In Quiet City, Aaron Katz's disarming second feature, two disconnected like-souls meet by chance in New York, and over the course of an indelibly laid-back romance, turn the city into a reverent, almost sleepy burg—more freshman dorm over winter break than city that never sleeps. Arriving herself in our very own sleepy berg via Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, first-time actress Sarah Hellman lends her unguarded performance to an impressive non-actor ensemble that includes mumblecore wunderkind Joe Swanberg. This weekend at the Oak Street Cinema, Hellman and Katz (whose excellent debut Dance Party, USA is also showing), will introduce Quiet City at a pair of screenings. Hellman chatted with City Pages via email.
City Pages: How did you get involved with Quiet City?
Sarah Hellman: Aaron and Brendan [McFadden, producer] have been friends of mine for a while. Actually, I think it's only been about four years, but it feels like much longer than that. According to Aaron, when writing the script for Quiet City, he wrote the part of Robin with me in mind. Later, they asked me if I would be interested in playing that part. I was terrified/excited, and obviously I ended up saying yes. Actually it was more like, "Are you kidding?! Yes, definitely!" Although I did suggest they have a 'plan B' in mind in case I got to New York and turned out to be really terrible.
CP: One of my favorite scenes in the film is at the party where your character describes a moment that's very innocent and sweet, but also very intimate. Tell me about shooting that scene.
SH: That scene was very different in the script. Aaron and I worked through a different story, which was based on the time I spent with this guy several years ago. Because it was in many ways a very personal story, that scene was probably the hardest for me. But I wanted to put myself on the line like that, to really take a risk, hoping that it would result in as honest a moment as possible. The story that this scene is based on involves a person with whom I am no longer friends, although knowing him was more catalyzing for me that I might like to admit. The experience of shooting that scene—taking bits of that memory and pasting them back together to make something completely new—it was very therapeutic, in a way. When we were done, Andy [Reed, Director of Photography] mentioned that he felt almost guilty filming it, like he was eavesdropping on something he wasn't supposed to hear. It was the best thing he could have said to me.
CP: How does it feel to know that you now have a credit on imdb.com?
See Aaron Katz and actress Sarah Hellman tonight at a screening of Quiet City.
Sun., Sept. 30, 7:15 & 9:15 p.m., 2007