Love in not luck…it’s strategy. In a city of 19 million people, love at first sight happens every second, doesn’t it? When IT guy Josh finds out that his secret office crush has posted a “missed connections” ad to find the ideal man she bumped into for a minute, he decides to post his own ad to woo her. When that idea goes all wrong Josh’s mistake unexpectedly brings him closer to his beloved than he ever dreamed.
Jon Abrahams (Hitchcock), Mickey Sumner (Frances Ha, CBGB) and Julia Jones (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse) star in this vibrant romantic comedy about the lengths New Yorkers go to find love. ‘Missed Connections‘, Winner of the 2012 Narrative Feature Audience Award at the Sarasota, Gen Art, and Savannah Film Festivals ‘Missed Connections‘ is the feature film debut of writer, producer and director Martin Snyder.
We spoke with Martin Snyder about the film’s success on VOD, his influences behind the film and the general natre of New York City Dating. The film is available NOW on iTunes and all VOD platforms, presented by FilmBuff.
But or Rent ‘MISSED CONNECTIONS’ on iTunes – HERE
Who are some of your artistic influences?
Having lived in Manhattan for 12 years now, New York City has been a major influence on me. As filmmakers, Woody Allen and John Hughes. The independent music scene has also played a big part in my life.
Specific to filmmaking, where did you draw inspiration when creating this narrative?
For me, having seen the pacing of the 80s film’s, I drew influence from those projects. I like the narrative to move very quickly because it is New York City. I like it to be fun.
From a directing stand point, I took the same approach. When we were shooting the film, we would move very quickly through scenes in order to create that quick level of pacing. We also had budget limitations so we had a lot of handheld and steadicam shots, which helped this. The actors were amazing since they could get the scenes done quickly, and in a good way.
How did you approach shooting around New York City, particularly exteriors? Do you go out and “steal shots”?
Absolutely! I live downtown, so I spend a lot of time walking through the city. When I was writing the script with Marnie Hanel, it originally took place in L.A. When we got to a place where we were going to make it, I had to rewrite it to make it work in New York. I would walk around with a point and shoot to get a vibe for the locations, making sure they work with the tone of the film. I also wanted to show elements of the city which are not as visible to outsiders; areas only a local would know. I wanted to give an insider type feel as, in my mind, New York City plays as a character as well.
I saw that there are several New York based characteristics like small Yoga classes and getting high on the fire escape. What do you find the most difficult aspect of shooting in New York City?
There are challenges and upsides to filming in New York City. We had a lean crew so we could move around quickly. We had a great location manager, who was great about helping us secure permits. In other areas we would be real run and gun, guerilla stye. New Yorkers are used to film crews and people with cameras walking around. They are good about people not looking into the camera and ruining shots.
You mentioned that the original script for ‘Missed Connections’ was set in Los Angeles. Why was it necessary to rewrite the script setting it in New York City?
The film was larger, with bigger budget, sets and more locations. There is a lot about L.A., and its landscape, that suited this story but as we met with producers they kept saying the budget was too high; in the millions. We came back to New York, rewrote the script and it was suggested we self produce and shoot in New York. Basically, we pulled out all the non New York elements, and focused the story in the city
It is funny because it made more sense. When people are so busy all the time, whether at work or on the subway, you really do not have time to just stop and introduce yourself. The concept of a missed connection itself has become common place in New York, as well as other urban areas.
What is it about the idea of a “missed connection” that made you want to center a film around it?
It started with Marnie. She had an idea to write a book about the concept of missed connections. I had been writing screenplays for a few years, her background is in journalism, so over Christmas break we sat and read some Craigslist Ads on the subject. I was laughing hysterically and got very excited about the idea. I loved the humor in a lot of the ads. I thought if this could work as a screenplay. After the New Year, I called Marnie and asked her about working on a script rather than a book. We spent a lot of time figuring out the characters and going from cafe to cafe, getting a diverse idea of how people see the world. It is very optimistic, like me.
How did you research the specifics of the dialogue, especially amongst such diverse yet unquestionably New York characters?
It is really by keeping your ears open. As a writer and a person who enjoys meeting people, I am very a tune to language. Growing up in Miami and moving the New York, I have been around different cultures. I always find when you sit and talk to people you are always amazed by the things you find out. I always find that the people stuck in the mundane, 9-5 all have a dream of doing something else. I know many people like that and have always been interested in the kind of dreams these people have.
Jon Abrahams and Mickey Sumner have a strong chemistry as the two leads. As a director, how do you build (or add to existing) chemistry amongst your actors?
They really inhabited the characters and were phenomenal. Jon’s father was my animation professor so I knew who he was. I wanted someone who was kind, smart, funny and handsome for the role, especially the kindness.
Mickey had never done a feature, but there was something about her that struck me. We met one morning, where she came for an audition. I asked her to speak in an American accent and she nailed it. Not to mention it was my first movie and her first feature so I felt it was right. I felt a wave of emotion come over me and I offered her the part on the spot.
There is also a very diverse soundtrack behind the film with elements of rock, jazz, hip hop and more. What was your strategy behind the score?
The music is one of my favorite aspects of the film. Kudos goes to Madison. She is a childhood best friend, musician and music industry figure. I worked in music as a manager and DJ, so I have a strong musical background as well. For me, having Madison and listening to Indie Music around New York City (Mercury Lounge, Bowery Ballroom, Music Hall of Williamsburg) was vital to the film.
‘Missed Connections’ is being released on iTunes and VOD via FilmBuff. Can you give us your thoughts on the VOD discussion?
That is the way it is today. I did not think much while writing the film, even making the film, about the distribution. I wanted to write something fun and doing the best job I could. Going to festivals and distribution came as an after thought. Since it was my first film, I was not really aware of the amount that went into post production so it was an education for me. I was very hands on through every aspect of the film, including distribution, but it was all a learning process.
We have the #1 film on iTunes, for independent films, so all of that is icing on the cake. It is an amazing reward for all the people involved with the film. You put yourself out there, with so much time and money, once you get it out there anything is a reward. The digital proliferation of this is growing, so distribution channels are widening. I am very happy to be at the forefront of that. As filmmakers, we do not all get multi-million dollars for budgets and marketing so we have to be smarter about how we get films made. At the same time, you want to create something people want to consume.
I am open to everything from theatrical release to watching a film on your iPhone. I feel as though those people stuck in a more “traditional” distribution mindset should move forward. You have to keep pushing the envelope and think about how people are accessing movies. Of course I love listening to Vinyl records, but I also have an Ipod and Pandora. Last night I saw ‘The Great Gatsby‘ in the theater, went home and watched ‘Pretty in Pink‘ on Netflix.
How did you come to this place as a filmmaker? Where did your original interest in film start? What advice would you give others just starting out in their filmmaking careers?
I have led an interesting life. I was born in Peru, moved to Los Angeles, Miami, then New York for college. Moving around and adapting to new environment always influenced me. Through being around art while growing up it had a profound affect on me. Finally, when moving to New York City, living a creative life and being around art was important to me. I found I felt most rewarded when at the theater or museums or Broadway. It made me feel happy and I wanted to be a part of that but it has been challenging.
I have been struggling to write and make a film for a long time. The main advice I would give is to stick with it. If it is something you are passionate about don’t give up! Many people give up, but fortunately for me I did not. Also, my father has been very encouraging.
– Interview Conducted & Transcribed by Steve Rickinson