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Attention, Filmmakers: 5 Lessons from Mark and Jay Duplass

Attention, Filmmakers: 5 Lessons from Mark and Jay Duplass

READ MORE: SXSW: Mark Duplass’ 8 Improvised Tips for Success in the Film Industry

The article in this month’s Wired magazine is entitled “How an Unlikely Hollywood Juggernaut Came to Rule Netflix,” but it could easily have been “Here’s Why The Duplass Brothers Are So Busy” or, more simply, “Mark and Jay Duplass Are Super-Awesome.”

Writer Jason Tanz chronicles the brothers’ rise to fame (at least among indie film fans) and notes how they are helping to groom a new breed of DIY filmmakers who make films the Duplass Brothers way — that is, reliant on original characters, but not big budgets.

Among the films that the Duplass men have been associated with over the past few years alone are film festival staples such as “The One I Love,” “Tangerine,” “Manson Family Vacation,” “The Overnight,” “6 Years,” “The Skeleton Twins,” “Creep,” “Adult Beginners,” “Safety Not Guaranteed” and “The Bronze” and that’s not even counting “Togetherness,” the TV show they created for HBO, or the upcoming animated series “Animals.”

Their knack for finding talent and getting projects off the ground has earned them a four-picture deal with Netflix, and that’s on top of their overall two-year deal with HBO and seven-picture deal with The Orchard.

So what’s the secret of their success? Obviously, they’re hardworking and good at recognizing talent and collaborating. But, per the Wired article, they have some other lessons to share.

1. Failure can teach you a lesson. Learn from it.

After their directorial debut “Vince Del Rio” turned out to be “a steaming pile of dog diarrhea” in the words of Mark, they were left with “no money, no prospects, and a harrowing lack of faith in their filmmaking abilities,” per Wired. But rather than giving up, the temporary failure spurred them to return to the way they made films when they were kids, “fast and cheap and off-the-cuff.” The result was “This Is John,” a 7-minute film that was accepted into Sundance.

2. If something works, do it again. But push the limits a bit more.

After “This Is John” was well received at Sundance, the brothers stuck with their “fast and cheap and off-the-cuff” style for their next project, the feature film “The Puffy Chair,” which went on to do the festival circuit and attract Hollywood attention.

3. Don’t wait for permission to make your movie (or for a big payday).

“The calvary isn’t coming,” as Mark Duplass said in his rousing keynote at SXSW earlier this year before delivering the good news: “Who gives the fuck about the cavalry? You are the cavalry.”

4. Seek out and nurture talent in other filmmakers.

Rather than simply focusing on their own projects, the Duplass Brothers have helped further the careers of other indie filmmakers, including Hannah Fidell (“6 Years”) Patrick Brice (“Creep,” “The Overnight”) and J. Davis (“Manson Family Vacation”). And unlike conventional Hollywood projects which can linger in limbo for years, the Duplass’ push to get these projects out into the world and seen as soon as possible. “They know how to get a film made, and they know how to get it seen,” Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, told Indiewire.

5. Embrace VOD and TV and get your films seen by any means necessary.

“Not all movies are movies you want to spend $14 on—and not all movies are movies you want to spend $10 on for ultra VOD, or even $6.99 on renting,” Mark Duplass told Wired. He explained: “‘The One I Love’ came out in theaters for the enthusiasts and did a chunk of business on VOD. But when it started streaming on Netflix, it exploded. Same thing with ‘Safety Not Guaranteed.’ I’m kind of homing in on this model.”

It’s not about where the film is seen, but that it is seen at all. “One thing I was immediately attracted to is there is no preciousness about distribution with them,” Sarandos told Wired. “They want people to see their movies, and they are willing to break glass to get people to see them.”

Read the full Wired story here.

READ MORE: This Is How You Do It: 10 Filmmaking Tips from Mark and Jay Duplass

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