Over the past month we've been premiering No Your City, an 8-part series documenting 8 different New Yorkers you may or may not be familiar with through your travels around the city. A shoe shiner, a Spider-Man, a street artist—"characters who thrive on the street and have unique relationships to the city." The man behind the lens is Nicolas Heller, and below he tells us a little bit about the series—he's currently working on the second season now.
In February of 2013, I escaped NYC for Los Angeles where my goal was to continue a career in directing music videos. A month into my stay, I realized I didn’t want to make music videos, nor did I want to be living in Los Angeles. I stuck it out for another 5 months, then moved back to NYC with a far greater appreciation for the city I grew up in. I came up with the idea for No Your City simply because I wanted to incorporate the city and its inhabitants into my filmmaking.
Do you have any anecdotes from shooting—did anything of note happen on any of the shoots? I think the most noteworthy thing that happened was when I was shooting at 2 a.m. with Spider-Man. He picked up a hooker and her customer at St. Marks. It was an extra bumpy ride so the woman kept moaning like she was having an orgasm. Afterwards she made Shaun take her to buy pizza. She bought us slices. She was a very generous hooker.
How did you pick the 8 chosen for the first season of the series? The first person I approached was Te’Devan. I had seen him around Union Square for about 10 years. I was always curious as to what his deal was, but too intimidated to talk to him. It was my desire to quit music videos and move in to docs that motivated me to speak with him. The remaining 7 characters were people who I bumped into on the street and wanted to learn more about.
There has been some criticism that there have been no women in the first season, do you want to comment on that? The series was developed to showcase a wide array of infamous New York City street characters and show how they thrive off the city and the city thrives off of them. The intention of the series was to showcase a group of men and women, but we quickly found that female street characters were far more difficult to come by during the filming of Season 1. As No Your City was developed to be an ongoing series, Season 1 by itself is by no means meant to showcase all New Yorkers. As the series continues to release new content, viewers will be able to see the diverse group of infamous characters that the series was developed to showcase. We are determined to feature an array of subjects that everyone can relate to.