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The Influence

From the micro-budgeted “The Puffy Chair” to the studio-funded comedies "Cyrus" and "Jeff, Who Lives at Home," Mark and Jay Duplass have impressively managed to retain the same loose and freehand vibe that characterized their breakout effort. They're a rare case of going big without selling out.

Both University of Texas grads, the Duplass brothers launched their careers with the Sundance-accepted short “This Is John,” and returned with their debut feature, “The Puffy Chair,” in 2005.

Cut to five years later and the two released their first Fox Searchlight-funded effort “Cyrus” – a partnership that's remained in place (the company released their long-shelved micro-budget comedy "The Do-Deca-Pentathlon").

With the work chemistry of the Coen Brothers, but more self-aware (the two recently played holistic midwifing specialists opposite Mindy Kaling in her sitcom “The Mindy Project”), Mark and Jay have cultivated a distinctively humorous and deadpan style that has attracted everyone from Susan Sarandon, who starred in “Jeff, Who Lives at Home,” to HBO, which recently gave the go-ahead on the pilot for their original series pitch "Togetherness."

Biggest Success

The popularity of "The Puffy Chair" at Sundance in 2005. “Going from struggling and making short films to having a packed house laugh at our movie and get it – we cried a lot during that screening,” Jay said.

Biggest Disappointment

Figuring out where to go next after that personal and professional high. “You think that if you get to the top of the mountain everything will be great,” Mark said, “but then once you get there, you go, ‘What do I do now?’ It’s confusing."

Biggest Challenge

Transitioning from working with a small group of good friends on micro-budget indies to working with Fox Searchlight on "Cyrus." "It was a long process of trying to figure out how to grow our art," Mark said.

What's Next

The two just completed their HBO pilot. Meanwhile, Mark's acting career -- he has a recurring role on F/X's "The League" -- is on a roll, as he's next slated to work opposite Melissa McCarthy and his "Jeff, Who Lives at Home" star Susan Sarandon in the comedy "Tammy."

The Survey
My Biggest Career Break...
"The Puffy Chair" getting into Sundance.
Best Filmmaker Working Today...
Kenneth Lonergan
A Guilty Pleasure Movie...
"Dumb and Dumber"
My First Job...
Working the front counter and shirt press machine at Deluxe Cleaners, our family business in New Orleans since 1939.
The age that Jay got his first job
Attended this year by Jay
The average amount that Jay travels for work each year
Jay has been to the Sundance Film Festival