Filmmakers Mark and Jay Duplass will be the first to admit they were making some pretty bad movies at the beginning of their careers.
But with the success of their short film “The Puffy Chair” in 2005, the duo have been launched into cult status and are now in the middle of introducing their most accessible film to date.
In “Baghead,” the Duplasses tell the story of four small-time actors who stay at a cabin for the weekend where they plan to write a script for a movie. When they finally start to write a screenplay about a killer who wears a paper bag on his head, the foursome begins to see strange things in the woods and wonder if they have actually written themselves into their own horror movie.
During a phone interview with me, the Brothers Duplass talked about their new film and what it is like to be an independent filmmaker trying to get noticed in the ever-changing independent film industry.
While making “Baghead,” you must be getting worried when films like “The Orphanage” and “The Strangers” (two movies where characters also have bags over their heads) start hitting theaters before “Baghead” has wrapped.
Mark Duplass: Yeah, we quickly realized that as brilliant as we think we are, we’re not the first to come up with the concept of putting a bag over your head. We thought that might help our movie because they certainly are very different. It’s a different version of the-bag-on-the-head-thing that will make it fresh.
As independent filmmakers, do you think anyone with a good idea for a movie can simply pick up a camera and become famous?
MD: We don’t think so because we certainly don’t feel like we were overnight successes. It’s our opinion that it took us about 10 years to make anything worth watching. The overnight successes people talk about are cancelled by the pile of bad shit in their closet that they haven’t shown anyone. While we would love to support that notion of “pick up a camera, get together with your friends, and make a movie,” but we don’t believe in.
Have you run into filmmakers like “Baghead” characters Matt and Chad – two guys who talk a big game but don’t deliver?
Jay Duplass: Absolutely. The first two people we ran across were ourselves. We were totally desperate. We’ve spent a lot of time in the independent film circuit with desperate filmmakers and desperate actors. They’re a group of annoying people, but it didn’t take long for us to fall in love with them.
Do you think any independent filmmakers will take offense to some of the things you say about indie filmmakers overall?
MD: We’re not trying to make a statement about filmmakers or anything like that. First and foremost, it’s a way to poke fun at ourselves. “Baghead” is not a satire of other filmmakers or a statement to say, “Go finish your movie!” We know this impulse of trying to be famous and how funny and desperate the situation can be once you put it under a microscope.
What do you think about how the indie film scene has been changing over the years? It used to be that you could make an indie film for a few thousand dollars. I don’t think you can do that anymore when films like “Ocean’s 13” are premiering at Cannes.
JD: That definitely a concern in general. But we really can’t control it so thinking about it and obsessing about it doesn’t really help the cause. The only thing we can do in the end is make the best possible movie we can make and hopefully we won’t get edged out. We’re pretty confident that if we make a good movie, it will get out into the world. That the big lesson we’ve learned. That’s what we want to tell all independent filmmakers out there: make a good movie and the rest will follow.