Tomorrow, the seventy-seven minute long music video and dance spectacle, Girl Walk // All Day, will be screened at Space 15 Twenty, bringing the New York City set film to Los Angeles. While the movie has gathered lots of buzz and features a soundtrack by Girl Talk, it is a very New York film in that the dancers are dancing around Times Square, the Williamsburg Bridge, and even on the Wall Street Charging Bull. In anticipation of tomorrow’s screening, we asked director Jacob Krupnick some questions on the film and if it could even be done in Los Angeles, something we would love to see.
We sent Jacob a list of long questions on how the film deals with New York and dance and movement and the theme of unity in the film. Could it ever be done in Los Angeles? What would it take to be done here? How would you handle the personality of our city in relationship to the film? Here’s what he had to say, giving insight into his process and how our city would play into filmmaking and dance…
I moved to New York in 1992. I was ten years old. As soon as I had momma’s permission, I was rollerblading around town, doing laps in Central Park, jumping onto sidewalks and curbs, and checking out new areas. I eventually became a cyclist, which has been my favorite way of getting around NY for a decade.
Movement is central to Girl Walk // All Day. As a director, I thought a ton about navigation and crowds, about how commuters flow and tourists gather. As a camera person, I wanted to convey a sense of “swimming” through the city in pursuit of the dancers. And, of course, the dancers themselves are moving in reaction to the city around them. These are all specific to New York, from the pace to the style to the backdrops.
I find myself thinking a lot about how this kind of storytelling could transfer to other cities. Los Angeles has crossed my mind a bunch, though of course its extreme fragmentation would pose a major challenge. In order to make a film like this in LA, I’d spend several months living in different neighborhoods, driving, biking, and walking around all day. Literally all day. It’s important to me to understand how different traffic patterns work, and how the quality of light shifts. The weirdos on the corner in the morning are not the same weirdos as the ones in the afternoon. The reflection off a building lights up a fruit cart for 4 golden minutes. This kind of observation and local knowledge excites me, and If I was working on a Girl Walk-style project in LA, I’d want to make it a project that locals could respect.
This takes us into the issue of location choice. In New York, we used a bunch of recognizable locations, from the Charging Bull sculpture to Central Park. But, in general, I was trying to capture an essence of New York without making it a list of tourist destinations. The Subway, Staten Island Ferry, Williamsburg Bridge, Wall Street area, Zucotti Park, Chinatown fruit markets–these are iconic New York spaces, but they’re not in the same category as the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building or FAO Schwartz.
Thanks to the movie industry, there are already a ton of places in LA that have achieved icon status. The Hollywood sign, Grauman’s Chinese Theater, and so on–all seem epic to me as an outsider but they also seem pretty cliche. I think I’d take this on by using these super recognizable spots as places we pass through rather than use as central backdrops. The extreme proximity of hills and ocean, wealth and destitution, fame and anonymity are more interesting subjects to me, and, given the sprawl of Los Angeles, I can imagine a tour using totally different transportation methods than we used in Girl Walk.
The first time I came to LA, I remember driving to the coast and heading North, stopping at some point to walk around an empty beach with a sort of beautiful, brutal, lunar landscape. It occurred to me how many faces Los Angeles has, spread across such a vast area. To an outsider, the city seems almost unknowable. In this way, the raw diversity that Los Angeles offers makes it a fascinating place to me, both as a subject for a film, and also a place to think about. This is the most important ingredient in Girl Walk: variety of flavor.
Well, that has us excited about the screening–not to mention the possibility of Jacob doing a project out here! For more information on tomorrow’s screening–which will include a dance performance by Anne Marsen (“The Girl”) and after party with Cradle Brat–check out the Girl Walk website for details. And, if you can’t make it to the screening, you can catch it in chapters here.