'Nobody' comes to Minneapolis

Art students
"Nobody" features a group of students at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design who have many questions and opinions about art and life.
Image courtesy Cider Mills Pictures/Mark Higashino

It's a big week for Minnesota movies, and not just because of the Coen Brothers. Tonight in Minneapolis, the stars will walk the red carpet for the world premiere of "Nobody," a new comedy shot in and around a well-known Twin Cities art school.

"Nobody" starts with some serious questions about the nature of art.

"You wanna hear a really dumb story?" asks a disembodied voice at the start of the film. "Well I saved up every penny I had, took out huge loans, got two jobs so I could be a starving artist. Or more specifically, so I could go to school so that one day I could maybe be a starving artist."

Meet Lindeman, a student who, in his final year of art school, realizes he's not sure why he's doing what he is doing.

The story is the brainchild of rock musician Ryan Miller, and Rob Perez, the screenwriter of the Josh Hartnett vehicle "40 Days and 40 Nights." Perez says "Nobody" is a comedy about the people who consider themselves serious artists.

"Anyone who takes themselves too seriously deserves a little poke in the belly," Perez said. "And I include myself in that category, and often need the reminder. So it sort of came from there."

Perez and Rosen
Rob Perez and Sam Rosen, the director and star of "Nobody." Perez says he chose Rosen for the role before making any other hires in the film because the story was built around him.
MPR photo/Euan Kerr

Perez directed the film, which sends his hero on a series of misadventures as he tries to find himself as an artist and a person. Along the way he consults his fellow students, who Perez admits are all strangely recognizable: there's the self described intellectual, the couple who see everything as art, and the activist performer who sees personal hygiene as bourgeois.

"Legally I'm suppose to say, 'No, all of those people are absolutely not real people,' and if you stay toward the end of the movie you will see a legal disclaimer. But in reality ..." Perez said, his voice trailing off at the implication.

"Anyone who takes themselves too seriously deserves a little poke in the belly. And I include myself in that category."

Sitting across the table from Perez is Sam Rosen, who not only plays the central character, he's playing with his phone while wearing the studio headphones.

"I was taking a picture of myself with the cans on," he said. "I was just trying to document this whole experience."

It's the kind of thing that his character Lindeman would do.

"Being a struggling actor myself," Rosen said, "I understand the struggle and the search for inspiration, and the questioning of why you are doing it at some points and what it is you are trying to even do, all those things work pretty well for me."

Both Rosen and Perez have Hollywood connections now, but "Nobody" is very much a Minneapolis film. Local celeb Josh Hartnett is an executive producer, many local actors appear in the film and much of it was shot between terms at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

The film will have its world premiere at the State Theater Thursday evening, then it will run across the street at the Block E theaters.

The students gather to critique the ceramics made by one of their friends. They can't understand why she would be interested in making plates and mugs
Image courtesy Cider Mills Pictures/Mark Higashino

Perez said they hope the film builds an audience though word of mouth, enough to get broader distribution. He also said he's not worried that the film is opening the same week as the other Minneapolis film, the Coen Brothers' "A Serious Man."

"Our movie is a very silly movie," he said. "So I don't think our audiences are going to step on each other."

Of course, he said he wouldn't object if people want to go see both.

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