Thursday, August 21, 2008

For the
Price of

A Chat with Mark and Jay Duplass (click here for part four)

“Well-made and genuine, yet also simplistic and unre-
markable. That is just what its makers intended it to be."
-- Neil Morris,
Indy Week

Here's a continuation of the interview Prost Amerika's Steve
Clare and I conducted with writer/directors Mark and Jay
Duplass at this year’s Seattle International Film Festival.

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Kathy: I have a question about time and not budget. What
were the lengths of the shoots for The Puffy Chair, Baghead,
and The Do-Deca-Pentathlon? How did they compare?

Mark: Puffy Chair was a three-week shoot initially, and then
we did a week of re-shoots and some road footage. And then
Baghead was straight three weeks—a little easier to shoot.

Kathy: That sounds really short.

Jay: Baghead was three weeks, no days off, re-
shooting consistently for all that time. To me
that was the issue. We did so much work.

Mark: And Do-Deca was four and a half weeks. A little more time.

Kathy: For you guys that was almost leisurely. I just interviewed David Gordon Green, and that was a question I asked him, as well.

Mark: I love that guy.

Kathy: He’s great. I think George Washington was
between 19 and 21 days or something like that, but
for Snow Angels, he had 45 days, which to him was
incredible. I’m curious as to how these things com-
pare. In comparison, 21 days seems so short.

Mark: We could definitely use some more time. We have a small crew—days are not that expensive—so we’re definitely expanding a little more.

Left: Green with Paul Schneider

Kathy: Do you work weekends, too?

Mark: We work six-day weeks.

Kathy: Green said he works five-day weeks.

Jay: Five days would be incredible, because you know
what’s gonna happen is you work five days and then
one of those weekend days, you have to do re-con.

Mark: Or re-shoots or something on your one
day off. We’re really working seven days a week,
because our day off is for prepping and stuff.

Jay: Our crew gets one day off, but we don’t, but having four
and a half weeks on this last one made a huge difference.

Mark: It’s a bit of a bigger movie. There are more set changes.

Kathy: And it’s through Sony?

Mark: No, we did this all independently.

Steve: What’s next in terms of timeline? This festival
ends, and then it opens in which towns on what dates?

Mark: Baghead starts June 13th in Austin;
then on July 4th, I know it goes to Portland.

Jay: And on July 18th, it’s here. Then it goes to New York and LA after what we consider to be our special cities, the places we want to take it.

Right: Steve Zissis, Elise
Muller, and Greta Gerwig.

[After this interview Sony moved the Seattle opening to 8/8.]

Steve: We hear you. Make no mistake, as representatives
of the Seattle film industry, you’re preaching to us, because
we like the idea of being the capitol of the independents…

Kathy: But there are still people in Seattle who
need that New York or LA stamp of approval,
and those people are everywhere you go.

Mark: Hopefully, this Baghead thing will work out.

Steve: Well, once we’ve run this interview, they’ll be queu-
ing around the block. All we have to do in Seattle is say these
are nice guys, and they’re not spoiled, and people feel a bond,
because everyone likes to think of themselves as nice people.

Mark: That’s good. We work really hard to present our-
selves as not conceited assholes…that we are. [laughs]

Steve: Which reminds me. On that point, during the ques-
tion-and-answer last night, you called somebody an asshole.
I wanted you to make me a promise that every time you
come back to Seattle, you’ll call somebody an asshole.

Mark: You got it [laughs]

Steve: Even if it’s me.

Kathy: Who did you call an asshole?

Mark: Someone who asked what the budget was.

[Baghead takes to task people who ask this question at festivals.]

Steve: I actually like that he called someone an ass-
hole. So often when stars come up, the questions are
sycophantic and the answers are sycophantic.

Jay: That’s our thing. Q&As can be horrid, but if you
just let it go, and go with how horrid... It’s like what
we were talking about, just trying to keep it fresh.
Don’t feel like you need to give an obvious answer;
give up what’s coming to you at that moment.
That’s something people usually enjoy.

Mark: It’s better than: DVX100AP.

Steve: This is one of the
things—I can’t speak for
Kathy—but I know when
I do an interview, I always
try to imagine how many
interviews you’ve done,
and what you’re sick
of talking about.

Above: Gerwig, Zissis, Ross Partridge, and Muller

Mark: I appreciate that.

Kathy: I try to read as many interviews as I
can beforehand, but you only have so much time.

Jay: You can’t read everything.

Mark: You guys are great

Jay: Yeah, this is a great interview.

Steve: Well, thank you.

Kathy: It probably helps that I saw Baghead a
long time ago, so I’ve had time to think about it.

Steve: I saw it last night, so I’ve not had time to think about it.
Because I end up reviewing so many—as I’m reviewing films, there
has to be a level playing field—unlike Kathy, I never read anything
about a film beforehand… The whole thing was new to me.

Kathy: But reviewers have been pretty good about
not giving the film away. I didn’t know how it was
going to end either, and I liked not knowing.

Jay: That’s one of the most exciting things to us about
the film: the process of discovery. Not only about
what’s going on, but what the movie actually is.

Click here for part six

Endnote: For the record, I disagree with Neil Morris
that Baghead is "unremarkable," but I appreciate what
he's getting at in the quote above. The film doesn't draw
any undue attention to itself, i.e. it isn't flashy or tren-
dy, but that's kind of remarkable in this day and age.

There are no more Seattle screenings, but Baghead con-
tinues to expand across the US. Please click here for a list of
release dates. Images from Sony Classics and Movie Habit.

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