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.
In 2015, Mark Duplass was asked to be the keynote speaker at South By Southwest in Austin, TX. He discussed the migration of filmmakers to television and the emergence of VOD, including its impact on micro-budget films. Duplass delivered eight pieces of advice for those who want to start a career in filmmaking and spoke on the changing models of film and television distribution/production, how those changes affect those in the independent sphere, and why carving out your particular corner of the sandbox is going to be the key to maintaining creative control in the future.
Check out his speech below. It almost serves as a weird motivational poster for us.