The protagonist of The Silent City is completely alone.
Or so he thinks. “I’ve seen less and less of the others, as the years have passed,” he narrates to no one in particular. “Maybe they’re all gone.”
In the first two episodes of the independently produced webseries, we’re told little about the man, and even less about the cataclysmic event that wiped the city’s population from its streets. Instead, we follow him as he wanders through abandoned shipping docks, deserted buildings, and crumbling highway overpasses.
It’s a shock (or maybe not) to learn the desolate landscapes are all within the boundaries of the five boroughs. The first episode was filmed on the Redhook shipping docks. The second, in the legendary Staten Island boat graveyard, the Seaview Colony.
The series’ creator, a painter-turned-filmmaker named Rubidium Wu, spent months researching locations, digging through Flickr streams and mining the sites of dedicated urban spelunkers for ideas. In February, Wu wrapped up a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the series, netting an impressive $11,000—most of which is going to location fees. “It’s been tough,” he tells Co.Design. “Some places wanted this alone for location fees.” But Wu noticed that property owners tended to get excited about being involved, once he explained the project—after all, who doesn’t love a good apocalypse movie? “The more you can share what you’re trying to do, the more people want to get on board,” he adds.
The Silent City is remarkably well-produced, especially for a DIY project supported by a team you can count on one hand. The score, by composer and rapper Rob Rusli, sets an ominous tone that recalls the ambient electronic soundscapes of 28 Days Later. The composition is spot-on, thanks to Cinematographer Nathaniel Kramer, who used Russian-made Illumina lenses to sketch out this gritty, oversaturated Neo-New York.
Wu is releasing the five-part series as the team finishes cutting them. Since we’ve only seen the first two episodes, we know little about what’s coming next. He reveals that the next episode (#3) will take place in Fort Totten, an abandoned military base in Queens. The final episode was filmed in Glenwood Power Station, a turn-of-the-century Yonkers power plant on the Hudson River. Unsurprisingly, Wu is mum on story details, though he hints that the forthcoming episode will be heavy on action. “The first two episodes are about building a world and understanding what it takes to live here,” he says. “Things will start to happen pretty quickly from here.”