The Making of IRL

Grant Singer directs Sky Ferreira in an exclusive clip from his NY-centric short film

“There’s a big moment going on in New York right now that's become eclipsed by every other idea of what it's supposedly like to live in New York City,” says writer Patrik Sandberg. A new short film, IRL, was his response to those frustrations, a short film capturing the underside of the city in all its weirdness, darkness and urgency. Sandberg wrote the script and gathered an extended gang of New York friends and collaborators to star. Filmmaker Grant Singer got behind the camera, shooting guerrilla-style on the streets and subway, singer Sky Ferreira took the lead, and there were winningly deadpan cameos from Genesis P-Orridge and Damien Echols. Meanwhile, Sandberg’s pals John Holland (Salem), Aaron David Ross (Gatekeeper) and Matt Koshak (Starred) provided the score. To celebrate IRL’s world premiere at the Cannes Short Film Corner this month, Dazed brought Sandberg, Singer and producer Leigha Mason together to share their IRL stories. Genesis P Orridge wrote about his expieriences in the Tribes Issue of Dazed & Confused, and after watching the clip above, you should totally buy it from iTunes here.


As a New Yorker, I feel there is a huge disconnect between the reality of living here and what is commonly portrayed in movies and on television. What you often see is either a rose-tinted uptown fashionista situation, a gritty crime drama with bad racial stereotypes, a white-collar thriller highlighting corporate greed, or, perhaps worst of all, the self-effacing neurotic Brooklyn hipster archetype immortalised by a laundry list of independent films and MTV series, most recently in HBO's hit series Girls. I wanted to capture what excites me about Brooklyn and Chinatown right now. So I convinced Grant Singer to get on board with me to do a film.


We had this idea that we would cast the film before we wrote it, to create this weird world that straddles both fiction and non-fiction. So we hid in the hotel room and started casting. We got drunk, listened to Waka Flaka Flocka Flame… 


Grant asked me what the most terrifying thing is about living in New York and I immediately responded that it's the possibility of being shoved in front of a train. The plot is easily analogous to the experience of a hangover. In IRL, a girl named Angel, played by Sky Ferreira, wakes up barely recalling what happened the night before. She has a sneaking suspicion that somebody is following her, and when she finds out that a new friend has been brutally shoved in front of a train, her anxiety increases exponentially. Surrounded by her sycophantic and superficial friends, Angel begins to feel alienated and contemplates taking her safety into her own hands.

Some of the characters express my own anarchic or jaded personality traits, others represent the emptiness of internet culture – something I’m equal parts inspired and repulsed by. Probably tThe last two roles cast, Damien Echols's gun salesman and Genesis Breyer P-Orridge's punk-rock war veteran, turned into the most magnetic cameos I've ever seen. 

What you often see is either a rose-tinted uptown fashionista situation, a gritty crime drama with bad racial stereotypes, or the self-effacing neurotic Brooklyn hipster archetype.


Patrik wanted to write a movie about what it was really like to live in New York right now. It can be beautiful, but also vapid, dark, ugly, hilarious, absurd and psychotic. I quit my job at (clothing storepunk/kitsch clothing store) Trash & Vaudeville to work on the movie. We ended up shooting the rave scene in the basement of Nicola Formichetti's office because nobody else would have us. 


Hopefully in 20 years, when people like Sky Ferreira, Liza Thorn, Sandy Kim, Leigha Mason, Whitney Vangrin, Haley Wollens, John Holland, Aaron David Ross, Matt Koshak, Michael Borne, Damien Echols, and Grant Singer have dramatically changed the cultural landscape (of course, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge already has), IRL will be viewed as a surreal little treasure where in which all of these consequential figures came together to make something funny, scary, vapid, exciting, and kind of punk. 

Buy IRL from iTunes here.