Three years before Jay and Mark Duplass burst onto the independent film scene with their 2005 Sundance hit “The Puffy Chair,” the brothers collaborated on an astonishingly simple short film “This is John,” which may hold the record for lowest production budget of all time. The Duplasses once told The New York Times that the seven-minute short they shot on their parents’ video camera had a total production budget of $3 — the cost of the blank tape they purchased to shoot it.
Directed by Jay and starring Mark, the short features just one character in one location doing one thing — over and over. While that’s not exactly a spoiler, giving away anything more wouldn’t leave much left in terms of surprises. Despite its simplicity and low production value, the Sundance Film Festival accepted the short in 2003.
While the Duplasses have both moved on to bigger and better projects for film and TV, serving as writers, directors, actors and producers, they’ve managed to retain a bit of their small-scale sensibility. They’re currently re-teaming with HBO for the anthology comedy series “Room 104,” all of which is set in a single hotel room. Both brothers are executive producing and acting as showrunners on the project.
To watch “This is John” in its entirety, check out the video below.