The Silent City — interview with Rubidium Wu

Earlier this year I happened to discover an interesting project on Kickstarter. It was a funding drive for a web series called Silent City, a post-apocalyptic series to be filmed using the real-life abandoned spaces of New York City.

I’ve been following Silent City’s progress ever since — something made easier by the updates and directing tutorials the writer and director, Rubidium Wu, posted online. Now the first three episodes are up on the web. You can follow this link to see them on Youtube. Since the series began, there have been articles in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, as well as several blog articles.

The episodes run 5 minutes or so. The photography is beautiful, making excellent use of the unusual spaces used for filming. The story is compelling. Also, Eric Stafford does a good job of sensitively portraying the main character.

I wanted to blog about this because I found the funding process intriguing. I also wondered why the concept was so fascinating, to me and apparently to others. It’s hard to remember that in New York City, a place we think of as being crowded and fully utilized,  there are spaces where no one lives, places where there are only ghosts. The atmosphere of these sites seems perfect for this post-apocalyptic work.

Director Rubidium Wu  answered a few questions for this blog:

What inspired your idea of using New York’s abandoned spaces for the web series?

New York City is such a rich, amazing place. Having grown up near Melbourne, Australia, where the cities are (comparatively) new and modern, the amazing history of New York City is everywhere you turn. It seems to be full of stories and mystery – I wanted to shoot something here and the empty, forgotten spaces of the city just spoke to me.

What was the coolest abandoned space you’ve filmed in so far?

Has to be the Glenwood power station in Yonkers (where the episode 5 chase takes place). It is so grand and so decrepit at the same time. It was dangerous to film there but I think what we got was worth the risk. The Battery at Fort Totten is amazing as well, despite its age it has almost no graffiti which is a change from most abandoned spaces. I think that may have something to do with being directly opposite a NYPD training facility.

Why do you think people have responded so well (through funding and other assistance) to your idea?

Appeal is a personal thing and its very hard to say why its gotten the reception it has. I made a choice early on that we were going to keep the episodes short and focus our resources on doing something very high quality rather than length. I wanted to make a web series  that could sit alongside anything on TV, because most people hear the term ‘web series’ and think of a couple of guys ad libbing in front of a web cam.

How did Zombie Day go? (Note: some Kickstarter contributors had the opportunity to participate in a day of filming — as zombie extras —  in New York.)

It was a lot of fun and we got some good shots! For me, it was great to finally put faces to the names of people that had funded the project and put their trust in me to make something, and to thank them personally. Kickstarter, I’ve discovered, is not about projects, its about people.

Thanks again for the quick response. Glad all is going so well!

More information about the Silent City series, including  a trailer and information about the cast and crew, is available at the series’ website, here.