Speaking of Mark Duplass, he and his brother Jay have even more wisdom to impart, this time explicitly about TV:
by Ben Travers
The Duplass brothers were doing more than fine working in the indie film world, so what was it that pushed them to create the delightful and deep HBO series “Togetherness”?
The first real question I have for you guys is, and I know it sounds simple, but why did you decide to do TV now? What made you make the leap from film?
Mark: It really wasn’t a conscious decision, per say, to move from film to television. It sort of started with the genesis of this story. We wanted to make a more deeply personal project. Just as “The Puffy Chair” was very personal to us in our 20s, “Togetherness” is the same way for us in our 30s. Once we started hatching the story it just got big, and it felt like something that could keep going and something that we didn’t want to define to the 90-minute form. We had this long-standing friendship with HBO, and we were thinking about doing a show with them, but we were nervous that it might suck up our whole lives. But they were like, “Come do eight episodes with us. It’ll take you half a year and you can do what you want. We’ll support you and we’ll give you lots of money to do it and we’ll put billboards all over town for you.” And it turned out to be true, which is rare. We’re very happy we have made the move.
What is it about this concept specifically that made you feel you needed the extra time?
Jay: Mostly just that we are similar to these characters or in a similar life place. We created it in our late 30s, and we have young children and we’re getting our asses handed to us when it comes to balancing parenthood and following our own dreams and being good spouses and good friends. Everyone around us is that situation, too, including those who did not have families or hadn’t gotten traction. But everyone seemed to be getting a little desperate, so all the material kept flooding in. All these funny stories of a grown man being brought to his knees by a 12-pound infant, just day after day after day. And in the typical way that me and Mark do, we kept sharing these stories and cringing about them and giggling about them quite a bit. We felt like it was the kind of story that just went on and on and on, and we also felt there were a lot of subtle things to communicate here in the long form of serial television storytelling. We felt it was the right way to do it.
The basic concept for “Togetherness” doesn’t make for the easiest elevator pitch. How did you sell it to HBO, and is that the same way you’d sell it to your target audience?