Meet the man who filmed 'Good Boys,' Shandling, Seinfeld and Silverman

Jonathan Furmanski: ‘I’m very fortunate to be able to work on such a wide variety of things’

Cinematographer Jonathan Furmanski films "Good Boys." (photo credit: Courtesy)
Cinematographer Jonathan Furmanski films "Good Boys."
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Good Boys, the 2019 American comedy film – directed by Gene Stupnitsky in his directorial debut, and written by Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg – is not to be confused with the more controversial summer series Our Boys.
The film, shot in Vancouver under the direction of what has been described as a heavily Jewish crew, is being hailed as a cross between Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Stand By Me.
The comedy film follows the journey of 6th grade boys Max (Jacob Tremblay), Lucas (Keith L. Williams) and Thor (Brady Noon), who ditch school to embark on an epic adventure. The three soon find themselves being chased by teenage girls and accidentally carrying stolen drugs, all while desperately trying to return home in time for a long-awaited party.
Aside from writers Eisenberg and Stupnitsky, the film is produced by two other good (Jewish) boys: Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who met as teenagers at a bar mitzvah class in Vancouver and have been collaborating ever since.
The film’s cinematographer, Jonathan Furmanski, talked to The Jerusalem Post about the film’s ambitious script, constructing a 300-foot stretch of highway for the biggest scene of his film career, and the challenges of working with three 11-year-old lead actors.
“Photographically, we took a lot of inspiration from ‘80s films like Stand By Me and E.T.” he said. “We wanted the film to feel a little nostalgic. Even though it clearly takes place in 2018 – the kids have drones and cellphones – we aimed for a more timeless quality.”
He said that a lot of work went into creating an environment where the boys felt safe and supported.
“We tried to give them as much space to work as we could, so they didn’t have to worry about things like hitting too many marks or other distractions,” he said.
But the show was not without its challenges.
Furmanski described the biggest and most exciting scene (spoiler alert) as being when the boys cross the highway.
“At first we looked into shooting on an actual highway,” he said, “but we couldn’t find a location that gave the control we needed to shoot and be safe. So, we ended up building a 300-foot stretch of highway on an unused airport runway.”
The five- to six-minute scene took three days of main-unit photography to shoot, and two days of stunt and VFX work to complete, which in turn made lighting continuity a real challenge, he described.
“I spent a lot of time with our 1st AD [assistant director] Dan Miller, working out the shooting order so we’d be shooting in the right direction at the right time” explained Furmanski. “We had a small army of crew driving around large diffusion and bounce frames to control the light when we needed to. It was the biggest scene I’d ever done.”
Last year, Furmanski completed Judd Apatow’s The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling, based on the personal diaries of the iconic Jewish comedian who passed away in 2016. The film includes conversations with the likes of James L. Brooks, Jim Carrey, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, Jerry Seinfeld and Sarah Silverman among others.
“That was a great project to be a part of,” he told the Post. “Judd Apatow was one of Garry’s best friends, and he wanted to make sure Garry’s story was told with love and admiration for who he was and all he did.
“I was a fan of Garry’s before working on the doc, and got to shoot with him for one day on another documentary project that Judd co-directed with another good friend, Mike Bonfiglio,” he continued. “After working on and seeing the film, I’m very sad I wasn’t able to spend more time with Garry.”
For Furmanski, that two-part HBO documentary was followed by The Family Business: Trump and Taxes, which was mostly shot at the offices of The New York Times.
Among Furmanski’s TV credits are Inside Amy Schumer, Springfield of Dreams: The Legend of Homer Simpson and Oprah Goes to Broadway: The Color Purple.
“I do wear a different hat for each kind of job, and you always have to adapt to the circumstances in which you’re shooting.” he said. “I’m very thankful for my documentary experience, because it taught me how to be lightweight and nimble. I love hand holding and improvising with the camera, and I try to bring those skills to my narrative work.
“Similarly, I try to use my scripted experience when shooting documentaries to help elevate them photographically and create a strong visual language for those projects,” Furmanski said. “I’m very fortunate to be able to work on such a wide variety of things. I get to work and make things with very talented and creative people. It never really feels like work – so maybe that’s why my career has grown and continues to grow.”