Whether on foot or behind the wheel, Linas Phillips knows how to make an impression. The writer, director, and star’s first documentary, “Walking to Werner,” chronicled his 1,200-mile walk to meet Werner Herzog, and now he’s back with the new short-form series, “The Ride,” playing a rideshare driver who not only wants to take his passengers on a five-star trip, but send them on a spiritual journey to boot.
While “The Ride” is a scripted comedy, it too emerged from a true story about Phillips’ daily grind — as executive producer Mark Duplass told IndieWire in the below statement.
“Linas had been Lyft driving since recently moving back to L.A. a couple years ago — and not loving it,” Duplass said. “One day, Jay [Duplass] called him and asked if he wanted to make a show about a very sad guy who was struggling with being a rideshare driver, kinda hoping he’d pull from his real-life frustrations. Linas told him about being so frustrated that he’d kicked out a few passengers, then pitched us on the idea his character being a wanna-be spiritual coach that annoys his passengers by trying to practice on them.”
Inspired by his fascination with spiritual teachers, Phillips’ project has earned him a place in the Indie Episodic lineup at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Per the official synopsis, he plays Wayne, “a 40-year-old rideshare driver and spiritual coach, who recently moved back in with his mom. He discovers that the key to giving his life meaning is to help his unsuspecting passengers let go of their negative thoughts — whether they want his help or not.”
Six episodes will premiere at Sundance, all of which feature Phillips playing more roles than your average multi-hyphenate — and in tighter conditions. The Duplass brothers, through their production house DBP Donut, helped Phillips get the episodes made with a little ingenuity and elbow grease.
“Watching Linas trying to focus on the acting, directing, and editing while driving a car on a tiny crew with our D.P. Nathan [Miller] in the front seat, squished up against the door, just out of frame, so every time they hit a speed bump or turned too quickly he’d get the door handle shoved into his ribs — making shorter form stuff, sometimes you just gotta figure things out,” Duplass said.
For Duplass, it’s all worth it in the end when you’re making projects you’re passionate about.
“The thing I love most about this show is that it is, at its core, a broad comedy premise,” he said. “But the execution is sad, sweet, and super oddball. I hope this is the kind of show people will click on because of the inviting concept and ideally stay for Linas’ unique version of this story.”
“The Ride” premieres Tuesday, January 28 at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Watch the trailer (and check out the poster) below.