David Lynch once launched a one-man awards campaign for Laura Dern’s “Inland Empire” performance. At the cross streets of Hollywood Boulevard and La Brea in Los Angeles, Lynch famously sat in a director’s chair in between a cow and an FYC banner for Dern. While not as strange, Mark Duplass has gone full Lynch this year by kickstarting his own one-man FYC campaign on behalf of his “Paddleton” co-star Ray Romano (via the Los Angeles Times).
Duplass was spotted at various locations throughout Hollywood on Friday, November 15 posing for photographs with his handmade FYC posters. One sign read “Everybody still loves Raymond,” while others included slogans like “4 Ur Conside-Ray-Shun!” and “Vote 4 Ray!” Duplass campaigned for Romano at Hollywood & Highland, Sunset Boulevard, and the offices of Film Independent.
Duplass co-wrote “Paddleton” along with director Alex Lehmann. The movie stars Duplass and Romano as best friends who embark on a life-changing road trip after Duplass’ character gets diagnosed with terminal cancer. “Paddleton” debuted at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival before hitting Netflix on February 22. The film, made for less than $1 million, earned strong reviews (89% on Rotten Tomatoes). Realizing Netflix would not be launching any awards campaign for “Paddleton,” Duplass took it on himself to personally campaign for Romano.
“There’s this good little Catholic boy in me that says, ‘Mark, you’re an independent filmmaker that should be — or could be — broke. You have a great living. Netflix is putting out your movies to millions of viewers. Boo-hoo, it’s not many more millions and there are no awards. Shut up. Go home and write another movie,’” Duplass told the Times. “But I think this is what it is: There is this part of my heart that is so tied to the DNA of what this kind of movie is. There is this piece of me that says, ‘I don’t think I can beat this, and if this isn’t enough, I don’t know what is.’”
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Duplass said that when he told Romano of his plan to campaign, he got the sense that Romano felt it was “desperate and weird.” Duplass does not disagree. Both actors are featured in high profile projects this fall. Romano plays a supporting role in Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” while Duplass is a main character on the Apple TV+ drama “The Morning Show” and stars as Megyn Kelly’s husband in the upcoming “Bombshell.”
“When I ask Ray Romano to come do a movie like this and sleep in a not really nice hotel and not have a trailer and sit in a tent when it’s kind of raining outside with me and improvise the entire script — which is so out of his comfort zone, he was so scared to improvise drama — I want him to be seen and rewarded for it,” Duplass said of his decision to launch a one-man FYC campaign. “I want the world to value that. So maybe there is a little bit of me shaking my fists at the world and hoping that awards consideration can bring more overall viewers to it.”
Duplass said he was hopeful his one-man campaign would bring attention to the larger world of FYC campaigns, which have gotten incredibly expensive over the last decade. Netflix reportedly spent around $25 million to campaign for “Roma” during the 2018-19 Oscar season.
“It would be really cool and interesting to discuss a world where awards campaigns look like this because there’s a cap on the money you can spend on them,” Duplass said. “Where you don’t need to spend $10 million or $15 million to cut through. Is there a way to level the playing field a little bit more with better rules?”
Duplass is known to be outspoken when it comes to FYC campaigns. The director-producer-writer-actor once wrote an open letter advocating for “Moonlight” to win Best Picture over “La La Land,” and in 2014 he managed to get Magnolia Pictures to mount an awards campaign for “Tangerine” supporting actress Mya Taylor. The actress ended up winning an Independent Spirit Award for her role. For his Romano campaign, Duplass went to the offices of Film Independent in order to stir up a buzz for a Spirit Award. Nominations for the 2019 Indie Spirit Awards will be announced November 21.
Head over to the Los Angeles Times’ website to read more about Duplass’ one-man awards campaign.