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Mumblecore: Film Movements in Cinema

The core of what filmmaking is that it has always been there to entertain people with different audio and visual sources along with some cinematic techniques and professionals. This entertainment has been evolved from different phases and now it is revolutionized to a completely new picture of streaming, television, and film industry.

There was a time when people watch silent and unvoiced, dialogue fewer movies; then comes an era where there were black and white movies. And now we all watch colorful movies with songs and visual effects, even 3D, animated movies and the future VR (virtual reality) projects are also been made nowadays.

The Independents

Apart from films, which are made nowadays on highly based techniques and modern resources, there are some other kinds of films do exist too. These are independent or indie films which do not need any specific studio to produce the movie, they really don’t care or are concerned with tentpoles, or mega budget studio films. They want the control to tell their own story.

Indie films have more of a clear voice from the filmmaker. There’s no interference for studio executives or higher ups, the filmmaker’s vision is what’s up on the screen. These films tend to be more naturalistic, from dialogues to gestures and even seem a bit rawer than your regular and polished studio films.

Indie films are not trying to reach the widest audience they can, they live in the niche.  Because these films are realistic and tell more intimate and personal stories, they don’t hire actors rather they work with real common people to deliver undecided dialogues (improv), so as to give natural performances. These films are mostly shot on locations and not on a studio back lot.

What is Mumblecore?

Enter Mumblecore

So what if you as a filmmaker had no money, didn’t know any professional actors, and only wanted to tell the story you wanted to tell, the film movement would be looking for is  Mumblecore.

The term Mumblecore is used for a special type of film that is different from usual big-budget studio feature films. These films are basically a niche genre of independent films.

The Mumblecore films are shot with fairly raw, natural acting and usually non-scripted dialogues or improv. They’re stories about real life, about personal relationships and non-mainstream topics, most commonly of adult beings in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.

Mumblecore films are extremely low budget as well (usually thousand to if you’re lucky a few million dollars) and are quite different from normal studio movies in many aspects.

Mumblecore films are often shot on a very low budget, with an extremely low budget, but they don’t have the same requirements as a big budget movie.

  • Some of the key points of the Mumblecore genre are:
  • Very low budget (sometimes even free or near-free)
  • Very short shooting time (usually 1–2 days for each shoot)
  • Non-scripted dialogues or improv
  • No professional actors
  • Filmmakers who are not professional filmmakers or those who have no experience
  • Usually non-mainstream topics, such as sex, drugs, alcohol, etc.

Mumblecore is a subgenre of indie film. The definition of Mumblecore varies from person to person. Some people say it’s only about non-scripted dialogues and improvisation, while others include more than just that.

In some ways, Mumblecore is like the new wave of the old indie films, which are usually shot in the US and Europe. It has become the new indie film movement.

History of the Mumblecore Movement

Andrew Bujalski was considered to be the creator of Mumblecore, as he directed the first-ever Mumblecore film titled as Funny Ha Ha in 2002. Later on, a lot of similarly themed movies began to be made which were then presented in film festivals to gain popularity and appreciation, because it was harder to get a wide release in theaters based on the personal types of stories and lack of movie star power.

The 2005 South by Southwest Film Festival screened many Mumblecore movies for the first time and at the very same festival, the term Mumblecore was given to these featured films.

The term Mumblecore was coined by Eric Masunaga and it stuck. SXSW release put a spotlight on these kinds of films and made stars out of the filmmakers who made them. The Mumblecore movement owes a lot to South by Southwest Film Festival.

Although these kinds of movies were raw, had a low budget and no movie stars they still had an immense impact on the indie film scene. Here is a list of a few major standouts.


Mumblecore Filmmakers

Andrew Bujalski:

Andrew Bujalski, founder of Mumblecore was famous for his influential signature series and unique filmmaking style. His movies had a magical element of passive-aggressive conversations in which the dialogue deliverer will not hurt the companion in any case and at the same time make his point in the scene.

The popular Funny Ha Ha and Mutual Appreciation of 2005 were funny though but they lack a clear communication process and maybe they fail to link with reality. On the contrary to it, Beeswax was a kind of reality-based illuminating movie of his in 2009. His recent Computer Chess is a revolutionized movie and has improvised dialogues along with an intriguing storyline.

Bujalski’s films roamed around money and wealth, as shown in his film Results; which is about managing small business gracefully. However, the character of Trevor is mostly about physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual fitness.

Bujalski is a clever director and observer of human nature, when he noticed the love triangle between Danny, Kat, and Trevor he created moments which brought you into the drama. With his twisted flavors and fine directing skills, there created a classic comic movie with a graceful touch of romance that eventually became his unique style.

 Joe Swanberg:

Joe Swanberg‘s comfort level was different and his movies revolved around sexual confusion, relationship conflicts, and dissatisfaction along with technological matters. His first movie Kissing On The Mouth was on the same topic, however, later on, his creation Alexander The Last of 2009 shocked everyone and proved to be a different kind of Mumblecore film. Other films include Uncle Kent, Digging for Fire, and Drinking Buddies. He also just created a show on Netflix called Easy.

Mark and Jay Duplass:

Mark Duplass is considered to be the wizard of Mumblecore films. His ideas, creations, and executing capabilities have always taken him to the highest. He and his brother Jay Duplass can come up with many elementary movies that are considered to be true Mumblecore writings.

His first feature film, The Puffy Chair in 2005 was a professional glory on the most popular Funny Ha Ha, and he took the core conversational awkwardness to his movie in a new way. After that his success era has started, he with his sibling directed Baghead which was a blooming piece of art of that time, flourishing the indie industry with low budget but extreme entertaining storytelling.

Later on many outclass creations were made by these duo siblings that surprised everyone with amazement. Other films include; CyrusJeff, Who Lives At Home, The Do-Deca-Pentathlon, Zero Dark Thirty and The League.

They even had the Mumblecore style series on HBO Togetherness and just signed a four-picture deal with Netflix.

Lynn Shelton

Lynn Shelton had always wanted to become a film director but was worried that being a woman in her mid-30s would be a huge hurdle to get over. When she saw the award-winning French director Claire Denis give a talk at Seattle’s Northwest Film Forum in 2003, Denis said she was 40 years old when she went down the path and directed her first feature film. That one statement changed Lynn Shelton’s world and started her down the path of an indie filmmaker.

In 2004, Lynn Shelton began working on her first feature film, We Go Way Back, which she wrote and directed. Described as “impressionistic” and “polished”, the film tells the story of a 23-year-old actress, Kate, confronted by a 13-year-old version of herself. We Go Way Back premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival in 2006 and is getting a release very soon.

Shelton’s film Humpday, (starring Mumblecore filmmaker Mark Duplass) was premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, was purchased by Magnolia Pictures, and has been shown at SIFFSXSW and the Cannes Film Festival as well at other film festivals.

Kentucker Audley:

Kentucker Audley produced many impactful movies like Team Picture, Holy Land and David Holzman’s Diary with pure Mumblecore elements in them. He also runs a unique website to feature low budget movies named NoBudge.com. Also, he is planning to launch a new platform to further enhance and NURTURE the indie film industry.

Frank V. Ross:

This director has many Mumblecore focused movies like Audrey The Trainwreck which had improvised dialogue and based on true low budget and Mumblecore principles. His recent Tiger Tail In Blue had opening title come up 55 minutes into the movie, which signature elements of Ross’s production and sometimes a mess with the expectations of the audience.

Aaron Katz:

Katz has delivered a remarkable collection of films which have comedy element along with couple conflicts and annoyances. His overly scripted and detective stories have always been joyous to the audience. His films include; Quiet City, Cold Weather, and Dance Party, USA.

Greta Gerwig:

Greta Gerwig has, in some ways, become the face Mumblecore movement. She had an opportunity to work with great directors of the time and created some marvelous movies like Nights and Weekends and To Rome With Love. But later she jumped behind the camera to create her own entry into the Mumblecore movement,  which showed great variation and discipline, as in the fantastic Frances Ha.It can be said that indie filmmaking is changed, and it will continue to evolve according to the times, technology, and stories filmmakers want to tell. Many amazing filmmakers wrote the history of Mumblecore, though they had to face some downfalls and rejections they never stopped hustling and putting their untiring and pure-hearted efforts to glorify this industry even more.

From the first-ever Mumblecore film Funny Ha Ha in 2002 to the more recent and modest one, Midnight Delight in 2016, there has always been a joyous and remarkable effort to fascinate the audience along with a magical message.

The independent film industry is not receiving much love or financing from the big studios but in an ever-changing media landscape, new players on the scene seem to be changing that. Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu have embraced Mumblecore filmmakers and contracted them to create fresh, original content with full creative freedom. The times they are a-changing and I think for the better.


Hyperrealism, Mumblecore, & “Togetherness” – VICE Meets the Duplass Brothers

Filmmakers Jay and Mark Duplass have made a big name for themselves with the endearing hyper-realism of their mumblecore films. The brothers have now delved into the world of TV with their series Togetherness, which follows the tribulations of thirtysomethings trying to make sense of their adult lives.

Togetherness stars Amanda Peet, Melanie Lynskey, and Steve Zissis. The series premiered on HBO this January and has already been renewed for a second season. We sat down with the Duplass brothers to talk about the series and its parallels with their lives.

For another great resource on Mumblecore check out mumblecore.info

How to Make a $1,000 Feature Film with Mark Duplass

Make a feature film for $1000? Sounds crazy right? Well if you don’t know Mark Duplass you should get to know him. Mark and his brother Jay Duplass are most widely known for making the indie film hits The Puffy Chair and Safety Not Guaranteed. Mark Duplass has gone on to be a very successful writer, producer, and director.

Mark Duplass is an extremely talented film director, producer, musician, actor, and screenwriter. He along with his brother, Lawrence Jay Duplass, have created film industry waves in a very short time period. Be it filmmaking or successful TV series, everyone loves the work of Duplass Brothers.

Being Filmtrepreneurs they have initiated their own production company Duplass Brothers Productions and have been into the directing business since then. Widely known for their films The Puffy Chair (2005), Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2011), and also The Do-Deca-Pentathlon (2012).

Jay and Mark Duplass have also co-created the renowned HBO TV series Togetherness.

Both of these talented brothers grew up in a suburb of New Orleans. They fell in love with film at a young age and they started making videos on their father’s Panasonic when the brothers were 6 and 9 respectively.

They would shoot versions of The Lone Ranger as well as The Sermon on the Mount. According to the Duplass brothers, when they look back over this period and the activities which extended to their teenage, they seem to recall an inner self of experimentation.

Things got focused and serious once Jay made this self-realization that he did not want to go on with his filed after spending four years as psychology majors which he was studying at the University of Texas, Austin. Mark Duplass was a singer-songwriter which he had to eventually give up because of increased condition of tendinitis.

Jay remained an extra year in the school so that he could study film and also got his brother Mark Duplass enrolled there so that he could act in his projects. Which was usually extremely cute bits of valuable silliness pretty much inspired by their obsession with the Coen Brothers. Mark has himself admitted that we were trying to be them but it was not going well.

After some time, Jay got his hands on a profitable and worthwhile commission to film a documentary about gardening which was some sponsored material on the behalf of an Austin startup, gardening.com.

The company crumpled before the film was finished even but luckily for the Duplass brothers, not before paying for their efforts. With that money, they bought a Canon GL1, got themselves a camera operator, and a photography editor so that they could begin on their second scripted feature film which was a rip-off of Rocky but in running shoes called Vince Del Rio.

And before they had even finished its edited, the duo decided that I was simply unreleasable which Mark Duplass has often referred to a steaming pile of dog diarrhea.

The Duplasses had no money, no ideas, and a terrible period of lack of faith in their filmmaking skills. So in desperation, Mark thought of making a movie which was part of their childhood. Fast and affordable and off-the-cuff. Mark Duplass went out to buy a $3 MiniDV tape which is the entire production cost of the movie and also improvised the total of what was to become the This is John of 2003.

It was a seven-minute short that started as an exercise, which results in triggering a psychological collapse because John rejects his numerous attempts as being too conscious or too formal. This was the course that so well summarized the creative journey of Duplasses’.

Though This is John might have sounded and looked like a home movie, it had a hint of life to it and that is why it was accepted into the shorts program when the Duplasses’ submitted to the Sundance and guess what? It was addressed as one of the five short films to see.

Right after two years, these brothers returned to the Sundance with The Puffy Chair which was an endeavor which they drew from their own lives. Starring Mark Duplass and his girlfriend (now wife) Katie Aselton this film concerns the relationships between men, women, fathers, mothers, and friends. Mark finds a replica of a lounge chair on eBay which his father used ages ago. The road trip that was taken to deliver that chair to him in Atlanta took very interesting twists and turns.

To some of the viewers, the movie touched something deep and affected them with its spooky familiarity. Making something so amazing with so little money sent a huge shockwave through the film industry which made it possible to think that anyone could step up to make a movie.

Although the traditional distributors kept their distance from the not-too-fine cheating after the film had spent a year’s time on the festival circuit, Netflix’s budding film distribution arm, Red Envelope Entertainment made its first acquisition. It is said by Sarandos of Netflix who was running Red Envelope, that he was drawn to the film for the wonderful home-viewing potential it possessed.

The follow-up feature of Duplass brothers in 2008 Baghead, was a mellow horror whose story revolved around a quartet of struggling filmmakers who head back to the woods for the weekend as a last try to pen down a feature film which would give them a head start to their careers. And they found the plot of pretty clichéd stories which gave the actors a set of guidelines to explore human interaction.

The Mumblecore Movement

A new movement called Mumblecore had the Duplass brothers working with directors like Joe Swanberg and Andrew Bujaski. But still, the boys had potential and momentum which soon gave them the chance to take up the traditional first step thing that all directors do to boost up their career i.e. making their first-ever studio film.

Willing to work for less, they cast all of the Puffy Chair fans in the production of Fox Searchlight Cyrus. With a $7 million budget and storyline of a creepy mother-son relationship, it was certainly an out of the box thing. The Duplass spent three years working on Cyrus. The movie revolved around a depressed man in his 40s, which was problem for Fox Searchlight who were suspicious of estranging the viewership. They wanted to portray him as down but not too much of it.

The film grossed $7.4 million which happens to be the most successful Duplass venture to date.

It soon became quite apparent that the movies these brothers were interested in making were aimed at a smaller audience with limited box-office appeal. But yet, if they underperformed in theaters a large audience was enjoying the work of Duplass brothers on the small screen and their movies surely were having a profitable afterlife.

Since The Puffy Chair came out, the Duplass brothers had been toying with the idea of HBO and now seemed the perfect time to actually take the chance. Jay came up with the idea of series which would star Steve Zissis who has Mark’s senior in high school and had had a stall in his acting career after Baghead and Do-Deca-Pentathlon.

So that is how the idea of Alexander the Great took birth which happened to be a pilot about an actor who was struggling with his career with mental health issues. HBO loved it and asked to add more characters making it a relationship show and that is what they did.

Before the premiere of A Teacher at Sundance, Fidell had sent the Duplass brothers her feature making them her fan. That is why she was their first choice when Mark Duplass got an idea for a movie of a young reboot of Days of Wine and Roses which has physical abuse instead of alcohol. Graciously accepted by Fidell, by the end of the day, she was officially signed up both for the writing and direction of what was to formulate into Six Years. And in March at SXSW it was bought by Netflix.

The most astonishing development in an already amazing career apart from the movies and TV shows that this dynamic duo made, the Duplasses have grown into a royalty which helps like-minded filmmakers gain benefit from the business model which they seem to have created.

The Duplass brothers helped a friend in giving life to his film and this revelation that they could actually save the struggling career of a filmmaker with some time and money blew their minds away and always grateful for the emotional as well as financial support by their parents they saw this way to put it back in the world.

Producing multiple films per year, which

  1. Strictly follow the line of low costs.
  2. Protecting the vision of the filmmaker.
  3. Eventually giving the final product to the audiences as fast as possible.

The Duplass Brothers have signed a four-picture deal with Netflix. And they are taking a similar approach to TV. The first film from that deal is Blue Jay starring Mark Duplass and Sarah Paulson and directed by Alexandre Lehmann (check out his interview here). Meeting by chance when they return to their tiny California hometown, two former high-school sweethearts reflect on their shared past. Check out the trailer below:

They helped few filmmakers in making 10 episodes of the show of an animated series Animals and much to their surprise, not only HBO bought them but signed them for the second season right away. And four months later, the Duplass brothers got a two-year deal.

These brothers have the magic beans to turn any idea, no matter how trivial it may be, into a profitable TV show or movie.

Can you really make a feature film for $1000 bucks?

Mark Duplass had a packed house for his amazing SXSW Keynote Speech. He was spitting out Indie Film GOLD though out his talk.

If you didn’t get a chance to hear his talk, here are some topics he covered:

  • Learn your craft  by making short films every weekend for $3
  • Write a Feature Film for less than $1,000
  • Have a strong day job (whatever you can get) while working towards your goal
  • Put money away to travel to Film Festivals and future films

Coming from the “Mumblecore” indie film movement, a style of low-budget film typically characterized by the use of nonprofessional actors and naturalistic or improvised performances, he had some great advice for independent filmmakers:

“You should design the aesthetic of the movie so that it doesn’t feel like less than a $200,000 movie but it feels squarely like a $1,000 movie.”

I’ve seen so many filmmakers attempt to make The Avengers on the budget for craft services for one day on a Marvel set. You are setting yourself up to fail. When starting out work within your limitations. It worked for Robert Rodriguez on his indie film classic El Mariachi.

Mark Duplass stated that $1000 is in NO WAY a budget a feature film should be made for. Here is what Duplass says:

“It’s not an empirical number, it depends of the city you live in and the scope of your story. But when I think about that movie, it’s doing a couple of things.

Borrowing recycled hard drive from people. Getting the Ultrakam uncompressed app on your iPhone. Most of it is food and you really want someone who can cook.

I recommend having your editor be the ‘DIT’ person who takes the Media in – and they have a lot of downtime, so you have them help you light, and you have them cook.

And you should be having a crew that’s really, really small. So that money should be mostly spent on food and then you are going to spend that on festival applications.”

Mark Duplass dishes out some amazing advice to independent filmmakers in this keynote speech and awesome Q&A. To see the entire SXSW Keynote check out the video below, DO IT!

“Instinct is very, very important, and we believe in it through every part of the process… When it’s time to create and get that stuff down, we believe in the gut.” – Mark Duplass

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Mark & Jay Duplass’ $3 Sundance Short Film: This is John

Why is it that it can be the simplest things in life that eliminate your self-worth. That seven-minute short film, “This is John,” shows a man coming home and struggling to record the perfect voicemail message.

If you haven’t seen their $3 short film, This is John, that got into Sundance and launched their careers take a look:

SHORTCODE - SHORTS

Want to watch more short films by legendary filmmakers?

Our collection has short films by Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, the Coen Brothers, Chris Nolan, Tim Burton, Steven Spielberg & more.

IFH 316: The Duplass Brothers, $50K, 18 Day Shoot, & One Film

Right-click here to download the MP3

Today on the show we have directors Megan Petersen & Hannah Black. They are the winners of the Seed and Spark/Duplass Brother Hometown Heros Contest. Here more about this remarkable contest.

Join us for an opportunity to have your feature film executive produced by Duplass Brothers Productions, Salem Street Entertainment, and UnLTD Productions and be eligible for a total of $50,000 in no-interest loans for your narrative or documentary feature. Whether you’re from a small town, the suburbs or a special corner of a major city, now is the time to bring your hometown-centered story to the screen.

Their film is called DROUGHT.

Join Sam, her Autistic brother Carl, estranged sister Lillian & friend Lewis, as they try to navigate life in a small town. It’s 1993 and the south is in the worst drought in history but Carl is fascinated by weather. Hoping for a better life, they steal an ice-cream truck to become storm chasers.

 

We sit down and discuss all things indie film, what it was like to direct this film while having the guidance of indie film legends like Jay and Mark Duplass.

Enjoy my inspirational conversation with Megan Petersen & Hannah Black.

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IFH 241: An Evening with the Duplass Brothers | From a $3 Short Film to Netflix & HBO

Right-click here to download the MP3

I had the pleasure the other night to see two of my inspirations speak on stage. Mark and Jay Duplass or as they are known The Duplass Brothers, were at a book signing for their new book, Like Brothers, and gave an awesome talk about how they got started, playing the Hollywood game and making up your own rules.

Many of you know that the Duplass Brothers are the reason why I got off my ass and made my first feature film This is Meg. Their “just go out and do it” attitude inspired me to go and do it. This further inspired me to make my latest film On the Corner of Ego and Desire. If you haven’t seen their $3 short filmThis is John, that got into Sundance and launched their careers take a look:

Here’s a bit on their new book Like Brothers:

How do you work with someone you love without killing each other? Whether producing, writing, directing, or acting, the Duplass Brothers have made their mark in the world of independent film and television on the strength of their quirky and empathetic approach to storytelling. Now, for the first time, Mark and Jay take readers on a tour of their lifelong personal and professional partnership in [easyazon_link identifier=”1101967714″ locale=”US” tag=”whatisbroke-20″]LIKE BROTHERS[/easyazon_link], a unique memoir told in essays that share the secrets of their success, the joys and frustrations of intimate collaboration, and the lessons they’ve learned the hard way.

Part coming-of-age memoir, part underdog story, and part insider account of succeeding in Hollywood on their own terms, LIKE BROTHERS, is also a surprisingly practical roadmap to a rewarding creative partnership. From a childhood spent wielding an oversized home video camera in the suburbs of New Orleans to their shared years at the University of Texas in early ‘90s Austin, and from the breakthrough short they made on a $3 budget to the night their feature film Baghead became the center of a Sundance bidding war, Mark and Jay tell the story of a bond that’s resilient, affectionate, mutually empowering, and only mildly dysfunctional. They are brutally honest about how their closeness sabotaged their youthful romantic relationships, about the jealousy each felt when the other stole the spotlight as an actor (Mark in The League, Jay in Transparent), and about the challenges they faced on the set of their beloved HBO series, Togetherness—namely, too much togetherness.

From their obsession with people-watching at airports to their always-evolving “top 10 films of all-time” list to their personal email conversations to their defense of Air Supply, LIKE BROTHERS is as openhearted and lovably offbeat as Mark and Jay themselves.

I highly recommend any and all filmmakers and screenwriters read this book. [easyazon_link identifier=”1101967714″ locale=”US” tag=”whatisbroke-20″]Click here to take a read[/easyazon_link].


If you haven’t had a chance to listen to Mark Duplass give this game-changing keynote at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival you are in for a treat. Sit back and take a listen.

Enjoy an evening with the Duplass Brothers.

Alex Ferrari 0:35
Today's episode is extremely special guys, because I was privileged to sit and listen to two of honestly my idols people that filmmakers that really got me off my ass to go make my first film this is Meg, and continue to inspire me on my second feature on the corner of ego and desire. And those guys are the duplass brothers. They were the first time that I heard what they did with puffy chair, their first feature film, where they just went out and did it and didn't really wait around for permission and just kind of went and did it and didn't really care about how it looked or whatever. They cared more about story and performance. And and it really just inspired me. So I had an opportunity to see them. Give us a lecture at one of their book signings for their new amazing book, like brothers, I've read the book, and it tells the entire story of how they made it into Hollywood, how they change the rules of how they are making films. And it's really inspirational. And also a whole other sections of the book are all about working with brothers, working with siblings and how to get along and how to collaborate, and and that whole world as well. So it's a wonderful read. And I wanted to hear what these guys had to say. And I was able to record most of their Talk, I'm going to I'm going to give you a little lead into where the recording is going to pick up. They're talking about their very first short film, which is called This is john and he did it back in 2003. And basically, the way it was is they were both sitting in their little apartment in Austin, Texas. And Mark turned to Jay and said, Today we're making a movie and Jay was like, What are you talking about? We don't have a 16 millimeter camera. We don't have crew, we don't have lights, we don't have actors. He goes, I don't care. We're gonna go make a movie. Let's grab mom and dad's video camera home video camera, I'm gonna go to the store and get a tape for $3. And you've got 15 minutes to come up with a story. And he bolted. So since he didn't have a lot of time to figure out a story, he came up with the idea of basically what happened to him earlier in the week where he was trying to set his outgoing message on his answering machine, and literally having a nervous breakdown about it. And that is where we pick up the story where the boys are talking. So really enjoy the rest of this episode, guys. These guys are super inspirational. And I'm gonna have a bunch of cool stuff. At the end of the episode, you can see the $3 short film, and a ton of more resources and more talks that mark and Jay do in the show notes and all that kind of stuff. And I'll talk a little bit more about that later. But until then, enjoy Mark and Jay Duplass

Jay Duplass 4:47
And I was trying over and over again. I couldn't get it right. And I pretty much had a nervous breakdown. And when Mars another miles a mile away. You might want to cue Get up now because this is what we're going to show. So I told mark the idea, and he said, cool. And he got dressed in my Kelly. I was doing like temp work and it was called the Kelly people and you in, you know, I had one button of shirt and some slacks, that's all I owned, other than like, you know, just sweat pants at that point. And he put the shirt on and he looked at the tag and we saw that on the tag and said john Ashford and we were like, okay, that's your name. And he and he walked outside and he said, Roll camera. I'm coming in. This is the movie

Mark Duplass 5:53
So what ended up happening is that we shot 120 minute take. Our friend David Zellner who's running another brother filmmaking team helped us edit that down to about seven minutes. And we didn't feel like, you know, it was gonna be the greatest show in the world. But we definitely felt like we had broken through and told something that was very specifically, let's watch it again, very specific to us very unique to our sensibility. You know, we weren't trying to be the Coen Brothers, we were just making fun of ourselves and the way we do things. And so we're like, what, what are we doing this, we don't know. And then we submitted it to like a couple of film festivals on a large one of which was Sundance, and we got into Sundance that year. And it was the worst looking movie that had ever played the Sundance Film Festival. And it was a dead pixel right in the center of the frame. But it was also the worst sounding movie, which we had that going for us. But it really connected with people, there was something in it and, and I think we have tried to stay as close to this process as we can, which is basically, you know, artists are young filmmakers always asking us, like, you know, how do I get started, and besides failing for 12 years, which we try to tell them to avoid is kind of that thing where like, there's little conversations you're having with your loved one or your best friend or someone that's going to in the morning, and you're like, giggling uncontrollably about something you're confessing to them, when you get like, you know, you get shivers in the shower, remembering something horrible and embarrassing that you did. Like, if you can identify that and share it and communicate it like that tends to be like kind of what were the stuff and so we've basically been trying to do that since.

Interviewer 7:47
And, Jay, do you think you recognize that at the moment, then that you had maybe finally sort of broken through and like, discovered what your guys's voice could be?

Jay Duplass 7:58
No, I was, I was just depressed and obliterated, no, but you have we did have a moment where like something interesting? Yes, I would I did know at the time. I mean, I was just blanketed by decades of failure, you know, I mean, what I did know is that we had captured something that we had never captured before, like something happened in front of me. And it was very private and personal to me and Mark, this is nothing that I would have told anybody else in the world. It's so fucking embarrassing, you know. So I knew that that had happened. I knew that it was real because Mark was with only a few years younger than me, he was hot on my tails of having that nervous breakdown, it was easy for him to tap into it is the first time we'd ever captured a performance like that. And we just knew also that we after one take we we walked away from it, we were like, Okay, we got that, whatever that was, we got that. But it was so different for anything that we had ever conceived or thought we would do. You know, and then when it played at Sundance, and you guys, the crowd had this reaction. And also another reaction, which you didn't have because we're alive right now. But half the Sundance crowd was also like, scared, he was gonna kill himself. Like that was seriously like, the questions we were getting is like, that was the most hilarious film we've seen at Sundance, but also we were afraid he's going to shoot himself in the head. So it's like this weird thing. And it was really not anything smart about us. It was just we saw people laugh at us hard. And we were like, I guess that's what they want from us. Just keep doing that.

Interviewer 9:46
But then how did you sort of push that forward and sort of, in some ways, recapture and expand that?

Jay Duplass 9:53
Very carefully. Yeah, we really try to stay close to it. Our next film was another short This time it had two actors in it. Really branching out is still happening, a kitchen is still shot. And then we went to Sundance with that. And then we thought, okay, it might be time for us to consider making a feature film. But like last feature film we made was terrible. And we were so scared, we had that sort of like PTSD. So we were like, We know how to make a seven minute scene work. Let's make a movie that's like, let's do the math. 12, seven minutes scenes, that would be an 84 minute movie, we feel like we can pull that off. And then we again went right into Jays, available materials School of thinking where I was like, I was a musician, and I had a van. My wife, Katie lived in this very small town in Maine where we could shoot a lot of stuff, and people would be friendly to us. And we, you know, we're like, oh, this is furniture store going out of business, we can get two matching recliners for $500. However, we have like one of them on fire, that'd be fucking awesome. That'll be like the big effect of the movie. And so we cobbled together the puffy chair out of out of that, and, and what was funny about that is we really thought, like most people did like that would be a stepping stone to getting us into Hollywood or into traditional filmmaking where we could make money. And so when we had the puffy chair at Sundance, and we sold that we got agents, and we, and we moved to LA. And it was this whole rigmarole of like, well, now you're like, now you've done your Sundance movies, and you could be a feature filmmaker at the studio system. And that was wildly different than we expected to me.

Interviewer 11:40
And I mean, one of the things in the book that I appreciated so much, it's just the practicality of a lot of what you guys are talking about. I mean, we went through lines in the book is just how to pay your rent. And was it important for you guys to sort of keep that sort of like nuts and bolts practical stuff in the book? And do you think being for finger aware of that stuff? is one of the foundational ways that you've had the success that you've had is maybe didn't overextend you, you know, you you kept it to like, Oh, I have a van. So let's use of him.

Jay Duplass 12:13
Yeah, I mean, I think that that process is endemic to our success, that minimalist, sort of, I mean, it really boiled everything down to what we think is important in storytelling, which is, you know, story and acting. in filmmaking, it's, you know, it's great if you have a gorgeous film, but like, you can have a gorgeous film of the story and acting sucks. No one cares. But if you have a film that has good story, and acting and looks like absolute shit, people will still love the movie, maybe like some, you know, nerve beings are not gonna like it, but like, you know, if they feel it, and we felt that and we, honestly, that process of, I mean, when we made these movies, $3 The second one was, like 50 bucks, you know, the puffy chair was $10,000, to produce, and it was truly, what is the cheapest amount of money that we can make this movie for, you know, like, don't use movie magic budgeting software, start with a piece of loose leaf and write the 14 things down that you have to buy, so that the movie can happen. And then people who don't want to be part of a rinky dink movie like that, you want to eliminate them from your set, it like weirdly boiled everything down to like, you know, Mark was talking about the puffy chair and he's available materials. And Katie was with Mark and she had to do it. And like I had this friend read who played the brother, and it was the criteria was like reds really interesting. And he'll do anything. That was like a criteria for him make the movie he'll do anything we say because he's got nothing going on. You know, like, at the time, he was like, Hey, man, you want to come to my apartment. It's here in orange, we have this beautiful morning. I was like, how busy he was. And we have continued that. Now. I mean, like when we make a movie, even if we made a movie in the studio system, Mark and I we will pull the budget back. I mean, when we made Cyrus for searchlight. No one had ever made a movie in the studio system for $7 million. I mean, they were like, yeah, we've never gotten it under 10. And we're like the we can get it under 10 we can make that movie now for $300,000. But, you know, we were trying to be mentored as studio people at that time, but that today that is our philosophy is to make the movie as cheaply as humanly possible. So that, you know, for instance, if you make a movie and you go to Sundance, if you make a movie for $200,000, and it has a couple of famous people in it, it's going to make its money back And if you get really lucky, maybe you sell it for a million dollars, and then makes a ton of a ton of money.

Mark Duplass 15:05
And that was kind of a journey. It's like, we realize when we made like our little movie bag ad and subsequent smaller movies like the one I love, and the overnight and others Creek movies that we're making everything we make them so cheaply, we actually have people calling us like, that's so great, you have this artistic integrity and you don't care about money we're like we gotta do care about money is kind of important, because it helps us continue to make more movies, we fund our own movies. And we make more making those movies by owning them and making them ourselves that if we did getting a paycheck from a studio, and it guarantees is that creative control. So it's become kind of seminal for our model, I think we thought, I mean, Cyrus and Jeff who lives at home, it's hard to make a studio, we, you got to fight a lot to get what you want done. We thought if we keep doing this, we're going to be burned out by the time we're 50. So we kind of took a step back down into the Sundance world, in the independent world. And that's pretty much what we do now is try and make these movies on our own time and, and make them very cheaply. Because you get to kind of stay around, you know, like, if your movie doesn't blow up. It's not a big deal, because it didn't cost that much money. And that's really important to staying vital. And we felt like, the message we're hearing and the independent film world right now is like, nobody will give me any money to make my movie, I've got this $12 million movie I want to make with no stars, it's about incest and rape. I think you should make that movie for $1,000 and then sell it for $10,000. And you'll be a wild success. Nobody should give you $12 million to make that movie, it's not the right time. So we kind of felt like being pragmatic and fiscally responsible, something that we want to put out in the book, because it's a big part of serving our creative.

Interviewer 16:53
Well, it's things that I've always found so interesting about the two of you. And the way they work is that I, I feel like in your trajectory user like just snuck in the door, while the sort of the the idea was you'd make a short film or play a festival, you'd make a feed out of a festival, you would sell it then so you know, someone would get in and work with a distributor or a studio and you guys were following the path that you were supposed to. And you can tell me if you feel like that was working or not. But it seems like you made a decision to like go down this sort of other path and to work in a different way. And like once you kind of got in, and you started working in the conventional way. What changed? Like, why didn't you just like continue down that path?

Jay Duplass 17:39
I mean, we were incredibly steadfast in curating the way that we made things together. I mean, we make things unusually, we work in a sort of like, weird communism. I mean, we are anti on tour. We are we have visions about things. But like, because there's two of us, it's not about the dictated dictatorial vision. It's more like, Hey, we're here, we're trying to capture this feeling. Let's try and get some lightning on a set. Like that thing happened. It doesn't work in the studio world doesn't work like that. But we did a lot of things like for instance, when we work the studio world, we were like, oh, would you say cut 50 people rush on set, we can't have that. And also, we can't have 50 people staring at our actors, because we make these intimate movies and what we feel like we have to offer like genuine performances. So we cleared everybody off the set, and we put them in a garage that had monitors and they didn't like it very much. But when they saw the footage, they were like, okay, we get it, we get what you're doing. So everything sort of worked. Moving into the studio system where the buck stopped, was with the studio heads. And we're talking I mean, like, we're talking about super smart people who had been a part of making very good movies, who were giving us a $7 million movie based on a $10,000 feature. So we were making a huge leap, which we also recommend people don't do. But the main difference is that we we had to have a million conversations about what we were making in our process is a process of discovery. And so they were making us nail down all these things. And when we couldn't nail them down, they assumed that we were weak, and that we didn't have vision

Mark Duplass 19:20
They needed they want to answer that you know, the answer to everything is going to make your movie good before you go in. And here's the deal. There are a lot of people that can go in those rooms with baseball, baseball caps, chewing gum, were very eloquent and can answer those questions very well and confidently, and they're not always the best filmmakers, which is crazy. And we thought like, Well, you know, what's worked for our collaboration through the years validation, listening, admitting that we maybe not know best and when we did that with the studio heads. That was the exact impression we got. It's like, they don't really know what they're doing. And then and it wasn't until something crazy happened. I mean, look, we're we're I'm still friends with all these people and we love them. And we've transcended this. But on like day four or five, we're filming Cyrus. We're coming from the independent world, we're directing Academy Award winning restaurants, oh man Academy Award nominee, john C. Reilly, and like Jonah Hill right up super bad in the middle of movie started up. And so we're trying to earn their trust, we're doing great. And, and Fox Searchlight tells us that they want us to reshoot the first scene we shot, because it's too brown and too down. And we want to add some throw pillows to the apartment. And we were like, this is gonna be tough for us to tell our actors that they need to reshoot the scene, it could blow our trust. And, and it really came to a head. And I kind of lost my temper, I started screaming. And I was just like, doing the thing. He spoke sternly I spoke, I was doing the thing on accident that the baseball had gone to a director's do. And in that moment, they were like, Oh, they have fishing. Oh, look at this, they know their thing. And that killed us. We're just like, is this is what is required to do this. And hindsight, we were being naive. When you have someone else's money and a lot of money, you need to secure it for them and make them feel good. Like it's gonna make their money back. That's why when people hear that, like, you know, there was this whole article going around a couple of weeks ago about how we had like, once turned down a Marvel movie. And they were like, what, that's crazy. But we were like, if we were to do, we had trouble directing a $7 million movie, if we would have to deal with like a $200 billion product, you have to be responsible to them. It's almost not about a piece of art. At that point. It's about servicing a product, you know, so we were a little naive thinking like, hey, they gave us a million dollars, I love our movie, let us go discover it on set, I understand why they needed to know that. So now we'll just tuck ourselves away. And we just say, Hey, I totally get it. Let us just do our thing. We'll make it cheaply. And we'll kind of gouge you where we sell it back to you.

Interviewer 22:02
I've always liked the idea of you guys making a Marvel movie because I always thought it would be like everybody's waiting in the van or something like that wouldn't.

Jay Duplass 22:12
We're pretty sure if we made a Marvel movie, it'd be like, that'd be a really long like eight minute scene before he leaves his house. And he's really confiding in his wife about how fat he looks in his space. He can't possibly go out there

Mark Duplass 22:29
And he's dealing, he's got low testosterone, and he has to take a low t medication. And also one of you motherfuckers is not cleaning the blender in this house. This is gonna come to a head right now. I just think we all really like real estate, you have to spend three years of your life and doing only that. And we'd like to make like 15 things a year and spread ourselves around. And so we also we feel like we wouldn't be happy doing that they wouldn't be happy with us for sure. Because we'd be fussy and talking about discovery. And they'd be like, this $200 million is no discovery, which I would totally understand. They'd also be like, read the fucking comic book, bro. It's already written. So yeah, and then to the larger point of that, and this is part back to where Jnr are right now that's like, our collaboration for so many years, because we had failed. And we found this as john right. And so we were like, what's gonna stay in the two of us, because we gotta protect it, make sure it doesn't get diluted or get bad. But then as we got a little better at our craft, and started to realize, like, we don't want to just tell only the stories that we could tell. We realized we wanted to collaborate with a lot more people. And that's how we started producing people's things, which is like, I mean, honestly, I really started was our friends needed money. And we were the only people who have money, so we would give it to them. But but it led to like, Oh, this is really great. Like, we can produce a movie like tangerine in which we are not authorities to tell that kind of story well, but Shaun Baker kills it, you just needed our guidance and our money in some protection. And so that has allowed us to, you know, make a show like well, well country, which we like, can't make that but we can foster that govern that. But you can't do that when you're directing Marvel, PVC, just you can't spread yourself around like that, that spreading around and collaborating with lots of people has allowed us some of that space we're looking for where we can like, develop relationships with other people and have those kinds of intimacy. So it's been very good for us. Now.

Interviewer 24:32
Cyrus and Jeff live at home. I'm very intrigued to know how the what the two of you just think of those movies and how you feel about them? Well, no, it just in the sense that they see now I pass that you sort of didn't take I don't know for you, they felt like that was some sort of creative cul de sac Do you feel you're going to get stuck making movies like that or like in some ways goes through these should have been your sort of Pinnacle and the springboard to like even bigger movies. And you guys didn't treat them like that. And so how do you how do you feel about whatever that sort of like phantom limb is now?

Jay Duplass 25:07
Well, I mean, I think, you know, when we were coming up with one of the the komen brothers, but we'd let go of that. But we're still holding on to being writer directors holding on to each other, and moving into what we wanted to do. And back then, this was the dream for independent filmmakers is to move through Sundance and comment to Fox Searchlight, and make sideways. You know, that's what everybody was trying to do is make 10 to $20 million great artistic movies with big movie stars. And when we arrived, that model died. I mean, basically, you know, to, to do the math of it. You know, Cyrus was a $7 million movie, they only made $10 million dollars. And a lot of people are very surprised by it because people lose critically acclaimed, it was very funny. It was very moving emotionally. It was everything that a movie like that is supposed to be. And we were like, why didn't we make $10 million. And then when we made Jeff who lives at home, I think Jeff, who lives at home only made $4 million. And that same right after Jeff was at home, we produce safety net guarantee, which was a $750,000 movie that also made $4 million. And it didn't have wildly famous people in it like Jason Segel. Me. And so we, honestly, we were coming into that time. I mean, we're just very adaptable. Yeah, we were just, we just are aware. I mean, I think maybe the one thing that has kept us alive all this time is like, We Are you able to look outside of ourselves. When we made shooting movies in our 20s. We were like, Oh, another shitty movie. And we weren't like, Hey, you have to see my movie. It's so good. Because I made it and you must see it. And we have to get it out in the world. We were like, no, it's a shitty movie, we need to move on. And similarly, when we arrived, in Hollywood, we're like, Man, these movies aren't working anymore. And we were meeting those people. And they were like, yeah, these movies aren't really working anymore.

Mark Duplass 27:13
And we kind of knew that, like, if we were to try to stay there, the budgets would get tighter, the studios would come down a little harder to make sure they can make the money back. It was happened to be the rising of Netflix and the streaming model and realizing we could sell a lot of these movies that we made independently at Sundance. And it was a life flow thing where we're just like, the energy feels so good to be over here. And I think Jane are essentially a little bit more comfortable, but more comfortable kind of under forecasting, and over performing in that way. You know, like, we really like showing up to Sundance and no other like this, when we made this cheap movie, there's no way it's not going to make its money back and do well and like maybe it will blow up. But like, it's certainly not going to be a disappointment in that regard. You know, and I think we felt that if we tried to stay in the Sarris, Jeff realism home realm or bore, it was going to really burn us out because it because we love those movies and, and we got to make the movies, we wanted to make a way to fight so hard to do it. And now we don't have to fight and it's just this is gonna last longer, I think.

Interviewer 28:16
And then, and maybe it seems that with the model you guys are where you are. Just for you as people, and this is something you'd love to book, but you're able to have this really fantastic work life balance, you seem like you're able to be sort of humans in a way that if you were on that grind of making the movies, or even when you were making it together as it was maybe harder for you. And is that something that also been important for you Just the two of you to discover is like the way for the people as well as both?

Mark Duplass 28:50
Yeah, I mean, we've been talking a lot about it lately, like, I'm in this weird phase where like, I'm not really acting and a lot of things, and I'm not actively directing anything, because that requires 12 to 14 hours a day on set, and my kids are 10 and six, and it's fucking board game, homemade pizzas, Austin Powers time in our house, and like, I don't want to miss that shit. And so as a writer, and a producer, I can be kind of more nine to five. And, you know, Jay is really had discovered his love of acting recently. And he's able to go explore that and do that. And, and I think our feeling now is like, well, we have this wonderful company of people who can do a lot for us. We've learned how to delegate authority and how to make things work. And the answer for for me is always like, if there is a 20% chance that I should say this more clearly, like, if I'm thinking about doing something, you know, I look at it and I say, Okay, what happens if I want this if I can pump this to someone and there's a 20% chance that they'll do it better or worse than me, it's going to be a wash. So I'm going to punt it and let them do it. And then I look at the things I'm like uniquely qualified to do. Like the things that we really feel like I'm special at, which for me is like I'm great at the vomit draft, that first draft, that's like a b minus really fast. I'm good at it. And then I give it to my friends and they tell them what to do with it. And I'm really good at like building the architecture of little projects, like each movie or TV show. It's like a little startup. And I can see it and I'm like, Oh, it's Elizabeth moss, it'll be me. There'll be some sci fi elements was shooting 10 dances house, this is nice. And when we get this, I can see the whole thing you know, so I stay in that zone and everything else I pumped.

Alex Ferrari 30:36
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Jay Duplass 30:47
I've had like a reverse midlife crisis, realizing that I'm an I'm like acting, and I'm coming out and guys, I'm coming out of that acting closet.

Mark Duplass 30:58
No one knows how to deal with so weird. Like you're an actor. Now. Everyone's like, all actors are trying to get where you are. So they can have creative control, like, what are you doing? I don't want to hold the whole universe in my arms. I want to I want to just want to be one guy. And like, jump off a cliff. I don't know. It's, it's definitely an unusual path. And I don't know, I feel like I'm clearly very comfortable with a supervisor. I'm kind of the guy in my family. I've always been the guy where words have been used such as histrionic the person with a lot of feelings. And people were like, Can you not have all those feelings are making us uncomfortable? And now I get paid for that. So you could have just do it in your room? Yeah. Yeah, so I've just been enjoying, I don't know, it's weird that I discovered it so late. And I'm kind of excited about, you know, exploring that and trying to do it as much as possible.

Interviewer 32:05
And so we've got some questions from the audience we that we got before the program. So I'm going to read, we're going to go through a few of the audience questions. So the first one, how do you see your roles individually and together in shaping the future of the industry? What sort of impact would you like to leave?

Mark Duplass 32:26
Where we feel the future industry rests squarely on our shoulders as white men from Los Angeles? The world is, it's really up to us guys. I second books gonna be a rule book. Don't follow it. We give you a fucking ticket. That's right. I mean, I think that like Jay and I have a little bit of survivor's guilt of like, we suck, we struggled for a long time, when we see a lot of developing artists and people who really have great ideas and passion, we want to help them and I think so there's a lot of mentoring going on with us right now, whether that's producing younger people's works, or, you know, just kind of in a more traditional sense, and this book is even a part of that. It's just like trying to offer what we have to people and our platform to let them tell their stories and, and lift them up. And and I think that like, you know, if, if we have something unique to offer at this point, and it really is similar to what we saw Richard Linklater, when we were 18, and 14 years old, which is like he was in his late 20s. And he was wearing jeans, and a pocket t shirt that was ripped, he had bad self cut hair, and he wasn't that well spoken. And we looked at him and we're like, with this fucking guy can do it, we could do it. And I think that there's something about our story. And which is true. It's just like, we just waited at the bus stop for forever, we never left the bus stop. We always stayed and you will catch the bus if you wait at the bus stop.

Jay Duplass 33:58
And the concept of keeping things simple and cheap. Because we do we are passionate about the democratization of the filmmaking process. Like right now, if you have an iPhone and a laptop, you can make a gorgeous movie that can change the world that is fully possible. And anyone in this world can do that. And I still I mean, I just had a phone call with a guy who's making his first feature for $700,000. I was like, Don't make 10 features for $70,000. You moron. I hope he's not here. But I mean, we are very passionate about helping people avoid the stumbling blocks that we've had. And helping people really realize that a budget really can start with a piece of loose leaf paper.

Interviewer 34:48
And also, there's a couple questions here having to do with short films in park. Do you think there's an ideal link? Do you like the shortest shortcut possible or is it a little longer and Then also, do you think they should be a sort of self contained artistic expression? Like its own thing? Or do you see them as like? Well, this is the short that I plan to make.

Mark Duplass 35:11
The first part of that question, so when gave us great advice A long time ago, they said, Make shorts, not Long's. And I thought that was really smart. Don't make a schlong. Yeah. So basically, if you're talking about like reverse engineering, your creativity into a model that's going to be sustainable, make comedic shorts under five minutes, because that's the most highly programmable thing from the film festival standpoint. And then in terms of whether it should be a standalone piece of art, or whether like, a microcosm of your feature, my very strong response to that is like, get out of your head immediately on that think about what is a possible string of two to three minutes of footage that might represent your special sauce, and might be entertaining, and just go from there.

Jay Duplass 35:55
But we think shorts are great. I mean, it's like, the one. My first question that I asked people, when they asked me like, Hey, I made some stuff. I'm trying to make a feature, which should I do? My first question is, have you made anything that you can hold in your hand? Or it's not DVD anymore? It's a link or whatever? But do you have a link that you can send to people and say, This is who I am? I'm proud of this. I feel this is an example of my potential. And most people will will not say yes to that question. And I think that is everyone's job is to make something great that you esteem as great and that you are proud of and that you say I'd like to build my filming career on on this.

Mark Duplass 36:42
And to clarify that we do feel like most of the things we receive from people when they try to give us stuff, it is people who have made something that is not great yet, and they're mystified why it's not getting programmed or working. And they're spending all their time trying to market their b minus movie instead of spending all their time on weekends making $3 Films until you make the a movie. And I guarantee you when you make that a movie, you will not be stopped when you make the great movie, you can't be stopped. We've seen that with our own stuff. We've had movies that we have, like really liked. And we've like going out and marketed them and push them about everything. And then not a lot of people see them. And then there are other things that were like, just will drop on Netflix, and they're not promoting it, and then people catch it, then it just blows up because they wanted it. So less time marketing, more time making good stuff.

Interviewer 37:28
And then just as producers, what are you guys looking for, like when people are coming to you with you know, projects? What are the things that you feel you respond with?

Mark Duplass 37:39
It's tough because we everybody always asked us how do you do so many things like Do you guys ever sleep. And the thing is, we run our company in an odd way where we don't accept submissions, we don't read things from people, we don't read scripts that our agents have sent us to produce, the things that we make, almost. I mean, there's a few exceptions. But I think that we made are birthed by us at our company with people that we have either worked with before that we trust. And so we almost make 100% of what we develop. But that's where the efficiency comes from. That was a hard lesson like we moved to Hollywood. And after we had the puffy chair and our agents were like, we're gonna send you all the scripts that you can get to via direct, and we like spending time reading 100 scripts, and then we read them. And then when we're done, we're like, none of these are right for us. And all the time reading the scripts, we could have just gone and made a movie. So we really try to just generate things and it's hard. But when people come to us and say, will you look at my movie, will you help me? Our hearts are like breaking for them. But we're like, basically saying, like, Look, you kind of need to like, get that first thing on your own and get your own, you know, short film down and get that thing programmed and like finding yourself

Interviewer 38:57
Because that's another question we have here. Someone asked, what do you what do you say to a filmmaker who doesn't believe that he or she sort of has it inside of themselves to make the movie that they're trying to get me? We say maybe you're not a filmmaker.

Jay Duplass 39:14
Yeah. I mean, that's not our experience. Usually, it's probably because people are very people who are coming up to us are probably more confident. But most people we find are probably overconfident. I mean, maybe just for our taste, because we think we suck all the time, or I mean, it's like, every time we make a movie, we're just like, Oh, God, please don't let it suck. Please, please. I mean, it's not like we've arrived anywhere. We're terrified. It's very, very, very hard to make a really great movie. And so that's why we beat the shit out of ourselves. And, you know, have everyone consult with us and when we go nuts before we like put a movie into the world. I mean, if you don't have confidence, I would just say reduce everything. Make a tiny movie, with your friend and make them do what you want to see them do.

Mark Duplass 40:03
And, you know, to clarify that point. It's like Jay and I often get on like a soapbox and preach, like, go out there and make your move in power. But like, we want to be clear sometimes that a lot of people like, they kind of feel like they want to do it and they feel like it might be easy and they're not sure. So we do try to be clear, just be like, Look, this may not be the thing for you. It may not be your form, it may not be that and that is okay. You know, we Yeah,writing and directing. Is it fun?

Jay Duplass 40:31
Writing if you think writing and directing is fun. You're probably making some shitty movies. I'm not kidding. I mean, that's why I'm doing a lot of acting right now is it is hard. A Martin has the best metaphor I've heard for it. I feel like if writing and directing is like being the mother of a difficult child and raising it to fruition. Being an actor as the drunk uncle who shows up at Christmas Oreos and wins the day. I mean, if not, and then goes home and doesn't have to take care of anybody that's on there watches Netflix. Yeah, it's a really, really, I mean, directing in particular, is is the hardest thing I can imagine. I mean, it's really, really hard thing to do. And I'm always like, skeptical when I'm on a set. And as a director was having a great time. I was like, you're not paying attention. Things happen right now. And you're not watching. I mean, Mark and I, I mean, marks is a little better than me. But like we're pretty antisocial onset. People like hey, can we come to set and we're like, Fuck, no. I mean, like, seriously, when we made Cyrus Ridley Scott produce it. He wanted to come to set and we told him no. He couldn't handle it. We were just like, we have our hands full. Last thing we need is like Ridley Scott watching us direct. JOHN C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, where is it to me and Katherine. And then another person here honestly, is it ever too late?

Mark Duplass 42:03
I don't think so at all. I mean, you know, I think for us, and Jay hit this a little bit, but like, the most exciting thing about the filmmaking world right now is like, someone who is 13 years old or 85 years old, can literally just pick up their iPad and make a movie. And I truly believe that that movie can win the Oscar because the technology is there. And people are ready to accept anything, the star system is broken down. It's like, just because Matthew McConaughey is in a movie, people don't come see it anymore. So they're looking for great, unique, original stories. And I really think it can break through, you know, I think it's a little bit of a tough time, because because there are so many movies out there. Now because of that it's a little harder to cut through like, Jay and I honestly, we're in a really good place in 2005 to have the puffy chair because it was a little less competitive than I think, I think if we submit the puffy chair to Sundance in 2019, that doesn't get it. You know, it sounds a little tougher, but it is exciting that I think honestly, anybody can come through.

Jay Duplass 43:09
Yeah, I don't think people I mean, I feel like I don't hear this being talked about enough that like Barry Jenkins was a quote unquote mobile core filmmaker alongside me mark were on festival tours with him. His previous movie to moonlight was medicine for me like it's a it's a really good movie. It's it's a nice, solid mumblecore movie. For an African American who has not made a crusher great movie, to make basically $1,000,001.2 million movie about gay black men in America, and to win the Oscar is insane. It's unheard of. It's like, considering where he came from in the context of all that, and that a $1.2 million movie can look that good. All of that, to me is, is super exciting. I mean, I know, there's a lot of things to be scared about in terms of like, what's happening to film. But the process has been democratized in a great way. We have a long way to go, for sure. But it's happening.

Interviewer 44:26
And then I'm gonna save the last question for for myself, and it kinda has to do with the book. And just how you guys think of it. Do you see this as some kind of farewell? Like it's in some ways is the book a way for you guys to kind of say goodbye to the duplass brothers and to let everybody kind of meet mark and Joe,

Mark Duplass 44:44
I think there's a little bit of like, Come meet the individuation of Mark and Jay, but it's definitely not a goodbye to the two of us. I think that like the if I had to kind of be reductive about it, I would just say We're in an open marriage right now really, still love each other. We're gonna sleep with some other people. We can discuss real world good. And then but we will, the sex is always best with the two of us really will always come running back back home to that. And I think that, you know, the reason we wanted to share it in this book is that we felt like for a long time, everybody's asking us, how do you work with your sibling without killing each other. And we've been trying to do that, in our long interviews like this for years. And we felt like, we had to write a 20 page book to even scratch the surface of it. But I think that a lot of people think that it's a lot easier than it is for us. And we wanted to kind of open that up to people and let them know that like, it's really hard, but it's so worth.

Jay Duplass 45:52
Yeah, I mean, it's it's definitely I wouldn't say it's like partially goodbye to that lockstep, we're going to do everything together, we're going to write the wreck everything together. I mean, that that is changing. But you know, as a company is supporting each other in terms of doing the things that we want to do and helping each other do it. That's great. But I mean, to be honest, for me, it feels like I get my brother back and more of a hello to Jay and mark. You guys just don't get to be there. We're going on hikes. And we're hanging out now like we haven't before,

Mark Duplass 46:31
See Jay is hiking, you guys. Dude, it's so much it's a whole nother panel, we'll get into where our best will go.

Interviewer 46:42
Thank you so much for being here. And everybody it's Jay and Mark.

Alex Ferrari 46:52
I tell you, we all need inspiration. And the duplass brothers are that, especially for me about just guys who are just persistent. And just, you know, they had 10 years 12 years of failure before they finally got something to get off the ground. And that persistence, of going after it and making it and figuring things out for themselves and not falling into what everybody else wanted them to do. But for them to find their own voice their own way of doing things. And I respect that tremendously. And and they are under still an oddity in the Hollywood world. And then the Hollywood system, they still walk to the beat of their own drum and, and are successful doing it and working with Netflix and working with HBO, and working with you know, huge companies and doing what they want to do. So again, and I've preached this so so so many times on this show, don't go and make a seventh out, don't don't make a $700,000 first feature, go make 10 $70,000 features. And I would even go farther than that. And you can actually go and make 20 features with that kind of money, or 10 or 15 features with that kind of money, and learn along the way where you can actually set yourself up for success, especially in today's world and what you're trying what the business is looking like today and what the marketplace is looking for today. So again, and if you and I want to really stress if you have not read their book like brothers, it is a wonderful read. I put it up there with Rebel Without a crew director Robert Rodriguez is mythical book en el mariachi in the making of El Mariachi, it is definitely up there. And in many ways I feel that is a little bit more realistic of what these guys did. They took everyday gear and made their movie and made to short film, then made a feature and then went to the Hollywood system figured it out after two movies at the way Hollywood wanted them to be. They did just weren't comfortable with so they pulled back, went back into the indie world and then started doing things the way they wanted to do it and, and told Hollywood Hey, if you're going to work with us, this is how we work and have complete creative control along the way and make money and help their friends. It is honestly the it's a win win. It's a dream style way of making films and definitely check out their book I'm gonna put links to the book in the in the show notes at indie film hustle.com for slash two for one. And also on the show notes. I'm gonna put a link to Mark duplessis legendary now keynote at the 2015 South by Southwest Film Festival, where he basically says the Calvary is not coming and it is a must see for every filmmaker out there has to watch this amazing hour long keynote that Mark duplass put On at the festival, it is mind blowing. It really, really is. So a lot of filmmakers asked me, What should I do first go make a $3 short film. Go do it right now, while you're listening to this, start figuring out what you're going to go shoot this weekend and go shoot a $3 feature a $3 feature no $3 short film. And after you can you feel that you've got something, you got that special sauce, that thing that makes you you and you've got that voice that's on that film, don't care how it looks. Just put it on, put it on there. And like Jay duplass said, people will forgive a bad looking movie and a bad sounding movie, if the story is there. And when you're starting out, that's what you got to do. Get the story done, because we can always add the technical stuff. Look how many beautifully technical movies there are in Hollywood that are garbage. Because the story's not there, but it looks beautiful. We're looking for stories. That's what Hollywood is looking for. So master that first then worry about all the other aspects of filmmaking which you will learn along the way, as well. And in the show notes, I'll throw a couple extra bonus videos in there of the boys as well. And again, definitely check out their book like brothers is definitely an amazing read. And as always keep that also going keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.

YOUTUBE VIDEO

LINKS

  • Duplass Brothers – Official Site
  • LIKE BROTHERS – Buy the Book
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B00FVYZA00″ locale=”US” tag=”whatisbroke-20″]Puffy Chair[/easyazon_link]
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B004B2XAVE” locale=”US” tag=”whatisbroke-20″]Cyrus[/easyazon_link]
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B009M8TVRO” locale=”US” tag=”whatisbroke-20″]Safety Not Guaranteed[/easyazon_link]
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B00MB6GP7I” locale=”US” tag=”whatisbroke-20″]The One I Love[/easyazon_link]
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B01LXESKMK” locale=”US” tag=”whatisbroke-20″]Blue Jay[/easyazon_link]
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B008234K3U” locale=”US” tag=”whatisbroke-20″]Jeff, Who Lives at Home[/easyazon_link]
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B001OJKX0S” locale=”US” tag=”whatisbroke-20″]Baghead[/easyazon_link]

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IFH 104: ‘Blue Jay’ & Directing Mark Duplass with Alex Lehmann

In today’s episode, I have the pleasure of interviewing first-time feature film director Alex Lehmann. And his first film is a hell of a way to launch a directing career. His new film is called Blue Jay starring Mark Duplass (who also wrote and produced) and Sarah Paulson (recent Emmy Winner for The People vs OJ Simpson).

Blue Jay just had it’s a world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival to rave reviews:

“If the hour and a half spent inside this story seems fleeting, it’s only because sometimes that’s the best you can ask of a good nostalgia trip.” – IndieWire

“Mark Duplass and Sarah Paulson have extraordinary chemistry, painting a cumulative portrait of the fragility and rareness of being truly in sync with a partner.” – Slate Magazine

Meeting by chance when they return to their tiny California hometown, two former high-school sweethearts (Mark Duplass and Sarah Paulson) reflect on their shared past through the lens of their differently dissatisfied presents, in this tender, wise and affecting chamber drama from first-time feature director Alex Lehmann.

BTW, Alex Lehmann used DaVinci Resolve to create the black and white LUT for Blue Jay. Check out my conversation with Alex Lehmann and if you listen to until the end he promises to give out Mark Duplass’s personal cell number. Apparently this is how Mark likes to be pitched. Enjoy!

Blue Jay’ is available on AmazonGoogle PlayiTunes, and most other VOD platforms.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 6:35
I like to welcome to the show Alex Lehmann, man. Thanks for coming by man.

Alex Lehmann 6:38
Hey, man, thanks for having me.

Alex Ferrari 6:40
So I wanted to first off, get to your origin story. How did you get into the film business?

Alex Lehmann 6:47
My high school had a really really swanky TV studio. And I spent all of my free time there like my free periods and my lunches. And I would stay after after school until the TV studio teacher would lock up. And he would drop me off at home actually, on the way home probably probably this day and age it would be not out. Right.

Alex Ferrari 7:11
I was about to say today not a habit.

Alex Lehmann 7:13
But my house, you know, my house was on the way home and so he would just you know, I'd say to the TV studio till like five o'clock 530 every day. How's it going? Like a lot of like school news stuff, but like I'd take cameras out and make movies with my buddies. And you know, you were an AV nerd. Basically, I was totally an AV nerd. Yeah, absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 7:34
So So you got started with the being an AV nerd, then how did that translate into actually getting a job?

Alex Lehmann 7:40
Um, well, I mean, I went to film school after after high school. And that's when I realized, like, I wanted to do more film and less TV stuff. And, and Funny enough, you know, I wanted to I wanted to direct because I, you know, I've been doing everything I've been editing, writing, you know, I was just, you know, the one man band, you know, like, we all are, what we start off with, you know, our mom's camera or whatever. And, but then, some of the other kids in school really liked the way my projects looked. And they were like, Hey, how about you come be the DP on my, like, $50,000 short film or whatever, which to me was like, you know, okay, that's, there's some fun toys there. And, and, you know, and I get to, like, you know, do bigger stuff as still films to film students. And that's when I realized I can make a living at helping people on their sets, you know, by creating the images and just kind of like, you know, sometimes little bit of hand holding for first time directors that are like, hey, I want you to be my dp but also kind of, you know, if you can help me make my movie the way your movie turned out. Right. And so I found it as, you know, a way to make a living I want you know, I was kind of scared about coming out to LA and not being able to stay out here for more than six months and go back home with my tail between my legs and my, my film degree and everything and not not know what to do with the rest of my life. So I said, Alright, cameras make me money. I'm going to keep learning about these cameras and keep using them and help people with their movies. So I did that

Alex Ferrari 9:15
for a long time. Now you were homeschooled, you go to

Alex Lehmann 9:18
Emerson College in Boston. Lots of talented people coming out of there. Oh,

Alex Ferrari 9:22
very cool. So then you went to you're an East Coast guy, and then you came out here to LA to go west young man, as they say. Absolutely. And so you've been working as a cameraman and a cinematographer for a while now, how did that prepare you to be a director?

Alex Lehmann 9:38
Well, you know, I think every director cinematographer relationship is a little different as far as you know, where the ideas originate and how much you know the this the flow of the set is being dictated by you know, camera setups or by blocking or by, you know, acting or whatever and So I found myself being hired mostly by first time directors. It wasn't it wasn't the third movie fourth movie directors that would look at my reel and go, man, he makes stuff look gorgeous and you know, it's time to you know, take my my third movie my fourth movie up a notch and hire this guy cuz he's got this just gorgeous look that nobody says it was more like, you know, like, I think I kind of got the reputation of like, the DP that helps you get your movie made. And, and at the same time isn't that tyrant dp who like, is actually just going to take over your movie and you know, get the shots that he wants for his first reel or like, you know, just just be, you know, be a dick about it. And I say on your pie, you

Alex Ferrari 10:45
can say deck, you can say whatever you want, sir. Alright. So, so, so, in many ways, I guess that kept you working. Because that's, you know, that's definitely somebody a lot of first time directors with like that call

Alex Lehmann 10:58
it yeah, it can be working. And for sure. I mean, I did a lot of a lot of other junk too. You know, I held plenty of cameras on reality shows and that's my first job in LA was a camera assistant on the project, greenlight series. Wow, that must have been fun. Yeah, yeah, it was real cool. And actually, is for the the horror movie for feasts. That was you know, I was on the document terian side, and just as a camera system, and then pick up an extra camera whenever I could. And, and then I eventually started shooting movies for the, for that director and for that production company. So, you know, I was kind of, it's kind of at least, I want to say smart, I guess about what reality show. I worked for knowing Hey, there's a transition into movies here. But you know, it's always it's always harrowing that those first couple jobs in LA, you want to make sure you eat it's never going to be exactly what you want to do. But you want to make sure you're you're setting yourself up for for growth and transition at least so that one worked out.

Alex Ferrari 11:58
Yeah, it's true. It never ever works out how you plan. I've never met somebody is like, Oh, yeah, this is exactly how I planned this whole thing out.

Alex Lehmann 12:06
Which, which is a theme of the movie bluejay.

Alex Ferrari 12:09
Yes, yes. Which will bring great into blue. Jay, can you tell me about how Blue Jay came to being?

Alex Lehmann 12:16
Yeah, so um, ironically, things never work out. The way they're planned. And, and there is no golden ticket in in the movie industry. Except Mark duplass asked me if I wanted to direct dp a movie that he wrote. So

Alex Ferrari 12:35
that's a pretty good golden ticket. I just got I'm just throwing that out there. That's not a bad golden ticket brother.

Alex Lehmann 12:40
Yeah, I guess I guess after 12 or 13 years of, of, you know, kind of busting my butt. I

Alex Ferrari 12:46
know you're an overnight success, or you're an overnight success like everybody else.

Alex Lehmann 12:50
It was Yes, it was, you know, I had done some other work with Mark. But yeah, so blue j blue j comes up, Mark says, you know, we just finished work together on this documentary. I made Asperger's or us which is worth getting into at some point, but, but he liked working with me and said, I got this little film that I've been conceptualizing. And here's like, a two page outline. What do you think about what do you think about it? I was like, Yeah, okay. Yeah. Okay, we're doing this. That's great. And so, you know, so yeah, my first narrative feature is, I consider myself incredibly lucky. fortunate. I understand that that doesn't always happen.

Alex Ferrari 13:35
You think? Yeah, so you got so and then you met Mark working on the league?

Alex Lehmann 13:41
Yeah, so I was a camera I was a camera operator on the league and, and we, you know, we shared our passion for for fart jokes on the set, and then we'd hang out at craft services, we would talk about her or like little indie films that we loved watching and you know, kind of our, you know, we shared similar taste for things like that. And we were both kind of melancholic, often dark or depressive in our thoughts, but you know, introspective will just

Alex Ferrari 14:11
say, you're an introvert, an introvert, introspective, introspective,

Alex Lehmann 14:14
introspective, but we so we vibed on some stuff. And he caught wind of this this documentary that I was on our hiatus weeks, I'd go out and shoot this, this comedy troupe called Asperger's or us and these these guys, you know, they have, that they're all have Asperger's syndrome. And and they, they they've been building this the sketch show, and I found it really fascinating. So I fly out on my hiatus weeks, and I, you know, just make this documentary by myself as a one man band. And then I was editing it And finally, you know, felt like I had something to show and I figured, maybe I should show it to mark and see what happens a guy, he's a guy who can get shit done. So Yeah, for anybody listening to this at the very end of the podcast, so listen to this whole I'll give you marks cell phone number, his home address. He wants submissions from everyone.

Alex Ferrari 15:17
Of course, please yeah, if you could give a direct Yeah, direct, you could direct cell phone would be perfect.

Alex Lehmann 15:24
I've been working with a guy for you know, for four years. And it was still incredibly you know, I don't like asking people for things and so it was incredibly uncomfortable for me to even just kind of bring it up.

Alex Ferrari 15:37
Hey, do you want to kind of look at my documentary?

Alex Lehmann 15:39
Yeah, exactly. That, you know, thankfully, the, the lead was ending, so it was like, Okay, if he hates it, or if like, he just doesn't want to have anything to do with it. At least we don't have, like, a whole a whole other season where it's gonna be just awkward on set every time like, Hey, man, I saw you. Yeah, you know, it was a, it was, oh, hey, the carrot sticks are coming out. Gotta go. You know, I knew like I whatever. Like, even if the guy never talks to me again, at least I know. Like, I busted my ass on this documentary, I put my money into it, I put, I put you know, a ton of effort into it. And I believed in it and says, like, I like this is this is I'm taking this one shot. This is the one shot I'm taking it. And, and he liked it. And so, you know, he gave me a couple of notes. And he, you know, he and his brother came on as executive producers and you know, helped me kind of finish it out from a financial and creative perspective. And, you know, we got it, we got it to south by that we sold it to Netflix and all that kind of stuff that just wouldn't have happened without a guy like Mark behind it. And we just really enjoyed working together.

Alex Ferrari 16:48
So Mark, Mark, is that 800 pound gorilla without question in the room. He is he's he's him and his brother. I mean, they've been doing and I mean, I've talked about mark on the show many times and on the website, I'm a huge fan of marks. And and what he does in puffy chair and the whole mumble core movement when it started and stuff like that. And he's an inspiration man, he really is an inspiration of what, what can be done in the film industry without question and they seems at least he seems very down to earth.

Alex Lehmann 17:19
He's such a jerk.

Alex Ferrari 17:23
Never again,

Alex Lehmann 17:24
great actor. That's all I got to say. Great. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And to boot. He's just just a very kind human being who just Yeah, he just, he just listens to people. And he's just very present. So

Alex Ferrari 17:39
and melancholic.

Alex Lehmann 17:40
And melancholic.

Alex Ferrari 17:42
So how was it and so you're directing your first narrative. All right, and then you've got your directing a thing written by or film written by Mark duplass. And then you're going to direct Mark duplass and Sarah Paulson in a movie? How do you go about that?

Alex Lehmann 18:00
Well, um, you know, we, we were going off of, you know, not a complete script, we were going off of a script and I guess you could call it

Alex Ferrari 18:14
it was gonna ask about the writing. How does it is it like his normal writing improv heavy kind of stuff? What's his process as far as the writing and how the script is brought up?

Alex Lehmann 18:22
I don't, I don't know what his process is for everything. And I think this one was a little different. But, but I can tell you as far as the process for this one, we you know, we started he had two pages. And you're gonna think like, two pages that really must not have had a lot. Those two pages had everyone every word had importance, is it kind of amazing when I read it was like, wow, these two pages tell the entire story and more importantly, Tell, tell, uh, you know, have a mood have a tone that just, you know, is just, it just, it just hits you, you know, at the core. So we started with that, and, you know, we he and I already know, back and forth, like some thoughts and kind of built, built it out a little bit. And then, and then we cast Sarah, and we had a couple of production meetings, where Sarah Mark myself, and a couple of the film's producers who were insanely talented and generous in their, their ideas, Mel aslin and Zanna Rhonda and Sid fleischman. They would, they would, we would all sit together and it was half a half prep, where we would just kind of discuss the story and like kind of throw out ideas and talk about what was resonating what themes we were kind of, you know, finding as as subtext. And part of it was like, group therapy where we were, we were starting to tell our stories, you know, our high school sweetheart, you know, our guy. There's High School moment stuff which is but it's you know it's amazing because you end up I mean it was kind of like The Breakfast Club right where everybody just has put themselves out there so hard in front of everyone that you build this trust and this bond and and so we you know we would throw all this stuff out and Mark would you know go back and write some more based on what we're doing and I started realizing that the most important thing I could do was was listen to kind of what everyone else was saying especially mark and Sarah. We shot the film chronologically the guy had ideas I wanted to throw out here and there but but everybody had so many good ideas that it started turning into okay what like make sure that you're not just you know when you're not talking make sure you're not just thinking of your own idea make sure you're you're really listening to especially what Mark and Sarah are connecting to and what what story they want to tell because otherwise you know, you just get you know, it isn't conversations a lot of times like people check out and they're not listening to you anymore Just thinking about what they're gonna say next. And it says like I gotta be so present so aware of what they're saying or even just like you know, what, what it feels like they're thinking when they're not talking and so I kind of just really tried to pick up what what you know the stories they wanted to tell where and what what you know, they wanted to bring to it because you know, everybody's got some personal stuff that that was thrown into this film and we changed some of the details and everything we want to protect everybody but it's a very personal movie in a collective fashion

Alex Ferrari 21:38
so it's a little bit of a little bit of every buddy stories in this and one way shape or form in that group they were talking about absolutely so that's why it's so you know, and I've seen like I told you earlier I've only been able to see half of it because I just got access to it a little bit ago but the parts that I've seen a little bit over half the movie already I can there is that honesty that realness it doesn't seem manufactured it doesn't seem like it just came out of somebody's head at least it feels a little it feels real if

Alex Lehmann 22:09
that's what we're going for for sure is like a richness a richness in in in honesty and honesty This is not the the most plot heavy film you're ever going to see but but as far as far as the characters like they're very well developed characters and and you know, yeah, there's just everything that that they say is coming from a genuine place, even when it's not like you know, from the actors, it's just it is coming from somewhere. But But I think that to finally answer your question I'm the most I think the most important thing that I could do directing actors who are amazing and way more experienced than I am who don't need me to help them with their acting The only thing the biggest thing I could do was really just listen to to the moment and find what was genuine and just kind of in between takes me like, like yeah, this like you said like this really resonated like let's go in this direction and we shot everything chronologically so we It was really about just kind of sitting in on on on a really intimate you know, conversation between two people and kind of letting them know what what was working what was resonating what felt real and and I got to bring you know my documentarian background into this where, you know, you're chasing story as a documentary, and, you know, you're not dictating what happens, but when you see something that you like, or that's interesting, or that, that makes you think, or ask more questions, you you dig deeper. And so that was, I would say, that's how I was, you know, directing other than the visual stuff obviously, as I was shooting the film as well. So it's kind of wearing both of those hats

Alex Ferrari 24:00
so so then what did you guys have a final script? Or was like what was the final piece of paper that you guys were working with on set? Was it just basically a big outline? Or what was the actual process? Yeah, there's

Alex Lehmann 24:12
probably like 1520 page script meant and then there were certain scenes that like we would talk about the day before knowing that we we actually wanted a full script for that. So you know, there's a couple scenes where mark you know, would go home at night and type type, you know, type up that three to five pages and, and we'd have that the next morning, but most most of the film was shot on a, you know, off of a 15 to 20 page document. And and shooting chronologically.

Alex Ferrari 24:42
And as far as you as a director is a kind of, you know, because I know normally in a you know, what they teach in film, school and all that kind of stuff. You have that whole you know, your whole script and everything. This is a very unique, different process, though. It's becoming more and more common nowadays. Because of Mark and Joe Swanberg and Lynn Shelton and those and those directors and filmmakers but do you find yourself as a director kind of just almost like a documentary or you're trying to catch the moment because the moments not scripted sometimes it's it just comes out do you find yourself kind of like just just preparing yourself to catch that moment?

Alex Lehmann 25:17
Yeah I think we were going for a feeling more than a precision in words or actions and so as long as we were kind of capturing the nostalgic melancholy and as you know as long as we were like feeling that that the characters of Jim and Amanda we're you know evolving together developing you know, new and interesting dynamics which when you were working with Mark duplass and Sarah Paulson like that, they're gonna do that they're just they're that good you know, as long as you've got that it's it's it's Yeah, I think it's just about finding those moments and going like that's interesting you know, and you just bank US Bank A lot of those really cool moments and you you chase extra you know, kind of extra themes and extra through lines that you give yourself you know some options in post Chris donlin are editor he's cut for togetherness he's he cut creep so he's pretty familiar with you know, the the way you know these duplass Films shoot in one way or another where you know, we we cut together different versions of scenes in case we want to chase the story this way or chase the story that way so we give ourselves some options but but at the end of the day, it's always is always about walking away from a scene feeling like we went somewhere real we were we went somewhere interesting. And none of us feels like it was a lie.

Alex Ferrari 26:53
Right now you were saying you also the cinematographer as well as the director, how do you balance having both those hats on the same set because I've done it myself and it's it's challenging to say the least.

Alex Lehmann 27:08
Um yeah you know we sometimes we were shooting single camera and sometimes we were cross shooting and the first couple days I would operate one of the cameras were cross shooting I quickly learned not to do that because then I only get to see half of what's going on. So that's one way you know, you've got to do it as if you start trying to do the cross coverage for improv like you just put put someone put people on put someone else on the camera it doesn't matter if it's you know, your gaff or your camera the assistant or just you know, your mom I don't know whatever like it's more important that you are you know, watching both sides so that's an important one and that's a lesson I learned day two or three and, and then as far as everything else, my cinematography has always been about the story and that sounds kind of cliche and I kind of hated myself for just saying it because if you're like it's like what somebody has like on their website or like on their business card but but it's true like I've never been obsessed with lenses. I was just asked to write this article about like selecting the right lens and I was like no I I usually like select the lenses that that make the storytelling easier. I'm never I'm never the one that's like Oh, man, this lens has a killer flare, we got to get that like I don't care. I really I you know, I spent a little time lighting I spent a little time thinking about what the what the you know, what the look needs to be but more important to me is does the shot tell the story? And you know, does the blocking benefit the story or is it just Am I just tried to fit the blocking into the frame to make something look pretty. And and when you start thinking like okay, like how do I make the cinematography work for the story you're thinking so much about the story is that you're right back to thinking like a director anyways. So I think that if you're shooting for the story, you're not a and you have a little bit of shooting experience. You're not like fumbling through the camera menu, as long as you're, as long as you've learned the basics. That stuff kind of goes on autopilot and you're you're just working towards the story anyways, and you kind of get lost in the story.

Alex Ferrari 29:30
Now what was the size of your crew?

Alex Lehmann 29:33
We were we were we were like 1213 I think 12 1314 of us and we shot it in seven days. It's it's engineered, you know, to to be achievable with something like that. We didn't want too many people. You know, it's very intimate story. We didn't want to set with just about People being loud and everything it's not all in one location A lot of people ask like oh seven days did you shoot it all in a house, but half of it is in a house, but half of it isn't but when you have you know 1213 people on your crew you don't have a lot of fans or a lot of gear or a lot of people to move around so you can actually hop around to a bunch of places every day and just shoot more

Alex Ferrari 30:26
we'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. Where did you shoot what state

Alex Lehmann 30:40
in California in crestline it's next to Big Bear

Alex Ferrari 30:44
I was gonna say it looks does it look like I thought it was like almost Colorado or Montana because of all that it just looked at it didn't look at California at all to me

Alex Lehmann 30:53
yeah it's a pretty cool area up there and and yeah we there are a couple shots specifically that like really make it feel like much much bigger mountain mountain world than than what you would expect from anything near la but yeah, it's like two hours from LA.

Alex Ferrari 31:11
Oh really? It's not that far away either. Yeah. So then what kind of lighting packages Do you use by the way

Alex Lehmann 31:19
um, I used a couple of LED like light pads light mats and like big big sources but you know they don't need to be like bright they just need to be bigger sources so that they're a little more pleasing on on actress faces. And actually, I ended up using I saw you know, there's like, like, not like the little Christmas lights but like the bigger bald ones that people use in their back in their patios and stuff. So I love the look of those I've got a couple of strands of them going around my backyard in you know around my patio table and when we're out there eating just everybody's faces like they're glowing and their eyes just have these just beautiful beautiful sparkles. And I've always thought like man this this these lights you know and the way they wrap around and they give shape they really they really create a beautiful look on people's faces but the intensity is too low because I've tried shooting stills I've tried shooting video with with them just even in my backyard I'm like it's just not not quite enough light. Well we we happen to be we shot the film with with this new Canon camera which I'll get into in a sec. Oh yeah. And it's really good at low light. So it just kind of clicked for me like oh, I'm gonna I just took down all my lights in my backyard. Not even out of like budget necessity. But but because I loved the quality of them so much. And I realized like, I'm not going to need a generator we're not going to need like crazy rigging stuff because these are just like Christmas lights. It's just use some tape and some clamps. But like you can just kind of like for anybody who's a little bit more of a lighting nerd like you can you know with because it's a it's a strand you can kind of like wrap it around so that it gives like you know better shape to the faces than just like you know,

Alex Ferrari 33:13
like but this is not practical. This is stuff off off camera using the light Yeah,

Alex Lehmann 33:17
it was off camera. Yeah, and I just read them you know, like, like up on the ceiling and tape them around and just kind of like get the shape I wanted on people's faces and knowing that the intensity of these bulbs was enough and so like you know, we got some really cool looks out of it.

Alex Ferrari 33:35
So was it so it's basically so you had some LEDs, some some basically like Flexi lights.

Alex Lehmann 33:41
I don't know what those are. But yeah, they're like like, like, two two foot by three foot led pads. I do those and and I had a bunch of Christmas lights and and natural light. Yeah, and practicals too I guess like whatever you know,

Alex Ferrari 33:57
bulbs and stuff like that some bounces here and there and basically you're done.

Alex Lehmann 34:02
Yeah, yeah, but like we didn't Yeah, we that was our that was our lighting package like we got like to

Alex Ferrari 34:06
some no 200 pounds 2000 pound grip Chuck. No, five, five ton 10 ton.

Alex Lehmann 34:11
We didn't even have like an airy kit. Like it was just you know, it was like those two light pads and and like the Christmas lights and you know, and the lamps and practicals Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 34:23
so tell me about this camera you were shooting with.

Alex Lehmann 34:24
So it was developed by canon for the military or for security. It doesn't have an onboard recorder. It doesn't have onboard power. So ready, you know ready to go. You say this is not made for filmmaking. Basically a security camera, but it's a full frame sensor that only shoots 10 ad because it basically has these giant pixels that just suck up any light that's out there. There's like photon magnets. I just geeked out big time.

Alex Ferrari 35:00
I feel you brother I feel you

Alex Lehmann 35:02
yeah and so and so yeah you end up being able to shoot it like I mean I tested it all the way to like 100,000 ISO and as long as I was getting like a half decent exposure at at that you know at that setting I the noise was not too bad and on top of that we you know we were shooting we knew we were gonna make it black and white yes it was at some grain yes and so I was like I that like now I have to worry about noise even less but but yeah the camera The camera was performing really well I got like 50,000 ISO and sometimes 100,000 ISO and yeah it also has this full frame sensor which just it you know, it's it's like what the big movies are doing a lot a lot now like with like The Revenant right like anybody was shooting 65 No, to get that feeling that that really intimate feeling. Or Tarantino shooting you know, he shot 70 notes out of a cabin not because he wanted the VISTAs but because he wanted he wanted that relation relational space with his actors inside you know, inside the cabin. Well, that full frame sensor looks gorgeous with you know, some Canon 70 primes and and it really just allows you to just be a lot closer to the actors without like having like a fisheye. That like just starts distorting and making it feel less personal. So the combination it really was, it wasn't just about a low light camera it was also like the full frame sensor and the image that it that it created with the with the center Prime's it just I don't know, it just felt like very like it was going to be a very intimate look. So yeah,

Alex Ferrari 36:56
so the next question is, why did you guys decide to shoot black and white because obviously black and white lessens your marketability but I think with the cast that you had this kind of movie it is I guess that's not as big of a of a problem as it would be for an independent filmmaker with no name actors in their movie correct but what what made you choose to shoot black and white?

Alex Lehmann 37:17
Well we I mean we have to give props to Netflix you know the do classes have a you know this development deal this four picture deal with Netflix and we knew that this film probably was going to go into that

Alex Ferrari 37:31
so is this part of that four to four picture deal?

Alex Lehmann 37:33
It is it's the first oh cool and we reached out to Netflix when we're in prep and just said like hey you know we're looking at making this movie and you know we got Sarah mark and a very small chamber piece and we want to make it black and why and they said no problem go for it.

Alex Ferrari 37:54
I hear I hear honestly I hear working with Netflix as a creator they just kind of really let you loose in a lot of ways

Alex Lehmann 38:03
yeah and you know by weight smart like i don't i don't i appreciate what they're doing and you know as a as a filmmaker, it's it's exciting. When I think about it from business perspective, it's like yeah, you know, you want to attract people who are inspired and you want to have as many different and interesting things as possible. So it's like yeah, please let it's a smart move. It's a smart move on their behalf and we're all very thankful for it. But But yeah, so I'm not unlike something like the man who wasn't there where it's like the Coen brothers and and even the Coen brothers are being told like well shoot it in color, and we'll probably let you release in black and white but let's just shoot in color to cover our asses. It's like the Coen Brothers let them do whatever they want to do but like you know, studios, especially when it's a bigger budget they want to they want to you know, cover you know, protect their assets and it makes sense yeah, absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 38:59
Fair enough. No, you brought up budget I know that's a very sensitive subject. Can you tell us an estimate of what the budget was on this because so people understand not an exact Of course, but just you know, under something

Alex Lehmann 39:10
it was under 50 million.

Alex Ferrari 39:12
Nice. Nice.

Alex Lehmann 39:15
Yeah. Under 50 million center 50 million I swear. And as soon as

Alex Ferrari 39:21
it looks like 52 million tell you the truth.

Alex Lehmann 39:24
I appreciate that we'll release the actual budget once once the IRS is done auditing us

Alex Ferrari 39:31
a great that's I'm gonna that's gonna be my answer. Now from From now on, anytime anyone asks. Well, my budgets very cool. Now this premiered at was a Toronto. Yeah. So was that the first time you were at Toronto, the Toronto Film Festival.

Alex Lehmann 39:47
I've been there as a as a dp. Okay. A couple of first short and a an adopt and adopt that I shot but that was years ago. It's it's that that festival is just blown up.

Alex Ferrari 40:00
It's an amazing I spent a long time since I've been at a festival too but when I went It was a beautiful festival But how was it so there's a different experience about going as a dp and then going with a movie that has stars Mark duplessis Sarah Paulson that's you know, premiering there how does that whole adventure How did that tell us like a fly on the wall How was that adventure for you?

Alex Lehmann 40:20
Um the hotel room was really nice i mean you know it was it was overwhelming it was all it was all really overwhelming to be completely honest. There's a lot of really wonderful talented people there there's you know, like any festival there's so many movies you want to see and you're never gonna get a chance to see all of them and you want to like you want to meet everyone and talk to everyone me personally like I want to stay away from all the business people and the agents and the producers and whatever and I just want to go meet other filmmakers and actors and watch their stuff and gush about you know how they did it differently and I've learned something by watching them but um but you know it's it's also like you know, an industry it's definitely a very much very much an industry festival where we were there promoting the film and that was really fun and you know, Mark was there and we screened it we premiered it for 1000 people you know, at the Ryerson theatre we we'd never screened the film in a theater for anyone

Alex Ferrari 41:32
rapido shot 10 ADP right

Alex Lehmann 41:34
there shot 10 ADP okay but when we did a couple test screenings when we were you know, cutting the film it just kind of seeing if you know if people liked it or if we were just free just made this little thing that like 15 of us like everybody else hated

Alex Ferrari 41:52
there's always that moment when you're making a movie that you're like Does anyone else like this besides

Alex Lehmann 41:56
Yeah, are we just getting a whole bunch of inside jokes is that right

Alex Ferrari 42:00
exactly it's it's your you live in a bubble though when you're when you're a filmmaker sometimes because you you watch the same cut I'm sure you must have seen that cut at least 60 100 times prior to release and whatever was working on the first two or three times you watched it doesn't have the same impact on the 100th

Alex Lehmann 42:19
oh yeah for sure you thank you and you're always you know,

Alex Ferrari 42:23
you feel lost at the end of it you just like what is it is it good anymore? I don't know I

Alex Lehmann 42:27
really yeah you're looking for ways to make it better and you're in you're looking for the flaws and you're trying to you know just polish it and polish it every time you're watching it you're looking for anything else you can polish and so you're not appreciating anymore so you like to get to people appreciate this like can people get lost in this in this thing because all I can do is look for mistakes which thankfully like right before we got TIFF I had that moment like that you know you QC the the DCP and you know you know that you're you're in the clear and you're just watching it in case something weird happens but you know it's locked you know nobody's gonna let you unlock it like you know unless it just there's unless it sounds like there's a T rex like walking in the background for some weird reason you know your producers are like you're done we need to send us a TIFF or you know we're already behind schedule and you know we're not spending another dime on this it's locked it's great to like finally when you get to that point you can watch the movie knowing you know, it's like put put down the weapon

Alex Ferrari 43:31
just put the knife down. Yeah, put the

Alex Lehmann 43:35
knife down, put the cutting scissors down for whatever and and and so yeah, I did get to enjoy the movie before Tiff and actually just like, cry and laugh and do all the do all the feelings which, you know, I didn't get to do for the months that we were trying to finish the film. But But even so, the biggest screening we had and this wasn't the final version of the film, but the last time we test screened a version of the film, it was 10 people in a room on some couches and with the TV and all of a sudden we're in a giant theater with 1000 people I must be insane. Yeah, it's kind of crazy and it's you know, it's like a 10 ADP like which you know, nowadays isn't that impressive. It's you know, pretty low rez for, you know, however big that screen was and and it's just like very much a little DIY film and a lot of ways so.

Alex Ferrari 44:31
Well, yeah, I mean, it seems I mean, well under 50 million nowadays doesn't get you not a lot. Yeah. But from what you're telling me from, at least from the production side, it sounds like a very do II DIY kind of film. Yeah, sure you have big talent in front of you. But at the end of the day, it was just you and a few cameras and 10 to 12 people making a little very small, you know, small movie with a very intimate story and being projected up there. So how did that 1080 project

Alex Lehmann 45:00
You know it held up great it really did and I don't know if people you know I don't know if we're all more forgiving because it's black and white and because it had a little bit of a it's got like a polished

Alex Ferrari 45:12
gritty look. You added grain to it. I did a little bit

Alex Lehmann 45:16
of grain Yeah, added grain to the theatrical theatrical one more than the than what will be on Netflix. I tested it on like some screens and some TVs and as a guy like we can't we can't do like one green pass for for everything so we added a little extra green for the theatrical

Alex Ferrari 45:37
okay so forth yet so anytime you're doing a theatrical you added a little bit more grain to it now what was the purpose for the adding of the grain just just I mean on a filmmaker to filmmaker I just wanted to know why you did it as far as its aesthetic Is it because you're trying to get that warm film feeling that we all grew up with

Alex Lehmann 45:56
yeah cuz cuz grains cool man

Alex Ferrari 45:58
a grain is cool i do i do good good grain not that dancing and not dancing ants.

Alex Lehmann 46:03
No not dancing us yeah, we tested we tested some grain and you know everybody's got their propriety proprietary grains now like hbos got their vinyl you know, I guess vinyls canceled now the bad they're like big proprietary grand for vinyl. We did a bunch of tests with with different film grains. And we found one that that felt really natural. But yeah, I don't know, it just it just, it gives image a little bit more life. Or it can. And this is this is a film that doesn't have color. It doesn't have sweeping crane shots. It doesn't. It has like one dolly shot.

Alex Ferrari 46:39
I want to say you had $1 Do you have a dolly,

Alex Lehmann 46:41
we had that wait a little doorway Dolly, I was gonna say, I use it once. I didn't want to use it for much. It's you know, there's, it's, it's a simply shot film. And, you know, a lot of the stories is driven by by these characters talking so you don't, you know, you don't you don't want to do too much you want to you really let it let it live with the actors. And and so like a little bit of a little bit of grain kind of gives that just subconscious feeling of like life and movement. I guess that sounds a little pretentious. I'm going to go back then. I'm going to go back to film. Great. Nice. Cool. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 47:23
Fair enough. Now, so Netflix obviously was involved prior to you guys filming correct?

Alex Lehmann 47:32
They they were definitely saying that this seemed like the first film that they want to pick up from the deal. Okay. But I don't think it was officially a Netflix film right away.

Alex Ferrari 47:46
And then but you're also doing like you're releasing it in the in this kind of new distribution model where it's streaming and in the theaters on the same day.

Alex Lehmann 47:53
Yeah. So we have these these great distributors that you know, the duplass has worked with a bunch they called the orchard. They curate a lot of really good films and excited about a lot of the stuff on their slate, but um, there Yeah, so they're doing our theatrical and our VOD. And then eventually the film will be on Netflix. But But yeah, actually, it comes out. I don't know when this podcast airs, but we premiere in, we do our New York theatrical release October 7, and our la theatrical release October 14, and it does VOD and digital platforms October 11.

Alex Ferrari 48:32
So, so it will be on Netflix on October 11. as well.

Alex Lehmann 48:35
No, it'll be on Netflix. TBD. But but not in October.

Alex Ferrari 48:40
Not in October, but probably soon there. Therefore, after afterwards, yeah. After VOD and and and the other digital platforms. Yep. Very very cool, man. Um, so I have three questions that I asked all of my guests and this is this is my Oprah moment so prepare yourself

Alex Lehmann 49:01
my couch right now

Alex Ferrari 49:02
I get ready to cry.

Alex Lehmann 49:03
Oh, there's a furball is that what everybody gets?

Alex Ferrari 49:08
So what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in life or in the film business? Um Wow. If you were a tree, what kind of no joke.

Alex Lehmann 49:22
The lesson the longest. So the hardest

Alex Ferrari 49:27
lesson that took you the longest to learn in life We're in the business

Alex Lehmann 49:31
right now. All I can think of is the lyrics the hardest to learn was the least complicated that I just misquote that is that no, no. Lego 97 I would say that everybody is feeling what you're feeling. When you're you know, everybody's got those moments of insecurity and and doubt and feeling like they don't belong because it's very It's very easy to to just go inward and focus on what you're feeling. And it's like, man, I don't know, I don't know if I'm doing the right thing. If I'm making the right choice, whether it's a life choice or an onset choice, or an editorial choice or whatever. And you you think, like, man, I just, I just really don't know sometimes. And yeah, I think only recently I've realized, like, just every everybody, you know, even the ones that just seem like they've got it all together. Everybody is is constantly having those same questions, no matter who they are.

Alex Ferrari 50:36
And securities and so you mean James Cameron after he's gonna do the next avatar is gonna go? I don't know that I do it right?

Alex Lehmann 50:44
I I'd be willing to bet that James Cameron's got plenty of insecurities as far as how he processes them, how he shows them or hides them or whatever. That's what's different between you and James and me. And, but But yeah, everyone. And it just seems so obvious. So that's, I think that's why that that sound was going through my head. But, but but you know, it's just it is one of those things where, if you're an inward thinking person, you can you can forget that, like, everybody's got that same struggle.

Alex Ferrari 51:17
Yeah. And I mean, I've been in post for better part of two decades, and I've had I've worked on a lot of feature films, and I know that's very true. I mean, no matter how big the person is in the room, while you're editing or color grading or finishing the movie, they all have those insecurities. They just like, Is it good? You know, is it are those jokes funny? Did it cry in the right spot? So we're all human beings at the end of the day, and we're all artists, you know, filmmakers are artists at the end of the day, and artists are insecure, generally speaking.

Alex Lehmann 51:47
A lot. A lot of wonderful things come from that insecurity.

Alex Ferrari 51:52
Now, what are your three favorite films of all time?

Alex Lehmann 51:56
All right. jaws is number one. I'm sure it's been

Alex Ferrari 52:01
on that it's been on the list many times on the show. Yeah.

Alex Lehmann 52:06
I'm going to say you know, it It definitely varies, but I'm gonna say just to keep this podcast moving Hot Fuzz is the movie that I love that movie every time I go back to it I'm like oh shit and he did this and he did that that just you know that's the kind of movie that I love where you just I don't know it's like it's like airplane where you just go oh, you know instead of just like you know gags and stuff it's it's you know, it's plot stuff it's characters out Yeah, Hot Fuzz is a very is a brilliant movie to me that just doesn't get the credit it deserves and I know a lot of people love it but you got to like watch it like twice in the same week to really realize how much thought was put into

Alex Ferrari 52:52
everything like you brought up airplane to get like every time I even think about our planet crack up Yeah, yeah, have you ever seen a grown man naked do me

Alex Lehmann 53:03
Yeah, like I feel like the filmmakers just like he just like worked on the movie so much with it like anytime there's a void of even half a second we're gonna find a joke in there whether it's a sight gag or whatever like we like we're just gonna cram the you know the jokes in there it's amazing. Exactly really as early as and what was your third um the 400 blows is a movie that that I connected with a young age Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 53:31
it's a good film. It's a really good film.

Alex Lehmann 53:33
Yeah Yeah, I like that that film a lot and that that definitely speaks closer to the kind of kinds of films that I like to make or I just you know really really like to stick with a character or a couple characters and even if you put them through a gauntlet it's all about you know them and just kind of how they're they're they're getting through that gauntlet Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 53:57
and then what was the like the funniest story you can actually say publicly that happened on set

Alex Lehmann 54:06
hmm well that time that mark punched Sarah out chip is black eyes We had to oh you said that you can say folks is

Alex Ferrari 54:17
a public you can say publicly so that you can say I'll edit that out sir.

Alex Lehmann 54:24
No, you know, it is a very is very just a positive set I'm trying to think

Alex Ferrari 54:31
while takes nobody like just broke for one reason or another.

Alex Lehmann 54:34
I mean, there's there's an outtake that made made it into the film. There's I mean, a sped tech saga is not as

Alex Ferrari 54:42
nice I just thought this could take right before I caught that's where I'm actually where I'm at in the movie. Yeah.

Alex Lehmann 54:47
I mean, that was that was fun. That was a nice little gift. But um,

Alex Ferrari 54:51
it was a really good spit take by the way.

Alex Lehmann 54:53
It was it was very real, very unplanned, and they kept going. And it was as fun is

Alex Ferrari 55:00
about those capturing those moments, it's like capturing that magic. It's, it's, it is like a documentarian and a lot of ways. But what Yeah,

Alex Lehmann 55:07
you know, it's you want to capture, capture that lightning in a bottle. And you know that. I mean, listen, like really, really good filmmakers can recreate those moments, like champs like that, you know, there's a lot of people that are just, you know, I mean, there's certain filmmakers that will do 100 takes to get it exactly the way that they wanted it or to give themselves every option that they need to cut it. And that's a great way to make films and especially if you've done it well for, you know, 20 years, you get to that point where you really are going to be the person who can refine and you've got actors that just can dial it in. And, you know, I think Sarah is actually one of one of those actors for sure. And, you know, Mark is, is good at that. But Mark's background is not a classical training, he he is the most aware and in the moment person you'll ever meet. If you have a conversation with them, you'll feel like the rest of the world doesn't exist to you to him, he's there. And that's a big part of what he brings to his acting. And and so you know, he is good at like recreating moments, but he's even better at just being incredibly genuine, incredibly genuine in the moment. So you know, we really look to capture that lightning in a bottle and if we've got it, and we're happy we go home, we don't we don't say now let's make the lightning a little bit brighter for this take. Let's just see if we can, you know, tweak the lightning? Or can the lightning come in like half a second later to not Dude, you just fucking cut the lightning in the bottle. You just nailed it. Why are we doing it again? Yeah, like this is, it wasn't exactly what any of us had planned for. It's not a Kubrick set. No, it's the anti Kubrick set and you know, you get you get to go home every day, with these amazing things that happened. And it's kind of like life, like, you know, I dare anybody to try to write down on a piece of paper exactly what's going to happen to them today, and if they get it, right, I'm going to say your life is boring. Go out and you know, let go out and let yourself be surprised and put yourself in, in situations that that allow for interesting things to happen, which is I give credit to you know, I'm a fan of the duplass films. And I you know, I think we're some people fall short of it and trying to replicate it, it's, you can't just have two characters be somewhere and talk and expect that the lightning is going to strike you need to create that perfect condition. And a big part of it is, is developing these two developing characters that have things that they need from each other and want from each other and, you know, putting them in scenarios where those things can happen and have somewhere to go. So you know, you do you have to create the conditions for the lightning. I'm not gonna say it's, it's, you know, it's just as easy as sitting around waiting for lightning to strike. But um, but at the same time, it's it's very much being aware and open minded and lightning shows up in all different forms.

Alex Ferrari 58:35
And final, final question, is there anything you can if you if you were gonna give one piece of advice to filmmakers just starting out in the business? What would that be?

Alex Lehmann 58:46
Um, do everything for a little bit. You know, don't don't don't try to just follow a path you've set out for yourself. And if I'm giving two pieces of I'm cheating on your question, I don't care if I do everything to you know, take, take all the jobs, but the other thing is, like, go out and make those movies and, you know, whatever, it's cliche at this point, but like shooting on your iPhone, if you have to, you know, hey, work for Shaun

Alex Ferrari 59:17
Baker, do whatever

Alex Lehmann 59:18
you got to exactly. But like, shoot them and cut them and finish them. Don't spend a ton of money on them. Allow the first few to suck and maybe they won't, but they possibly will. And don't hate yourself when they suck and don't go broke making the first couple of sucky shorts or whatever. Like just keep doing it and doing it and doing it and you're going to get better. I guarantee you that you know when you compare yourself like we all do, you compare yourself to the filmmakers you love. You're comparing yourself to them farther along in the process. everybody you know you need to remember that they had their first films as well their first shorts and like even even what is publicly their first short like there's there's like the Scorsese the guy shaving whatever yeah which is like a you know cool little short and it's like apparently like his first short film I call bullshit on that I guarantee you I guarantee you he made some short films that were weren't as good and like they never you know they never been

Alex Ferrari 1:00:27
used for a short they didn't get a Criterion Collection on it

Alex Lehmann 1:00:30
yeah and by the way even even if he even if that was for you know what fine that's Scorsese there's plenty of room for other people like like me and you who need to make some some shitty short films and some you know some you know learn just you learn learn to suck and then and then stop sucking it's it's that easy well I just see too many people make something they had to put all their money in it or all their emotion in it and then when it's not what they wanted it to be they give up and that's just it just doesn't make any sense.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:05
Well, from what I understand the Duplo the mark and Jay made their first feature and they spent a ton of money on it and they never released it because it said it was just absolute dogshit

Alex Lehmann 1:01:15
they were they were trying to as the story goes they're trying to make the great American film and and it was dogshit and then they what they they took their mom's camera like they're about to quit the film industry yeah mom's camera and recorded that that Yeah, yeah that little

Alex Ferrari 1:01:30
short that was that got into Sundance and launched their whole career. Yeah, and then they did puffy chair I think right after that. Yeah Yes, everyone has

Alex Lehmann 1:01:40
a story other people chances to make movies which is

Alex Ferrari 1:01:42
so cool but yeah they do give they really do help other filmmakers along and they really help launch other filmmakers and they do they care they really do care and it's it's it's wonderful that they do that because a lot of people when they get to the level that the two clauses are at they don't they just forget about them and they just live in their ivory tower

Alex Lehmann 1:02:03
well yeah and i you know i don't i don't blame those people I think a lot of them are just tired be oh no I know they get rewarded bosses or anyone else it's so so much work to get to where they are. Yeah. But But yeah, I guess mark and Jay have you know reserved a little bit of energy and compassion for for other people trying to get stuff done. So yeah, there for sure.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:30
So where can people find you and find the movie?

Alex Lehmann 1:02:33
And right now I'm in Encino. So yeah, people can find me cheese I don't know I have a website Twitter.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:44
Do you have a website?

Alex Lehmann 1:02:46
Facebook? I don't know. Um,

Alex Ferrari 1:02:49
so no one can find you Alex Okay, that's fine great marketing fantastic Great.

Alex Lehmann 1:02:53
Well you know I'm not a movie I'm I'm just a guy you know just just a guy who's like at home right? A

Alex Ferrari 1:02:59
guy looking at a movie expecting you to say I love you.

Alex Lehmann 1:03:06
Alright, my Twitter handle, I promise I'll try to start using Twitter more it's at Frenchie Canuck. fr ee NCHYCAN use ek Okay, I'll put that in the show block everyone Good

Alex Ferrari 1:03:19
luck everyone getting getting that I'll put it in the show notes. Guys don't worry. And and then the movie is going to be available theatrically in New York on the seventh

Alex Lehmann 1:03:27
on the seventh. It's going to be available digitally on October 11. And it'll have a one week theatrical run. Maybe more if everybody comes Who knows? October 14 in LA

Alex Ferrari 1:03:41
Okay, great. And then after that and then probably in next few months or something like that. You can find it on Netflix where it will live forever.

Alex Lehmann 1:03:50
And absolutely and and, and the documentary that that that the duplass here the doc that started it all for us. Which I'm very proud of as

Alex Ferrari 1:04:00
well. And that's also that's on on Netflix right now.

Alex Lehmann 1:04:03
That'll that's no that'll be on Netflix. Soon, right around right around when it when bluejay hits Asperger's Russia hit as well.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:12
Vincent. Fantastic. I'll put links to all that guys in the show notes. And then as you promised, Alex, what is this if you want to submit something to Mark duplass? What is that? What is that information?

Alex Lehmann 1:04:22
Yeah, don't don't tweet at them or email them. Yeah, he prefers you just call him directly so you can pitch your ideas. And his phone number is 81832

Alex Ferrari 1:04:32
Hello, Alex. Alex, are you there? Damn it! So close so close to get Mark duplass's number I'm gonna have to see if I can get Alex back on the line. Sorry if I teased you guys with that. But you know technology What are you gonna do it just cut off and I couldn't get him back on the line. You know, things suck that way sometimes. But anyway, man, I hope you really enjoyed that interview with Alex. Not only does he have an amazing first name, by But I know I really felt like he dropped a lot of great knowledge bombs, and really got an inside view of not only how Mark works, but how he worked on this project. And it's pretty fascinating, I really wanted to hear about more about his camera and what he was using, which seemed a little bit outside the box. And, you know, and I just wanted to kind of shine a light guys that, you know, just because it's a, you know, a movie that has big stars in it, and is on Netflix and getting a theatrical, you know, it's not that, you know, it's basically a movie. In a house, there's three people in the entire movie. And basically 99% of the movie is just two people are talking and having conversations, and it's visually stimulating, and they have so much fun, and there's so much heart in the movie. And that's what I'm trying to say you don't have to go so big, you know, you don't have to make it so complicated. You know, just get down to the core. Now when you do that, you've got nowhere to hide. In other words, visual effects in action and spectacle will not hide a bad story. So it's a little bit braver to do what Mark and Alex were doing in in Blue Jay. And that's kind of like what we did with mag, you know, there is no world building, there is no big visual effects or action sequences or anything like that. It's the story, it's the performances, it's the characters. And for better or worse, I put myself out there with Meg and we'll see how the world takes her. But, but just guys, don't don't forget, you don't have to go so big. Just tell a good story. And if you tell a good story, and keep it simple, like it was a kiss, keep it simple, stupid, you might be able to get through those hurdles of what you've been trying to do to try to get a feature film made, or to get a project made or something shot, you know, just don't don't build it up so much in your head. That's what I did, unfortunately, for almost two decades, but now I'm free and I'm making movies and that's that's all that's important, man, you're creating art. So I hope you guys like that a lot. Please don't forget to head over to filmmaking podcast calm and leave me a hopefully good review on iTunes. It really helps us out a lot. And of course, as always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.

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