The Cavalry Isn’t Coming: An Evening with Mark Duplass

Mark and Jay Duplass are the poster children for indie filmmaking success stories. These guys are the brilliant minds behind films like Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2012), Safety Not Guaranteed (2012), and the hit HBO show, Togetherness.

The two graduated from the University of Texas, each with a degree in film (Mark got his undergrad in film, Jay an MFA in film). However, neither one had a practical guide for how to turn their love of filmmaking into a full-time career. In 2003, the Duplass brothers made a $3 short film called “This Is John” that was later accepted into Sundance.

This acceptance gave them enough leverage (and confidence) to go out and make their first feature film, The Puffy Chair. The film was made on a measly $15,000 budget and was eventually grouped into an emerging voice among filmmakers known as “mumblecore.” The Puffy Chair played the indie circuit that year and landed them on the radar of Netflix’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos. Netflix, which was still in its infant years of acquiring original content, formed a relationship with up-and-coming filmmakers like the Duplass Brothers, giving them a platform to be seen and the chance to develop an audience that could support them.

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The Art of Boredom

This past weekend, my roommates left town and my girlfriend was busy working. The sky was overcast (perfect light!) and I was slowly sinking into boredom. So, I dug out my Canon T2i camera and thought about what I could shoot. But I wasn’t getting anywhere fast.

Suddenly, I remembered a tip that Michael and I often times recommend young filmmakers but had forgotten to implement myself…

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The Benefits of Video Storyboarding

Before production on our latest short film, “The Get Together”, Michael and I created our very first “video storyboard” to help us prepare for the shoot. We’d never done anything like it before, but the process of creating it was so instrumental to the success of our film that we thought we’d share some of the benefits of creating one.

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Scary Good! The 5 Types of Horror Films

I don’t like scary movies. I love scary movies. I love the ridiculous situations in them, the larger than life villains, and the heart pumping moments where I’m on the edge of my seat covering my eyes. And I totally get why that’s weird. It’s weird to want to be scared. But the adrenaline rush is part of the reason why the horror genre has such a wide range of sub-categories. There are just so many ways to be scared.

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5 Filmmaking Websites I Check (Almost) Every Day

If you’re anything like me, you’ve got an exhaustive list of bookmarks in your web browser that you catch yourself clicking on in between thoughts at work. Maybe it’s Facebook or Slack. Maybe it’s Clickhole or your Pinterest board (I 1000% don’t have a Pinterest board so don’t look. I really hope you don’t look.) The point is, we all have go-to resources that keep us up to date on news, politics, and entertainment. But, do you have any web resources that, as a filmmaker, you check daily to add value to your career?

There are a lot of helpful websites I check from time to time, but there are only five I consider staple.

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5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Becoming A Professional “Artist”

There is a certain amount of delusion that we buy into as artists. Something inside of us believes that all of the blood, sweat, and tears we put into our craft will one day, somehow, make a difference.

To thrive in this industry, you have to buy into that belief. But, blind faith will only get you so far. Every professional artist knows that nothing comes easy, money gets tight, and most days you catch yourself wondering if anyone really cares.

After completing my first feature film, I wrote down 5 questions that I felt could equip anyone ready to take the plunge into a creative career. These questions are meant to prepare you. It takes a significant amount of resolve to be an artist, and when you reach the day that the process gets messy and you’re up to your eyeballs in stress, you can remind yourself that it wasn’t all a delusion that got you here in the first place.

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6 Leadership Lessons From Directing My First Movie

Note: Behind the scenes video at the end of this post.

There is something about stepping into a new job that is equal parts terrifying and exhilarating. At the tender age of twenty-five I had the opportunity to direct my first feature film and responded by googling every insecure question I had about the movie business. Then I panicked.

I think anyone can relate to the feeling of being overwhelmed by uncertainty. You’ve finally made the jump toward your dream and now you’re looking around realizing you may have to fake it for a while. I decided to list out some advice that I clumsily learned along the bumpy road toward Hollywood filmmaking. This advice is not exclusive to filmmakers, it’s just the corner of the world I’m coming from. I hope you enjoy it.

Small Decisions, Big Consequences

On a movie set, the director is expected to make hundreds of decisions at a moment’s notice.

  • “What should he wear?”
  • “How do you want her hair?”
  • “Which direction is he walking in from?”
  • “How do we shut off these sprinklers!?!”

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Writer’s Block: How One Song Saved Our Film Careers

In the fall of 2010, Michael Allen and I began writing our first screenplay, Believe Me. It was our first narrative project to write together, and naturally we had some growing pains to deal with. We would meet at a bar called Spiderhouse near the University of Texas and delve through ideas, trying to get on the same page. We had a general idea of the direction we wanted to go, but the tone and the attitude of the film was still up in the air.

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