From the GATW Archives: Interview: Noah Buschel (writer/director – THE MISSING PERSON)

Noah Buschel’s recent flick, THE MISSING PERSON, opens this Friday in Los Angeles (but if you’re in New York, you can catch it now). I spoke with Noah last week about the film, which follows a private detective (played by the eerie and awesome Michael Shannon) trailing a man who’s been missing since the real life unfortunate events of 9/11.

The other day I uploaded my interview with Michael Shannon, and now you can check out Noah’s after the jump. Be sure to catch THE MISSING PERSON if it’s playing in your area. If it isn’t, bug the hell out of your local indie cinema!

GATW: Where did the story come from?

Noah Buschel: The story came from seeing a lot of missing person signs around 9/11 around the Village. You know, it’s normally the kind of thing you only see in Western [movies] and all of a sudden there were all these posters up. Everyone was wondering where everyone was and I guess my mind started to wander off those missing person posters. Perhaps, I had this fantasy about what I would do if people thought I was dead and maybe I would I want to take a couple weeks out of my life…you know.

GATW: When you were writing the screenplay, did you follow up with any of [the missing person flyers] or follow any private investigators around?

NB: No, there are elements of realism but it’s like a comic book poem. It’s not really about a detective now, I would imagine detectives now don’t wear suits even. In fact, the one detective I know is pretty much always in a Nike sweat suit. I mean, it’s not about detectives now.

GATW: One thing I noticed about the film was that it was shot with a lot of low lighting, can you talk about that and why you decided to go that route?

NB: Well you know, me and the DP Ryan Samul we were very conscience of not wanting to do kind of sexy shadow contrast noir cliche. You know, one thing about old noir [films] is you’ll see a detective drink four martinis and then he wakes up in the morning and he’s fine. So we wanted to create, you’re in the detective’s mind, everything is through his eyes, so we just wanted approximate some sort of drunken depression, basically.

GATW: How did Michael Shannon get involved? Looking at his IMDb [profile] he has a vast [assortment] of roles and they’re all different from one another, so how did he get involved?

NB: The second movie I made with Amy Ryan and we became friends and she’s friends with Mike [Shannon] and she brought Mike by a screening of my second film and Mike liked it and we started talking and Amy kind of said “you know, I think he’d be really good for that noir movie you wrote THE MISSING PERSON”. And you know, one thing I’ve learned is that you don’t have much time on these indie movies and the best thing to do is to cast theater actors and that’s what Mike is. Even though he’s blowing up as a movie actor he’s really a theater guy. If you have TV actors it might not work if you only can do two takes and you’re running around but with someone like Mike, even something like just knowing your lines really well is extremely helpful on these low budget movies. Also, and some people don’t know what I’m talking about, but he kind of reminds me of Steve McQueen. So I thought it would be interesting to have a drunken Bullitt [laughs] .

GATW: My follow up with that is, you used Amy [Ryan] and Merritt [Wever] in your previous films, are you going to keep that going?

NB: Well, I live with Merritt and I don’t think she wants to work with me anymore [laughs]. So, I don’t know. I don’t have any roles for them in the couple projects I have coming up. I’m a movie goer so there’s so many people that I want to work with. If it was a big ensemble I would definitely try to get a lot of those people back in there for sure, but I don’t really have anything like that coming up.

GATW: Is there anything about THE MISSING PERSON that you haven’t been asked or that you want to tell movie goers or you fans?

NB: A lot of people have been asking me, I guess, there’s been some confusion about what [THE MISSING PERSON] is. Some people like it and some people don’t like it, and I’ve been talking to some of the actors and we came up with this term that [the film] is a comic book poem. So maybe that will help clarify what we were trying to do.

GATW: What are you working on next?

NB: I’m doing a film about a woman who is an agoraphobic starring Martha Plimpton. Martha Plimpton is this woman who hasn’t left her house in like four years and John Ortiz plays this plumber who comes in and they fall in love. I guess it’s a romantic comedy.