Above: Mark and Jay Duplass. Photo by Daniel Bergeron
The Duplass brothers, Mark and Jay, have had a hell of a year already. They just signed a four-movie deal with Netflix and their show, “Togetherness”, on HBO will see another season. Not to mention they completely rocked at Sundance, screening three films and a TV pilot.
So it was pretty obvious that they would act as keynote speakers at the Producers Brunch at Sundance last month; in list form no less. Of their 10 tips the following stood out for me:
2. “Embrace the microbudget sphere,” said Mark. “It’s painful to be waiting around six years for a $20 million film. Instead, why not make a $150,000 movie where three-quarters of the points are shared with the crew. Just find a rich person to fund it!”
7. “Make movies, not meetings,” said Jay. So many Los Angeles film executives “have long-winded careers of lots of development meetings, but they don’t make movies.” Sure, filmmaking can be “terrifying and traumatic,” but “always jump off the cliff.“
8. Study up and use your “left brain, right brain,” said Mark. “Read the trades. Gain a knowledge of the industry. Knowledge is power.” He said he and Jay are constantly studying the trades to find potential partners.
“What’s interesting about our process is that it’s very instinctual. There’s not a whole lot of intellectual discussion. We write full, traditional scripts, but the actors are encouraged to own their roles, so while the plot of our stories never change, the words they use or how they go about dealing with characters is always up to them to deviate from the script if they want to. What normally happens is that it won’t be, ‘Oh, I don’t know about this.’ In the moment, they’ll use their instincts to shift and say something that feels either essentially female or essentially just their character, so it crosses not only gender lines but personality lines as well. It’s that type of trust and character ownership that, if we’re doing our jobs right, gives it that sense of naturalism and hopefully creates more organic chemistry among the characters.”
Jay had this to say when asked about the differences between film and their transition into television:
“We definitely move faster than we do on a traditional film shoot. But Mark and I have come from absolutely no budget, DIY filmmaking, so we’ve been in situations where we have to go into a restaurant that is fully functioning as a restaurant and get the scene in only two hours. The quick pace of television is a luxury to us. We’re also pretty adaptable. We go with the limits that we get, and in a lot of ways the quicker pace of TV gives you a nice momentum. You don’t get caught up in things too much. We’ve adapted to it pretty well, I think.”
Check out the trailer for Jay and Mark’s HBO series, “Togetherness”