HIFF Directors Interview: The Duplass Brothers

Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass in East Hampton At The Maidstone
Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass in East Hampton At The Maidstone

The opening night film that played at Guild Hall for the Hamptons International Film Festival was Jeff Who Lives At Home starring the hilarious Jason Segel, Ed Helms and Judy Greer.

The two men behind the film are Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass, a pair of brothers who are very talented, having both written and directed the film together.

I sat down with them at The Living Room Restaurant at the Maidstone in East Hampton and was immediately charmed by them. Their movie is absolutely fabulous, and to enjoy the opening night honor at Guild Hall is just another big accomplishment in their impressive and artistic career.

Jeff Who Lives at Home is about a grown man (Jason Segel) who lives in his parents’ basement and is dispatched from his room on an errand for his mother. During the errand, slacker Jeff might discover his destiny (finally) when he spends the day with his brother as he tracks his possibly adulterous wife.

The entire movie has a bit of that quirky Sideways feel to it and was well received by the Hamptons International Film Festival Audience. The movie is also quite timely, as there are certainly a lot of people in this economy who are stuck living at home in the same house as their parents, but according to the brothers, they came up with the idea for them film roughly 7 years ago.

Jay: We came up with the concept when the economy was doing good, actually, and didn’t find the funding for it until much later, and the economy certainly hadn’t gone up since then. Go figure.

Me: How are you liking the Film Festival so far?

Jay: We are loving the Film Festival out here so far, and we don’t mind the rain, either. Living in Los Angeles, we never get to see too much rain, so it’s actually kind of nice (laughs). We are here just for a short time, but we’re loving the greenery and the nature.

Mark: We went on a four-mile run through the village yesterday, and that was just really awesome. We liked to peak through the hedges and see all of the beautiful houses out here. It really is amazing. We love paying attention to how people live in other places, that’s kind of what our movies are about—interesting things about people and where they live and what they do and how they interact with their surroundings. I’d say the Hamptons is a very fertile ground for where a movie idea could come from.

Me: Tell me about Jeff, Who Lives At Home.

Jay:  For us, we love following around people who’s lives, well, for lack of a better word, suck. While most people start that out as a tragedy or a drama, we find the comedy in it, and we love finding people whose lives are a struggle but then somewhere in their story, they find these moments that are just absolutely incredible and really inspiring. Jeff, Who Lives At Home is about a day in the life of a guy who lives in his parents’ basement, and we focus on the humor and also the tragedy of that, but also about how inspiring the struggle can be and how amazing his connections with others develop and blossom.

Me: I have a brother. I’d imagine it must be tough working together. Do you guys get along for the most part while you work?

Mark: Oh yeah, definitely, we both see the big picture in what we’re doing. And when your making movies you have to have some semblance of kinship, so it helps, actually. We work really well together—the key for us is that we are both very respectful of each others work and also stay keenly aware of each others ideas. When we argue, which is pretty rare, it’s usually because one of us hasn’t had our coffee yet (laughs).

Me: Have you guys had time to check out the Hamptons?

Mark: We were really impressed with Guild Hall—that place is beautiful.

Jay: Yeah, it really is a great spot to show a movie. Film festivals are great because you get to show films that aren’t in your standard movie theaters sometimes, and Guild Hall really was a special place for a screening. It was great to be up there in the balcony and to feel like you are in a place that is really historical.

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