Though Mark Duplass was only a toddler when the Sundance Film Festival first opened in 1978, it still somehow feels like the event was designed for him.
The now-37-year-old actor, director, and producer first visited the Park City-set festival in 2003 with a short film called This Is John. Then, he made a big splash at the 2005 fest with his feature debut The Puffy Chair (co-directed by his brother and creative partner, Jay). And later this week, he’ll head to the premier gathering of independent filmmakers for the 11th straight year with two new comedies in tow: The One I Love, which Duplass produced and stars in, and the Kristen Wiig–Bill Hader vehicle The Skeleton Twins, which he executive produced.
The One I Love is a relationship dramedy with an unexpected twist, the product of both Duplass’ desire to move in a new creative direction and his determination to work with both director Charlie McDowell and recent Golden Globe winner Elisabeth Moss.
While McDowell gained fame as the author of the hit Twitter account and book of essays Dear Girls Above Me, he did attend film school, so making the move to director was the logical career progression for the son of Malcolm McDowell and Mary Steenburgen. Duplass first sent McDowell an email with a vague idea for a film that they could make together, planting the seed for The One I Love.
“I’ve become a total hack producer at this point,” Duplass joked. “Remember the scene in Barton Fink when they bring him out from New York for the pitch meeting and he’s like, ‘I want something with that Barton Fink feeling in it’? That was basically my pitch, like, ‘Gimme that Charlie stuff!’”
Duplass had also been looking to work with Moss, who he first met at Sundance several years prior to filming The One I Love.
“We just kind of connected, had similar sensibilities, and [were] artistically fans of each other. But also, we’d go get pizza and we just got each other,” Moss remembered. “It was kind of cool.”
“It’s a big deal when you meet somebody who makes cool stuff and you realize, Oh, we can do shitty pizza and beer together too?” Duplass added. “That to me, when you can do foreign films and fart jokes with the same person, that’s crucial.”
And since few can rival Duplass’ success at Sundance, visiting filmmakers and movie fans alike should probably take note of the tips he’s offered up to BuzzFeed in order to make the most of a trip to Sundance — as well as these exclusive photos from The One I Love.
3. “If you’re trying to network, you’re being a douchebag.”
For filmmakers: “Try to avoid the parties that seem network-y and try to just go to the filmmaker hangouts. Those are the best, because you’ll make the friends and co-collaborators that you’ll be working for years to come at your first festival. The people I met at the first few Sundances, I’m still friends with and still making stuff with. My brother said it so well one year. He was like, ‘If you’re trying to hang out with your friends and have a good time at Sundance, you’re networking; if you’re trying to network, you’re being a douchebag.’”
4. “See the weird stuff.”
For visitors: “Go see all the weird documentaries and shorts that won’t get distribution. It’s always exciting to go see these big titles that are going to ultimately get bought by Fox Searchlight for $10 million, but you’ll see those in the movie theater next year. Go see the weird ones that might not get distribution.”
5. “Look at Sundance as a sustainable way of making a career.”
For filmmakers: “A lot of people view Sundance as a place that you want to go to once, and then get your movie bought, and then you can enter the Hollywood system, and it’s kind of like a one-time thing. But I encourage people to look at Sundance as a sustainable way of making a career and making a living and a continued way of making movies. The studio realm is there to expand upon the places you already live, and Sundance is there to blast you out in a new way. Go there and go there to stay and keep making movies there because it’s a totally sustainable place now.”
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