Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Peter Sollett

New York City at night is full of romance, adventure, and a hint of the unpredictable. In “Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist,” a boy and girl embark on an evening of music that neither will ever forget.

Chance to Relive a Night

For Andrew Miano and Kerry Kohansky, producers of this quirky romantic comedy, “Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist” was a chance to relive a night where parents and school are far out of mind and the night holds endless possibilities.

“Kerry and I read this book probably three years ago and we bought it because we just loved the story.” says Miano, whose previous collaborations with Kohansky include The Golden Compass and American Dreamz. “We'd each had a night like it in high school or college. We thought a lot of people would be able to relate to that moment when you have a magical night with a person you might never see again.”

Nostalgia for Youth

Like the film's main characters, Kohansky grew up in the suburbs, driving into the city in pursuit of the hottest new bands and boys. “When I read the book, it was with an incredible sense of nostalgia for being that age,” she says. “When you're a senior in high school, life revolves around being in love and being with your friends. Everything feels so serious and so real and so complex. Nothing is ever black and white. Nick and Norah brought me back to those years.

Eternal Memories

“Most people can tell stories of that one unforgettable night that they had,” she continues. “It didn't matter who you were, it didn't matter what tomorrow was. It was all about that night and spending the hours together, maybe going to a club, or listening to music or whatever, and never knowing if you would ever see that person again. “Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist” is really about these memories that will last forever. I think people who see this movie will look back and say, 'I get it.'”

Miano says he wanted to recreate the feeling he had when he first saw some of the iconic movies of the 1980s. “There are movies that I grew up with like the John Hughes movies or Say Anything where I walked out of the movie and I felt like I had actually lived through those two hours,” says Miano. “You went along for the ride with these people and you were emotionally satisfied at the end. It made you happy because you cared enough about the characters to be glad when they got together.

“And that's the ride we wanted to create,” he continues. “We want audiences to walk out of the movie feeling that little tingle of magic because it could happen to them or it did happen to them. That's the goal, to have people want to tell their friends about the great ride that they just went on.”

Insightful Portraits of Youth

“Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist” is based on the novel of the same name, written by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan. Cohn is well known for her realistic and insightful portraits of teen girls, while Levithan has been a pioneer in the genre of young adult literature. In their first collaboration, the authors conjured up a mysterious, magical New York night that brings together two reluctant romantics who may very well be destined for each other.

The novel provided the filmmakers with rich source material from which to build their movie. “The characters of Nick and Norah are so complex,” says Kohansky. “And their voices come directly from the book. All the stuff was there. All we had to do was add some layers of conflict by playing up the fact that Norah's friend Caroline gets lost.

“In the beginning, we took the narrative from the book and tried to use it as voiceover, but we ended up not using any of it,” she says. “The voices of the characters were so strong in the book and the screenplay that we realized we didn't need it. You know, when Norah sees Nick at the club and decides he's the guy she's going go up to and kiss, you know exactly what the two of them are thinking.”

The producers approached Peter Sollett, a rising young director who had already been honored at the Cannes and Deauville film festivals. “There's a short list of people you really want to work with and Pete was on ours,” says Miano. “When we described the story to him, he thought it sounded awesome¬É¬?New York, music, the whole thing. He called us right back and said he was in.”

East Side and Downtown New York

Kohansky, who attended NYU with Sollett, calls the decision to have him direct the film “a no-brainer.” His previous feature, “Raising Victor Vargas” was a critical success and a favorite of both producers. “And it was about a boy and a girl from the Lower East Side meeting and falling for each other,” she says. “We have these two bridge-and-tunnel kids going into the city and having this romp. We just felt that he knew the territory and the way he gets you to fall in love with the characters made him perfect for this project. Pete just did a phenomenal job with it. He is so into the music that he was able to make choices that were absolutely fitting.”

Sollett was immediately attracted to the script because, he says, it was so much like the way he was spending his time in New York. “I was in between films” says the director. “I didn't have to be up early in the morning. For the first time in my life, I was really able taking advantage of how much nightlife New York City has to offer. I recognized a lot of places and experiences that I had been enjoying at the time.”

But the script resonated with the director on a deeper level as well. “There's an aspect of the film that is about being 18 and falling in love,” he says. “I immediately responded to that as well, because when I was in college, I met somebody I really liked a lot. At the time, I was a bridge-and-tunnel kid and she was living in Manhattan. Every night I'd go to see her and I'd stay with her until about two or three in the morning. And then I'd have to get out of Manhattan to go home. One of the themes in the script is making the most out of every hour of that late night fun time period.”

Over the course of the evening, Nick and Norah cruise the streets of New York, first following the clues to the location of Where's Fluffy's performance, then trying to find Norah's missing friend Caroline. “It's a sort of magical journey through New York City,” Miano says. “Over the course of one night these two kids are searching for their favorite band, and they also fall in love. But it's like the night conspires to keep them apart. There are all these obstacles. The adventure really begins when the boys agree to take Caroline home.”

“The trick to making the story work was simply to have characters the audience could relate to,” says Sollett. “It's not very difficult to paint scenarios that audience members can imagine themselves being in. If even one of the characters in the scene feels a little bit like you, or they're in a situation that you can relate to, suddenly things start to get funny.
“For example,” he says, “when Nick and Norah are suddenly alone in a small automobile and realize that they are very attracted to one another, it is a very relatable situation, sort of like a blind date.

“The film actually says a very simple thing,” according to Sollett. “If you can find the courage to allow yourself to be seen as the person you really are, then you stand a chance of finding just how much you have in common with someone else.

“What Nick and Norah have in common is a dedication to the shield that they've built around themselves,” continues the director. “During the night, they put lots of individual cracks into each other's facades and all these little cracks lead them toward a nontraditional love scene, in which they slowly allow themselves to drop the guard that they've been maintaining all night. And that emotional journey is the one that both Nick and Norah are on in the film.”