We did a little research before heading into the Peggy Siegal Company's special screening of Nobody Walks at the Landmark Sunshine last night—specifically, what could the title of Interview pal Ry Russo-Young's second feature mean?
The film, we discovered, is set in Los Angeles, and the title refers to the bemusement that protagonist Martine (Olivia Thirlby), a native New Yorker, feels about LA's lack of car culture. With this in mind, when we saw Vampire Weekend's Chris Tomson at the event, we were curious about whether he's a good driver. He answered with an emphatic yes. "We still have the first van that we ever toured in, we still have [it] as a sort of remnant of our past lives, that I generally take care of because I live in Greenpoint and there's better parking than where the other people live."
Russo-Young herself showed up looking dry, lovely, and nonplussed, despite the monsoon outside. What was it like, we wondered, to go from making You Wont Miss Me—a highly personal, subjective, and low-budget film, to making—
"A real movie?" Russo-Young finished for us, with a smile. "Totally different beast and set of concerns in making it. I think, You Wont Miss Me, the whole way that it came about was from scratch and was a collaboration between Stella [Schnabel] and I." Nobody Walks was the fruit of a collaboration, too: with Lena Dunham, who co-wrote the script with Russo-Young. "It was much more of a sort of conventional process... Lena and I had such a special kind of holy time working together and writing the movie."
They worked on the script at the Sundance Lab, which we confessed we've always imagined as a sort of idyllic indie-film summer camp. "It is like that!" she said. "We went there in June, so it was like a babbling brook and log cabins and you're there with all these brilliant—like, John August, who wrote Big Fish, was one of my mentors. And just incredible, smart people who are really giving. And you sit with them like at a picnic table and they tell you what they think of your script."
There must have been something in the air that summer—Russo-Young and Dunham turned out a funny, heartbreaking script, and Russo-Young directed a sensuous, provocative, utterly captivating film. Guests including Tomson and his bandmate Rostam Batmanglij, MGMT's Matt Asti (who DJ'd), Matt Quirarte, Sara Ziff, and Whit Stillman were more happy to toast the film over Stella Artois and pizza at the Jane Hotel afterward. —Alexandria Symonds