2007_10_david_wain.jpgLong time New York resident David Wain is currently on location in LA, working on his latest film, Little Big Men, starring Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott. Wain's been spending a lot of time in LA due to his career, but, don't worry, he doesn't plan on moving there anytime soon. In fact, the only place the star of Stella and The State plans on moving is Brooklyn. In this Gothamist Q and A, the director of Wet Hot American Summer and The Ten talks about what it's like to film in New York and Wainy Days, his foray into intentional Internet shorts on MyDamnChannel.com .

Are you in LA at the moment?
I’m in LA right now. I’m driving to work. I’m shooting a movie out here.

And is this Little Big Men that you’re working on?
That is the current title, which is likely to change. We don’t know what the title is yet

And was there any time that you thought you were remaking the Dustin Hoffman film from 1970?
No [chuckles] It has nothing to do with anything like that which is part of the reason why it’s not the title

And what is it that attracted to this particular project?
Well, for this particular project it was really primarily the work of Paul Rudd, because he is someone I’ve worked with in the past a lot and I just think he’s the best and he was involved with this project before I was. And, you know, the opportunity to work with him is something I will always want to do.

Now the premise of the film is that some wild behavior leads two beer reps to enroll in a big brother program-
Actually, that’s not what the movie is about anymore. The movie has sort of been evolved and has changed a lot since someone wrote that on IMDB. It’s actually about these two energy drink salesmen who through a series of circumstances, and no longer wild behavior, end up in this mentoring program. I think a lot of what I’ve drawn from in writing and directing this movie is my experience being a summer camp counselor, which I did a lot of, especially with these characters that are kind of out of their element. They have a lot of growing up to do and now suddenly they have to have a somewhat parental role towards these younger kids, which is exactly what it’s like when you have a 16 year old and you slap them into the role of a summer camp counselor and suddenly you have little kids looking after them as though they were the adults, which in retrospect, is quite ironic.

Are you participating in the re-writes of the script?
Yes. There have been a lot of writers over the period of time that the movie has been in development. My writing partner, Ken Marino, and I along with Paul Rudd have written the draft of the script that we’re shooting.

And you have this other film that you’re currently attached to, Seniors. When is it that you will begin to work on that?
Seniors is one of many films that are in development that I have been working on. It’s possible that it would shoot after this. It’s also possible that another film I have been working on, called The Sterns would be next. There’s also a few other things.

When will you be filming the second season of Wainy Days?
That begins shooting soon. Like next week I think. And the new episodes will air sometime in November, every Monday.

How is that you got involved with My Damn Channel ?
Well I kinda vaguely knew Rob Barnett over the years, the creator of My Damn Channel and he got in touch with me and explained the premise of the website, which I really loved. They finance the creation of these webisodes and give absolutely no creative input of any kind. I also own the material, and it was also great to work in that format, which I haven’t done really since the Stella shorts years ago, sorta pre-the web being a real venue for a short film like that. In fact those shorts were not even made for the Internet, but they wound up being one of the early internet short phenomenon things. So it’s been really fun, especially now that I’ve been making my first studio movie where we’re spending millions of dollars, and there’s like 50 people on the crew to do everything. With Wainy Days, it’s a much more flexible, lower stakes, smaller and easier affair where we just try different things.

And how does working with a large studio compare with your previous endeavors?
Well in some ways I’m surprised with how similar it is. The daily challenges of trying to figure out the best way to visually tell the story and create the comedy between the actors, and the camera is the same. The camera is actually exactly the same. Obviously this budget is ten times what I’ve worked with before so, it’s just a lot more resources, and a lot more time. There are certain perks with things you get to do that would just be impossible to do with an independent film. On the other hand, with smaller budgets, necessity becomes the mother of invention and you find clever ways to solve problems when you don’t just have money to throw out

And what’s an example of when a smaller budget has led you to be inventive?
I think that the most common one is when you go into a day with sort of a complicated fancy way that you’re going to shoot some scene with fancy shots and all sorts of stuff, but when the reality hits and you just don’t have time, you have to find a way to do it still. Like instead of doing something that would require you have to do it in five shots, you’ll have to do it in one. So sometimes a more simple, elegant solution will emerge out of that. Or another example is you can’t afford a location that you want to shoot something so you have to find a less obvious place. When I was working on Wet Hot American Summer we were supposed to shoot a scene outside but it was raining and there was no other way to do it, so we shoot inside a shack and then it became a different kind of scene, a better scene, even.

With your experience making shorts that ended up on the internet, what do you think it takes to create a successful short for the internet medium?
You know, it’s funny because I don’t really know because I haven’t studied the marketplace very much, but my sense is that they need to be short and definitely needs to be funny. I don’t think people are going to the Internet to be dramatically moved in three minutes. And I think they need to be simple and easy to grasp, but at the same time they need to be visually grabbing you in someway because you have to realize that, for most people, Internet shorts are not about, “I’m going to sit down at my computer and put on my headphones and watch,” but it’s more of “Hey! Look at this thing I saw!” or you’re at your office doing about ten things at once and are like, “Hey, let’s look at this film.” I kind of make it with that in mind and definitely keep it down in pace which is sort of my taste.

How do you think the Internet's emphasis on shorter length and smaller mediums, when it comes to cell phones, affects the comedy itself?
There’s always different media and different generations of it. I have not personally taken an interest in making anything that short yet. I’ve also never really worked with commercials or anything like that yet, so I think every project or every creative thing has it’s own natural rhythm and length. Like when I make a feature film, it feels like it should be about 90 minutes, and when I make a short for the internet, it feels like it should be about three to five minutes. And if somebody came up to me and was like “Hey, here’s an opportunity to make a bunch of 30 second comedy shorts.” I would consider what that would be like. Personally I don’t watch things on my cell phone, but then again I was sure at one point I would never get a cell phone, and now I have one.

Are there any other pieces of technology that you didn’t think you would ever have and now you suddenly find that you got it?
Well, then for ten years I had a cell phone, and I said to myself I will never get a Blackberry. I don’t need one, it’s too much and I don’t want to be that connected to people, but I just got one. Progress marches on, right? There are many inventions of the past several years that I don’t know how I could live without, like headphones and TiVo and the cell phone.

With Blackberries and cell phones, what do you think of technology making possible for someone to always be reachable?
I think that it’s a very, very sharp double edged sword. I think that in some ways it really saves time and makes you more productive and if used correctly, those kinds of technologies can help you save time on the mundane things in life and spend more time on the things that really matter. You can answer your emails while you’re in transit somewhere and then you don’t have to go home and do email for an hour at night, and you can spend that time at the opera or whatever. Obviously it’s in practice in the office, but that’s not always that case. I’m checking and reading my email so much more often that I think that leads to me getting and sending email more often.

I went on a trip recently where I was whitewater rafting for three days, where there was no ability to use email or Internet or telephone. It was unprecedented, surreal and kind of orgasmically euphoric. I hope to do that often.

Wainy Days was filmed in New York. What is you experience with working in the city?
I’ve lived in the city for twenty years and I’ve worked there the whole time and I love it. I love the community of some people and I just like working around the streets. I loved that working in movies and TV has supported me with the opportunity to see so many parts of NYC that I wouldn’t have had a reason to see. Like going throughout the five boroughs and Long Island and New Jersey and going upstate. You just meet all kinds of interesting people all around New York. You just get a greater, greater exposure to the diversity of New York and I love that.

And do you have a particular, strangest, only in New York sort of moment?
Usually when I think of NY though, it’s often cold or hot. That’s my one complaint about NY. Like when we shot Stella it was one of the hottest summers in ’05 and I was wearing a suit the whole time and we were out on the streets mostly or in very, very hot locations that had no air conditioning. Or in our sound stage, which also had a broken air conditioning. And so I remember just being like boiling hot every second in those suits and very miserable.

And did you try and come up with any tricks to just cool yourself down?
One of the things that I kind of perfected was the breakaway suit technique, which was the second the camera went off the jacket, the shirt and the tie came off. I knew how to get it on in one second, so right before the camera started rolling again it was on. But beyond that it was just like, “Sweat it out, guys!” And then, of course, when you’re working on a low budget, you would go in at night and be editing all night. It was sort of romantic actually. I was in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, which is a neighborhood I never really knew about until we did that show. So I would walk around and find these little outpost coffee shops. Another great thing with filming in NY is that you can take advantage of the NY five borough tax credit, so our of necessity you end up finding all of these kind of far off locations of all different sorts within the five boroughs. Whether it was suburban environment or rural environment, we did it all within the city and that was a lot of fun.

Given the opportunity how would you change NY?
To state the fairly obvious, I would triple in size the public transportation system and find ways to cut down on traffic. I think that automobile travel should be for emergencies only. We have such a small, cool little island and it’s one of the greatest places in the world. The lifestyle of New York is so great because you can walk anywhere and spending all of this time in LA, I really miss it. But with so much traffic, it gets kind of ruined.

Under what circumstances do you think you would leave New York?
I don’t know. I’m about to have my first child and I’m moving to Brooklyn. I’ve lived in Greenwich Village for 20 years. There’s a lot of pressure on my career to move to LA, but I have no interest in doing that. The creative environment and vibe in NY is so much more preferable to me that I just can’t imagine relocating here, although I may be spending a lot of time here depending on what kinds of jobs I can get.

And is there a particular New Yorker that you admire the most?
My girlfriend, Zandy. Born and bred on the upper west side, made it through and never left.

And your courtship was documented on the show Wainy Days.
Well, very fictionalized. And what happens in season 2 will be even more fictionalized.

And how much is the character of David Wain in Wainy Days like the real life David Wain?
I’m going to be honest and say about 70%. The real part is that I like making out and that it’s a silly version of real feelings and experiences I’ve had in my life about dating. Although, truthfully, I’ve been directing this movie out in LA and so I’ve actually farmed out all of the writing and everything almost from the start so its’ a little less of a personal expression than it has been.

What do you consider to be the perfect day of recreation in New York?
Well I love running on the west side pier. So a great day of recreation would be to do that and meet people on the 10th street pier, hang out and then walk around somewhere and get some ice cream and maybe some food. Simple relaxing things would be my dream, especially since I’ve been working every day for three years lately. I can’t wait to have time off.