Filmmakers often say that the city of New York is a character in their films, but in the case of his new film, “The Narcissists,” director Quincy Rose suggests that New York may actually be the lead, while the actors play a supporting role.
Written and directed by Rose, the filmmaker also stars in this four-actor flick. It follows his character, Oliver, and Cassi (Jessica DiGiovanni) as they walk around the city mulling over whether they should renew their lease and, as a result, continue their five-year relationship. Their conversations with friends — Max (Zack Tiegen) and Letty (Augie Duke) — meander just as they do, regularly heard before the actors approach from the distance, gradually reaching the front of a lengthy shot.
“If you get lost in a daydream during a shot because of traffic, or dogs, or because you know that street, that’s part of the design of the film,” says Rose. “I like writing dialogue-driven, character-driven material, and I wanted to match it with beautiful shots of the city.”
Rose shot the film, which begins streaming on iTunes and elsewhere on Tuesday, in less than a week, with cinematographer Jason Krangel. “It’s great shooting in New York since you can just go anywhere, shoot anything and it will be beautiful,” Rose says. “We did scout, but we could just go a block or two in either direction if that spot wasn’t available that day.
"That’s not the case in other cities, like Los Angeles," Rose says, "where it might be that a gardener won’t turn the lawn mower off and shooting a block or two away just won’t cut it.”
Rose says the biggest inspiration for the film came from a photograph he once took of a stranger saying goodbye to someone on the other side of the 6 train tracks — a moment he didn’t initially realize would stay with him.
“I wanted to know, who are these people on the opposite sides of the tracks, are they boyfriend and girlfriend, or just friends? I couldn’t shake that thought and just started writing,” he explains. “I wanted to make a film exactly how I wanted to make it, with only people I wanted involved.” Rose describes the film as a “time capsule of New York in that moment.”