We live in funny times. We live in conflicted times. But most of all, we live in fast times. Time has become the most abstract yet most prized possession of all. Whoever has time – spare time, free time – has it all. But where does the entertainment industry fit inside this fast-paced, HD enhanced revolution?
Nikki Borges and Amanda De La Nuez aren’t worried about our ever-shrinking attention spans. Instead, the two women launched Insta Mini Series – a project that grabbed the bull by the horns and decided to make time, and our lack of it, part of the solution. The series, called Silent Brokelyn, debuted only six months ago, but it’s already grown a hefty fan base thanks to its clever, 15-second episodes featuring the misadventures of two Brooklyn bartenders.
The 25-episode series, which was created in collaboration with Colombian film director Mateo Salcedo, is a study in contrasts. A narrative about 20-something girls living in NYC that unfolds on a social media platform pretty much screams 2015. But the execution – black and white, slapstick comedy that is totally silent – is anything but. The group counts Charlie Chaplin as one of their biggest inspirations, dubbing him “the original hipster,” and they draw heavily from the silent film era’s tropes.
“We consider ourselves, first and foremost: performers,” they told me a few weeks ago, as I sat across the table from them at a cafe. It wasn’t hard to see why they make such great physical comediennes; everything from their facial expressions to the way they handle their bodies made me feel like I was already watching a charming play unfold in front of me.
When discussing their creative process, Nikki, Amanda and Mateo all agreed that the best projects usually arise from getting involved in your own community – in this case, Brooklyn. Amanda and Nikki are Cubans via Miami, but even though they went to the same schools and knew each other, they only reconnected once they had both moved to Brooklyn. “We sat on the backyard in my house one day,” Nikki said, “and we decided we had to do something with the great chemistry we share.”
Mateo, who will be showcasing his short-film Beast of Burden at the Soho Film Festival during the second and third weeks of May, is especially interested in the development of character’s psychology in film. “Films about New York are not really films about the city, they are films about how the character finds himself inside a specific neighborhood, a specific barrio within the city,” he said. Those of us who live here can absolutely relate to that, that every barrio is, in fact, a different world.
The trio shot all 25 episodes in the same day, with a simple DSLR camera. It was Mateo’s background in the advertising industry that helped perfect these fast-paced, 15-second narratives. In fact, advertising has been subverting traditional narrative timings since the beginning. Every second costs money!
“Another thing we were interested in,” explained Nikki, “was getting away from all the complicated issues that surround production crews in the traditional entertainment industry nowadays. There is so much bureaucracy involved, so many budget issues. We figured producing this independently, but in our own way was really going to make us happy.”
Based on the response they’ve been getting, the show makes other people happy too. Amanda, who teaches yoga classes on the side, told me she was recently recognized by a student. “She said ‘Are you the girl from InstaMiniSeries?’ and I kind of flipped. That’s when you know things are actually working out.”
Follow @instaminiseries to check out Silent Brokelyn, and stay tuned for their next show, a drama based on the reading of Tarot cards.