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Friday 29 June 2012

EMILY BLUNT / JASON SEGEL / MARK & JAY DUPLASS / LYNN SHELTON: The Modern Formula For Making Great Movies

Mark and Jay Duplass make fantastic, extremely low-budget movies.

Mark Duplass is also a great actor.

Emily Blunt and Jason Segel are movie stars. But they don't just turn up for the pay cheque, they're committed to doing great work. They've both been known to turn down jobs that would have given them more money.

The Duplass brothers need stars like Segel and Blunt. And the stars want to work with the Duplass brothers, because they know they'll get to do their best acting. 

The first movie that the Duplass brothers made was "THE PUFFY CHAIR", which they shot for only $15,000. It was a big hit at film festivals and got everyone paying attention to them. Actually, they made another movie before that but locked it away in the vault because it was so bad. I tell you this just to remind you not to worry about your own atrocious projects, it happens to everyone. Anyway; Mark Duplass starred in  "THE PUFFY CHAIR", and he was great.

But Duplass is not a movie star. So to get funded by the studios, they need bigger names. That's how they made 'CYRUS', because Jonah Hill and John C. Reilly wanted to work with with them.

This year, the Duplass brothers released "JEFF WHO LIVES AT HOME". They got the funding because Jason Segel and Ed Helms wanted to work with them. Why? Because the quality of their work is so good. Big actors crave it.

Mark Duplass didn't act in that film but he did act in 'YOUR SISTER'S SISTER', which he also executive produced. It was written and directed by the very talented Lynn Shelton. But how did the film get in cinemas? Because Emily Blunt starred in it. That's why it's faring much better than Shelton's previous film 'HUMPDAY' (which also stars Duplass), because it has a recognisable names in it.

Emily Blunt is having a great year - and with her recent roles, you really feel like you're getting to know her. 'YOUR SISTER'S SISTER' is a wonderfully subtle and engaging film --one of my favourites of the year. Blunt also put in a great performance in 'Salmon Fishing In Yemen', alongside Ewan MacGregor (who is another actor who craves the great material rather than the fame).

'THE FIVE-YEAR ENGAGEMENT' is a film that stars Emily Blunt and Jason Segel. Is it any good? It's okay. Segel co-wrote the script (as he did on 'FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL' and 'GET HIM TO THE GREEK'). The movie is fun, and it's doing okay at the box-office. It's watchable, mostly because of the two lead actors - they're very endearing and loveable. Yet despite the big-budget and broad comedy stylings:

They do their best work elsewhere.

And their best work this year has involved the Duplasses.

Mark & Jay Duplass make movies very cheaply. They trade the bigger budgets for smaller ones where they can have more creative control. Actors want to work with them -- it's the same as how it has worked with Woody Allen all these years. The films are done so cheaply that it's almost impossible for them to fail financially. If the flicks are good, word of mouth will get people seeing them. And even if they suck, the names will carry enough star-power to bump up DVD sales.

This is how it works in the modern era. You can desperately try to get on the Hollywood ladder, but you'll probably get chewed up. And even if you make it, your films will be bland, just like all the others.

The Duplass Brothers are doing it their own way. So is Lynn Shelton. They've gotten so good at what they do, that the stars are desperate to work with them. Where else would Susan Sarandon get to do as great a role as she did in 'JEFF WHO LIVES AT HOME'? And who else would bring the subtlety out of Ed Helms that that the Duplass' bros did?

The ones who stay true to themselves and actually have something to say are succeeding. That's why 'LOUIE', created by Louis CK, is such a great show. Same goes for 'GIRLS', created by Lena Dunham. The people who stay true to themselves are creating the most interesting work. And the good part is -- this will sustain them for the rest of their careers. Because what they're creating is INTERESTING! And their fanbase is only going in one direction - up! Same goes for Segel and Blunt, we're interested! We're along for the ride, because they're all about the great work. 

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