Today is a momentous day at Assholes Watching Movies because we’re giving out a prestigious award to the two most hard-working guys in Hollywood, Mark and Jay Duplass. These two have so much hustle that there’s hardly a corner in all of dusty Los Angeles that they haven’t conquered, so when we called up Queen Bey herself to crown them with all the glory implicated in this event, she didn’t hesitate to say yes. To be fair, Rihanna and Katy Perry also accepted but those girls are so confused they couldn’t stop crowning themselves. So, Jay & Mark, in the name of Beyoncé, with the power invested by her entire Beyhive, I now pronounce you Most Industrious Assholes.
Just who are these indefatigable guys? Jay you may know from the show Transparent, while Mark’s claim to fame was The League. Then they both appeared on the show they wrote and directed themselves, Togetherness. But that’s just what they do in their spare time. They’re also writing or producing or directing or micro-financing movies pretty much round the clock. Movies are either their passion, or their death wish.
“I consistently go to therapy and work on this one issue. … ‘How do I be a workaholic, do what we love to do, and not die of a heart attack, destroy myself and my family, and keep my friends?’” – a commendable insight from Mark.
The Duplass brothers have been at heart of the Mumblecore movement for a long time. Mumblecore movies are a subgenre of indies that are known by their incredibly small budgets, their “natural” (read: amateur) acting, with an emphasis on dialogue over plot, lots of which may be improvised.
Together they’ve written and directed The Puffy Chair (it debuted at SXSW, which is where the Mumblecore genre was first identified in 2005), Baghead, Cyrus, Jeff, Who Lives at Home, and The Do-Deca Pentathlon. They’ve also produced or executive produced Adult Beginners, Creep, Tangerine, Safety Not Guaranteed, The Skeleton Twins, The Overnight, and half a bazillion more (or less). These dudes are busy. And if the days start growing magical 25th and 26th hours, they’ve also got production deals with both HBO and Netflix, plus they’ve got a book deal at Random House so they can school us in the art of collaboration, which is a rarity in the ego-driven business of Hollywood.
Talented, busy, and honourable: now that their names have bank, their production company isn’t just about churning out Duplass stuff. They’re also bringing up lots of their friends along with them. They’ve got enough pull to make pretty much whatever they please, but they’re sticking close to their humble beginnings. The brothers are famous for bottom lines of less than a million dollars, and they always come in under budget. With their success and auteur status they’ve recently been asked to helm a real popcorn movie (shh – a superhero one!) and of course they turned it down, unwilling to make the kind of compromises that would entail. “We’re not making that level of money [of directing a blockbuster franchise],” Jay says. “But we don’t need that level of money because we lived like starving artists for 15 frickin’ years. It’s like, we don’t need things. We just like to make things.”
Jay and Mark aren’t just running their own little empire, they’re changing the industry as a whole. “There’s no excuse not to make movies on the weekend with your friends” says Mark, and you know he really, truly means it.