“Nobody Walks” Director Ry Russo-Young Discusses Sound and Film

Inside the Sonos Studio, an excitable audience is seated, ready to view the newest film by award-winning director Ry Russo-Young (You Won’t Miss Me, Orphans).

Nobody Walks was co-written by Girls creator Lena Dunham and features music by the acclaimed Brooklyn band Fall On Your Sword. The film tells the story of Martine, a New Yorker who comes to Los Angeles to stay with a Silver Lake family while finishing the sound design for her short film.

Says Young, “Mom always said ‘write what you know’ and that made a lot of sense to me, especially when I was just starting out. Usually by the time a personal experience gets to the screen it’s changed so much, it’s become completely separate from the original inspiration but the emotional truth is still there and that’s what I care about capturing.”

Young’s story of an Eggers-era Los Angeles family follows its members’ many misadventures in love and lust, both public and personal. And perhaps the most interesting exploration of the characters’ intimate and often vulnerable moments is the way it’s represented through sound. In Young’s last film, You Won’t Miss Me, the audio was unusable, so sounds for entire scenes had to be created from scratch. Because Young and Fall on Your Sword’s Bates had worked together on that film, they carried on their inspired curiosity. Emotion through ambient sound plays a prominent role in the characters throughout Nobody Walks.

Olivia Thirlby said that sound can be very intimate and I think she was really right. When two people stop and truly listen to all the sounds around them, the small sounds we normally tune out, it’s like they’re sharing a secret together. It’s a little bit like having an affair with someone, a private world opens up that only the two of you have access to.”

After the credits rolled, the audience enjoyed a brief Q&A with Young and Fall On Your Sword member Will Bates. The two discussed the creative process of film scoring, their shared curiosity for the “sounds all around us,” and their collaborative dynamic. Young quipped, “It’s not about ideas anymore so much as trying different things and playing around to see what we like.”

Young’s next project is a film in a new genre, without revealing much, she did say “it’s personal and character driven but also goes to places I’ve never been in a film which gives me a thrill.”

No sooner than the crowd had finished asking questions, Fall On Your Sword settled into a DJ set, replete with unreleased disco singles and some odd-yet-hilarious VJ loops.

This was the 3rd of 4 events in the Expression exhibition cycle. Visit to sign-up for e-mail alerts and attend the next event.