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BAGHEAD

Other Notes On Baghead
Mark Duplass notes in the DVD extras for the first feature film The Puffy Chair that the main thing to focus on when you are making a film is storytelling. "It doesn't matter if you have $15,000 or $15 billion, just point the camera, get your friends together and make a movie.”

This is exactly what the characters in their latest film Baghead, about four actor friends who take matters into their own hands and hole themselves up in a Big Bear cabin to write a movie that will, of course, star them, seem to do through the magic of third person cinema.

The Duplass's use of naturalistic performances and improvisation to drive the story is reminiscent of the films of John Cassavetes filtered through the Lexapro® optimism of Mumblecore.

Like Casavetes, the Duplass bros. make great use of an actress (Greta Gerwig) who, like Gena Rowlands, will likely be thought of years from now as the face of this particular cinema movement.

However, while acknowledging the movement's influences on their work, the Duplass brothers also point out that a) their films tend to embrace genre a little more than those of the ‘Core and b) their characters don't mumble as much.

"Our first feature film, The Puffy Chair, had a certain aesthetic that made it similar to a lot of the films in the movement. The characters in that film were almost archetypical Mumblecore kids,” Jay Duplass says.

"We try to keep our narratives pretty tight,” adds Mark, who starred opposite Gerwig in the first act of Hannah Takes the Stairs (he only got a little naked).

"We hire actors, Greta included, who are smart and funny and sweet and know how to bring real things to the roles (and make us look like good writers, seriously). So, when the actors show up on set, we encourage them to re-say the lines we've written however they please. Our unofficial motto, basically, is ‘say whatever you want as long as it feels real.'”

And although Baghead can be said to skewer aspiring auteurs, the festival mill, and the very films themselves, the Duplass brothers clearly possess a deep vein of empathy for the culture and those who populate it, to the degree that they are willing to share their Mumblecore is primarily characterized by ultra-low budget production (often employing digital video cameras), a focus on personal relationships between twenty-somethings, improvised scripts, and nonprofessional actors. Other young filmmakers who are often considered core-mumblecorers are Andrew Bujalski (Funny Ha Ha), Aaron Katz (Quiet City), and Joe Swanberg (Hannah Takes the Stairs). darkest film festival moment when in 2003, when they "almost” posed as David Arquette and Tim Blake Nelson to get into a party at Sundance.

"We had a short there and found our access to the cool parties was a bit limited,” recalls Jay. "We waited outside this one party for forty minutes, preparing our characters, and then chickened out and went home. It was so lame.”

"We created the characters in Baghead because we know these people really well, too well,” concludes Mark. "A desperate actor is a strange, terrible, beautiful, funny, tragic thing. And, we ultimately love the people in Baghead, as screwed up as they are.”

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