Hailing from Shaker Heights, Ohio, David Wain knew from a very early age that New York City was the only place in the world he could ever call home. Twenty years and one prolific career later, there's no turning back: this city shapes every part of the writer/director/actor/comedian/producer's industrious life.
"I wanted to be where Woody Allen is and Saturday Night Live took place", Wain recalls. "You know, Woody Allen is just like, my big hero". While David's vocation proved more an "organic continuum" of the skits he'd honed since childhood with the "earliest ever home-camera", the city played an inimitable role.
Take NYU's campus, site of David's film studies, and simultaneously, of his MTV series The State. The unassuming over-achiever, who co-created, directed, and performed in the comedic cult-hit, recalls "I didn't really realize that that was my career until I realized that I could actually do this and not have to get another job".
The artist's boundless creativity has ever since hinged on New York's copious coffee shops—his locations of choice for writing and relaxing. It was one such neighborhood haunt, the bustling west-village café Doma, which inspired the David Wain's Super Fun Amazing Coffee Shop, in an episode of his Comedy Central series Stella.
Wain gathers inspiration for his "left of center" humor less from the hermetic environment of galleries and museums than from open city environs, where the people watching is easy and a "homey little find without a corporate voice" is highly prized. With precocious-childlike enthusiasm, the New Yorker lionizes simple city pleasures, from Chelsea Pier's popsicle vendors—"what more can you want"—to the pretty staff of the town's plentiful bars and restaurants.
However, it was in Los Angeles where he and co-writer Ken Marino entered a seven-day manuscript marathon, resulting in the first draft of his second film as writer/director—The Ten—slated for theatres August 3rd. In the author's own words, "It was an experiment in writing: can we lock ourselves up for a crazy week and emerge with a first draft and the answer was yes"!
This quirky offering with a stellar cast premiered to a teeming mob scene at Sundance 2007. "Sundance was crazy this year, I can't say it was all good, it was almost too much but it was fun, and it was exciting, and exhilarating" Wain muses. The Ten is these ten, crazy silly stories. Each story is inspired by one of the Ten Commandments. The characters interweave and overlap throughout the stories held together by the narrator character played by Paul Rudd, who ends up having his own moral quandaries. "I think it's a pretty cool, unusual, funny comedy".
This film's clever premise, and the uncanny casting of Winona Ryder in the episode entitled "Thou Shalt Not Steal" are mere samplings of what to expect. Like his first film Wet Hot American Summer, this satire is certain to convert more followers to the cult of Wain. Yet, it is the director himself who appears rapt as he recounts shooting, an experience that he calls "a blast": "Every actor comes in and it's like, 'Oh my God'. What they did made it incredible. I love actors and I love working with them". If a cast also boasting Liev Schreiber, Jessica Alba and Gretchen Mol is any gauge, actors love him back!
What's not to love? With a wry smile, boyish charm and razor wit, it's no wonder Wain is constantly engaged in a variety of projects, in so many capacities. The prodigious polymath, who combines the commonly daunting tasks of writing, directing, acting and editing as if they were child's play, has had to learn to delegate. "I'm used to doing things on such a tiny scale that I also have to be, like, who's going to pick up the van and all that. I'm trying to say, no, I want to be creative, somebody else decide when to pick up the van".
Wain warns, however, that he can get a little "controlling" in his art. "I don't let go of a project. I think a film is only as good as how personally involved the director gets in each aspect of it"—a standard for success, and one with which his hero would certainly agree.
They have concerts and classes here at night. Its just got a really amazing vibe. I discovered it when I was caught in the rain with a bunch of friends on a Saturday. …more
They grow much of their own food, and it's just one of those places where everything is perfect. …more
It's just like being at a Nantucket lobster stand. My favorite thing ever growing up, and still is, is your classic boiled lobster with a big thing of butter. …more
They cook a big thanksgiving-size turkey everyday and then they just carve from it to make sandwiches, and they have incredible bread. …more
Doma has mismatched furniture, books on the shelves, and amazing food. They even sponsor an Ethiopian kid. …more
Flor's Kitchen is a Venezuelan restaurant. They have the best breakfast: eggs, some kind of pork, and this amazing baked bread called arepas. …more