My Favorite Mistake: Mark Duplass

Article excerpt

The writer-director-actor on ripping off Rocky.

In the late '90s, when I was 19 and my brother, Jay, was 22, we thought we were hot shit because we had made a couple hundred thousand dollars filming a bad corporate documentary for a now defunct Fortune 500 company. I remember saying, "Holy shit, we've never seen this much money."

So then we decided to be the next Richard Linklater or Robert Rodriguez and go make the next great independent film. With our editing partner Jay Deuby, we wrote a movie called Vince Del Rio. It was about a runner from South Texas who makes his way through trials and tribulations to achieve sporting glory. In hindsight, it was a rip-off of Rocky.

We blew everything we had making this film. And it was terrible. There was nothing we could do. We made a pile of steaming elephant dung.

Depressed, we moved into a little apartment together in south Austin and proceeded to watch movies and be jealous of all of our favorite filmmakers and wonder why we sucked and wasted our lives trying to become filmmakers.

One day as we were sitting on our dilapidated couch, watching Fargo, and wondering why we couldn't be as cool as the Coen brothers, we realized something--we were trying to be like other filmmakers. We were completely denying our own instincts. And we realized we're actually kind of funny people at parties and in conversations. Why did we try to make an overly serious sports movie that we knew nothing about?

I looked at Jay and said, "We need to make a movie like we did when were little. …