Our story starts with a postcard and a rather cryptic message:
"Dear Phil, I cannot continue m.o.s.! -- S.O.S.! -- Come to Lisbon with all your stuff a.s.a.p.! Big hug, Fritz."
Who is who? And what do all those abbreviations mean? The SOS of course, is obvious, and a.s.a.p. only strengthens the urgency: come AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. But m.o.s.?
Only if you work in movies you might know that M.O.S. is an old and rather strange word for "silent," and that the expression came up in the late twenties meaning "mit-out sound."
Anyway, we soon understand that the postcard was sent by a film director, Friedrich Monroe, to his friend Phillip Winter, a sound engineer. Friedrich has started a movie in Lisbon on a very romantic notion -- he wanted to do it "as if the whole history of cinema hadn't happened, shooting all on his own, a man alone in the streets, with an old hand-cranking camera, just like Buster Keaton in THE CAMERAMAN."
Well, Friedrich failed, and when he realized he had painted himself into a corner, he called Winter for help, hoping "that your microphones could pull my images out of their darkness, that sound could save the day."