The first of the Noir Bars: New York series from Majestic Micro Movies will be going online in a few days. Here's how they were made. Beginning with a short written monologue, Jae Song cast an actor, worked with him or her on the reading and then recorded the monologue on a small digital device.
In the course of this process, Jae and the actor in a sense created the character, or found one of the many characters lurking in, made possible by, the written text. What they did was prompted by the script but shaped by the actor's sense of it and Jae's sense of what would work as a voice-over on film.
They then repaired to a bar and began improvising behavior. Since the camera Jae was using was so small, and since he was shooting with available light and not taking live sound (apart from ambient bar sound), no one really noticed that they were making a movie. Drinking began. Jae followed his instincts visually and when he had what he needed, or when his storage card or battery in the camera ran out of space or juice, drinking continued uninterrupted. The whole shoot rarely lasted more than an hour or two.
Then Jae began the only part of the work he found tedious — editing. Fortunately his roommate Joe Griffin, a fellow filmmaker who also starred in one of the films, helped out with this.
The films only last a couple of minutes. The challenge was to create real characters and situate them in real stories. Only a brief glimpse into the character's narrative could be captured, of course, but the idea was to come up with something beyond a character study, or an anecdote — something that would set the mind to wondering . . . how did this character get into this predicament? What's going to become of this character?
When you ask questions like that, you are in the realm of a genuine story.