The Searching follow-up film, Missing, flips the original concept. Whereas Searching saw John Cho’s character looking for his missing daughter using the tools available to him on his computer, Missing has Storm Reid’s June trying to track down her mother, Grace played by Nia Long.

In the latest screen thriller from producing trio Aneesh Chaganty (director of Searching), Natalie Qasabian, and Sev Ohanian, Reid’s June is a typical teenager who doesn’t appreciate her mother always checking in and often leaves text messages unanswered. June experiences that digital radio silence herself when Grace takes a trip to Colombia with her new boyfriend and never returns. June tries to use the proper channels for help, but when an abundance of international red tape becomes a detrimental roadblock, June takes matters into her own hands and turns to everyday apps, websites, and other online resources to figure out what happened to her mother.

With Missing hitting theaters nationwide on January 20th, I got the chance to chat with Long about her experience being part of the highly unique production process required to make a screen thriller.

Nia Long in Missing
Image via Sony

Long began by listing the myriad of burning questions she had for directing duo (and Searching editors) Nick Johnson and Will Merrick during filming:

“I was like, okay, where am I supposed to look, and what just happened, and what's gonna happen after this, where's the light, and, oh, don't worry about the light? Oh, it's supposed to look bad because it's grainy and it's not a real screen, it's actually a device, so each device should have its own look. So I think I had a lot of questions from the beginning to the end, but then there were moments when I thought, don't ask, just do what you would normally do and clearly they're gonna catch it because there's like 9,000 cameras in the room. [Laughs] That was pretty freeing.”

Long pinpointed one particular scene where familiar filmmaking challenges collided with screen thriller requirements to send pressure soaring:

“There's a scene where I'm driving a car, I have the phone in my hand, which wasn't a cradle, but it didn't really work for the shot so I had to hold it. And then Storm was in the backseat reading her off-camera lines. I could see myself and — oh! And we were losing the light outside. So I really felt like a champ because I pulled it off and we were in a car and, you know, when you're in a car shooting, even though the streets are blocked up, you're still in a car, and now you've got other lives in the car. So I was like, I've got to make this work. So the pressure was on, but we got through it.”

Nia Long and Storm Reid in Missing
Image via Sony Pictures Releasing

The conversation shifted to Missing star Storm Reid next. Not only was Long eager to shower Reid herself in praise, but also Reid’s own mother:

“I think she's a pro, number one. She knows what she's doing. There's no, ‘Wait, what?’ And she really commits. She really commits to the moment, she commits to the material. She's got this beautiful gracefulness, but then there's also that young woman in there that's still excited about what she's doing and that she's a part of something that's so important and so big, right? I remember being her age and working with John Singleton and not really understanding the magnitude of what we were doing. It was just like, ‘Oh my god, I got a job!’ You know? And she's got this maturity and this grace, but [there’s] still this innocence and I think kudos to her mom because to get that balance you know mom is in there guiding the ship and pouring all the nuggets into her that she needs to become the woman that she is today.”

Looking for even more on the making of Missing? We’ve got you well covered in that department because our full 40-minute post-screening Q&A with the filmmaking team is available to watch below: