, Howard is in debt with some dangerous people; his personal life isn't fairing too well either. But if he can make this score, he thinks, he can solve all of his problems.

UNCUT GEMS was inspired by the stories the Safdie brothers' father used to tell about working as a salesman in New York City's Diamond District. Of course, the script changed over the decade. "The films we made inspired and changed the story, and the deeper research changed the story, but initially, just this world that existed on 47th Street was incredible. We were young when our father worked there, and the stories got more and more interesting as we got older."

[Adam Sandler. Photo by Julieta Cervantes]

As the filmmakers revised and waited to make UNCUT GEMS a reality, they tackled other acclaimed projects, like DADDY LONGLEGS and GOOD TIME, with writer, editor and actor Ronald Bronstein. Now a long-time partner, Bronstein also co-wrote and edited UNCUT GEMS. The Safdie brothers said, "He’s become such an integral part to everything we do."

But one of the most important pieces of UNCUT GEMS is the score, and for that the Safdie brothers tapped Daniel Lopatin (known as Oneohtrix Point Never), the composer for their previous film.

"After GOOD TIME, with the score, we saw that [Dan] really enmeshed himself in the film in an emotional and intellectual way, and he could talk about it in very deep, deep words, and that would translate into music, which is kind of almost like a superpower in its own right."

[(L-R) Eric Bogosian, Adam Sandler. Photo by Julieta Cervantes]

The score of UNCUT GEMS helps set the pace of the story, which starts at 100 and just keeps accelerating. "It was actually a much harder score to complete," the brothers said, because the film relies on the music to maintain the tension and take us through all of the highs and lows. "Dan has said each time we scored a scene it was like a completely new score for a film."

Though the prep and editing processes were "insane," UNCUT GEMS's physical production only took 32 days, and the Safdie brothers shot in chronological order as much as possible. "It is important to keep track of where the emotions are, where you come into a scene and where you exit a scene... Every scene we approached almost like a documentary. We would start from zero, like, ‘OK, here’s all of the takes. Let’s make it work.’ I think that kind of adds a life to it. The whole point is keeping it alive at every stage of the process."

We'd agree the Safdie brothers kept UNCUT GEMS alive throughout its entire runtime. Don't miss the highly suspenseful story on the big screen. Check your local AMC for showtimes and tickets!

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