“As our guest, take one copy on your way out,” Mark Duplass instructs me, waving his hand at a coffee table strewn with a collection of worn video cassette tape boxes showcasing a range of classic titles titles from the ’80s and ’90’s. “But do that last because you really don’t want us to know these secrets about you before we start talking.”
He grins and plops down on a sofa next to his brother and collaborator, Jay, who’s best known for his role as a Josh Pfefferman, the repentant Lothario on Transparent. I’m meeting with the siblings in the loft space of the rambling, nineteenth-century craftsman home in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles that is HQ to all things Duplass. The house dates back to 1887, when suffragettes moved in, and today still has a distinctly vintage vibe–albeit one that’s been updated with more contemporary nostalgic touches like midcentury modern chairs and VHS tapes. It is here that the New Orleans natives, who made their quirky debut with the 2005 film The Puffy Chair, churn out their numerous film and TV projects, which include films like Blue Jay, a black-and-white romantic drama starring Mark and Sarah Paulson, for Netflix; and the HBO shows Togetherness, about hipsters confronting middle age (it ran for two seasons); and their latest Room 104, an anthology series that takes place in a single motel room. The historic, three-story house, which has been carved up into editing bays and rehearsal spaces, is also now the de facto office for Donut, the digital and branded content shop that the Duplass’ recently announced with ad veterans Charlie Leahy and Nigel Lopez-McBean. The amiable British duo, who are seated across from the Duplass’ when we meet, is best known for their work on the Cannes Lion-winning spots featuring Ricky Gervais as a slacker pitchman for Optus, the telecoms company that introduced Netflix to Australia.