My first movie was The Hole Story. I hadn’t done any short films, and I didn’t go to film school, so I kind of dove into it. I guess that’s one of the reasons it took me years to make. We shot in Minnesota for nine days, and then I spent three years EDITING IT IN MY PARENTS’ BASEMENT IN NEWTON.
I met Lena [Dunham, creator and star of Girls] at South by Southwest in 2009. She was there with her first film; I was there with my third. We spent only five or 10 minutes talking, but I liked her a lot. I was also marveling that A 22-YEAR-OLD KID HAD A FEATURE FILM AT A MAJOR FESTIVAL. We got each others’ e-mail addresses and did some DVD swaps: I showed her some of my stuff and she showed me hers. We started hanging out in New York, and then she wrote a part for me in [her film] Tiny Furniture.
[With Girls] I NEVER EXPECTED THE SHOW WOULD BE AS SUCCESSFUL as it’s been. Its focus is so narrow that I didn’t know whether only girls between 23 and 26 would watch or only hipsters in Brooklyn. I was so proud of the show from the get-go because of how deeply ROOTED IN AUTHENTICITY it is, but I thought it might be a little too raw for people. Now I think people like the show for that very reason: It’s unfamiliar and refreshing.
I’m writing a few movies that I HOPE TO SHOOT SOON, after we wrap season three of Girls. One of them takes place on CAPE COD IN THE WINTER. Rubberneck[my movie out now] was shot entirely in Massachusetts, most of it in Medford. — As told to Rachel Deahl
Interview has been edited and condensed.