In Mark and Jay Duplass’ just-published book Like Brothers, the sibling actor-filmmakers offer a collection of essays about making it in show business that they hope readers will find “entertaining, funny, and (ideally) a bit useful.” Here are five pearls of wisdom we gleaned from the tome.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO FAIL
The Duplass brothers’ professional high points include writing and directing the 2010 Jonah Hill comedy-drama Cyrus and their recurring roles as midwives on The Mindy Project. But, as they reveal in Like Brothers, the pair’s professional path has been littered with less successful experiments, like the Mark-penned song “Everybody’s Laughing,” about a lesbian who has sex with a ghost of herself. “This song, written by a straight white fourteen-year-old male, is quite insufferable in many ways,” admits its author in the book. The pair also once wrote, and then abandoned, a film script titled Boobs in the Night.
FIND LIKE-MINDED COLLABORATORS
The brothers gladly admit that they rely on help and advice from a large group of collaborators. “In our opinion, if you hear a consistent note or complaint about your script and ignore it, you are likely headed for heartbreak,” the pair write. “You are likely ignoring something you missed and that could quite possibly sink your movie. All because you are afraid to admit you don’t know everything about making movies? Who the f— does? Okay, fine, the Coen Brothers. But still. Who else?”
Of course, Mark and Jay’s most like-minded collaborators have always been each other. Indeed, in the book, the pair come across as remarkably close, even for siblings, and admit they preferred to share a bed during their teenage years and even into adulthood, though they concede doing so was “utterly strange.”
BUY A HOUSE AND INVEST IN THE STOCK MARKET
Are you a young, struggling artist? The brothers’ advice is to move somewhere very cheap, buy a house, and pay for the mortgage by renting out rooms to fellow creative types. “We have lived in houses with up to five people at a time, and it was invaluable to our developmental and creative process,” they write. “Yes, the bathroom was nasty and the kitchen was roach-heavy but it was worth it.”
The pair also recommend that showbiz hopefuls “set aside a month where you don’t go out to eat” and use the savings to invest in young, cheap stocks of companies with which they are familiar. “In 2002 we were renting DVDs from a new mail order business called Netflix,” write the brothers. “We bought a slew of shares in 2005 when they were only $20 a piece. That purchase single-handedly funded one of our smaller films with its profits.”
THE CAVALRY ISN’T COMING
The brothers’ big advice on breaking into the film industry? Create your own low-budget projects — like the pair’s made-for-$3 short film This Is John, which screened at Sundance — rather than hoping your first screenplay will sell for $1 million. “The truth is, that s— never happens,” they write. “Okay maybe once in a super-rare while. But it didn’t happen to us. And it probably won’t happen to you. So, forget about that. That is the cavalry. And the cavalry isn’t coming.”
ALWAYS TAKE THE FREE ENERGY BAR
The brothers recommend trying to get your movie screened at every film festival possible, but also remind readers that attending those events can be expensive. “Sometimes they pay to fly you there, sometimes they don’t,” the pair write. “Save money for flights. Most likely the festival will hook you up with a free place to stay and free food while you’re there. But just to be safe, also try to walk away with a [ton] of energy bars from a festival sponsor.”
Watch the trailer for Like Brothers above, and check out the cover below.