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Snippet of Unlocking Us: Brené with Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass on The Power of Paradox

Last Played: January 25, 2021
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Paradox is simultaneously maddening and one of the most spiritually fulfilling concepts we have for capturing the complexity of human life. Listen as Brené interviews Mark & Jay Duplass. They are film-makers, writers, directors, producers, actors, and activists. They’re also partners, fathers, and brothers who believe in connection, love, and the importance of small moments. In this snippet, the three discuss the power of paradox and how the concept helps create indelible moments on camera.
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for me, it's the paradox. Yell are just paradoxical people. I mean, there was something that Katie said in one of the chapters on wives. So there's a chapter in the book where they ask questions of gin and Katie, their wives, and they answer, which is one of my favorite chapters. And Katie said, they're really complicated, supersensitive about feelings, but laugh at burp and fart jokes. They love Dumb and dumber and therapy equally. And so I started thinking, cause I'm a big union person. I think a lot about Carl Young and Network. And he wrote, That paradox is one of our most valued spiritually possessions. Because Onley paradox comes anywhere near the ability to comprehend the fullness of life. It's the natural medium for expressing trans conscious fax. The Union of Opposites is a trans conscious process and, in principle, not amenable to scientific explanation. I don't know of any filmmakers who consistently and honestly capture the paradoxical moments that you capture in a way that takes my breath away. I mean, I've hated both of you intensely, really intensely. Tell me about paradox. It's weird. I've never thought about it in those terms. J and I tend to be not super intellectual as we approach our art, we tend to be a little bit more visceral in intellectual. But when you were saying that what occurred to me is that Jay and I have talked a lot about this, um, inextricable team that he and I have been for four years and what that means and why we stayed so tight for so long and and how, actually, in some ways different, we are in our energetic responses to the world and how we operate and you know, not to be reductive. But I could be a little bit more forward and aggressive and try to be outwardly confident and on J can be a little more trepidatious and measured and smart and exacting at times. And and the thing that is occurring to me is that the Duplass brothers themselves that one unit thing is kind of the ultimate paradox. We are together operating and moving forward with two vastly different energies and styles, and then beyond that, inside of each of us, is also that natural human paradox. But I think we have learned to be comfortable in a union that has paradox because it suits us. And we, I think, deeply love each other for it and appreciated in the partnership case in point being. I really believe this. If I were left to my own devices as a filmmaker, I would make 15 to 20 terrible pieces of art each year. I really believe it. And I believe if Jay was left alone, he would make three quarters of the greatest movie ever made. And then he would die because he would not be able to finish it. And somehow together in the paradox of our of our things, we make it work and and so maybe that allows us to celebrate it in the subjects we portray or something in there. There's something here. I was just struck. I mean, because I do think individually, you're both very paradoxical people. E. I think your relationship is just the meta of that. But I do think and in that chapter on the wood, I'm going back to it because it was like, you have a theory that maybe it's because your parents were so different. And then maybe, yeah, one of your theories, your parents were so different, and maybe today because kids, you know, our parents were, you know, today people are getting married a lot later, and they're looking for more similarities. But here I have a different theory. Like, this is good. I wanna learn some shit about myself. Well, I don't know. It could be wrong. I could be just dead ass wrong. But I doubt it on this because just because I'm around young people, I teach a lot. I think there's something about individually and I don't want to talk about you. Always. One person, because I see you is very different people like I relate to you in some ways. But then I'm the oldest of four. And so during your hard conversations, I could really feel you j like I'm, like, punch. Um, um, yeah, I just first waters a lot, but my theory is there are very few people in the world today that have the tolerance for discomfort that you all have. Uh huh. And to be able to hold the tension of opposites. I mean, this is a very deeply spiritually union thing. Toe hold the tension of opposites without dropping either one of thumb. And to maintain that tension until something new is born to me describes your art. It describes your conversations when you're hiking like do you all know? Do you know J how you lean into hard stuff? Yeah, it's hell, but it is. I think that is right. I mean, it's interesting because it there is a conversation that we have with our actors. I mean, it's hard to even talk about it in relation to us. I'll start with us in our process with actors. So Mark and I, we did go toe all boys Jesuit High school. And we did learn Latin in place sports like a motherfucker. You know, we did all those things and we grew up in a very male dominated. We we did all, but we're also incredibly sensitive. And so we have this other side that we've been exploring deeper and deeper and deeper as we go into the art world. And, ah, lot of people. I think when they come to our sets, we do present forward with jokes and lightness, and our wives think it's so funny that everybody thinks that we're so free wheeling and easy because we're the most complicated, difficult people toe live with on the planet. As far as they're concerned, way our way, our were nightmares. Okay, But we present otherwise we're good actors, and we're also trying to usher in a feeling of positivity, a feeling of like, Let's come do this Anything happened. But there does come a point where we have to tell our actors this looks really fun. But just so you know, the core of what we're creating and doing here is we're creating a realm of chaos where anything can happen in this moment and in order for your art to achieve the feeling that anything can happen in this moment, it has to be rial, so this is not controlled. You don't know what's going to happen to you. That person across from you may say or do anything, and we just want to warn you that you're going to be incredibly uncomfortable throughout this process. And the more that you can embrace that, the better this is going to go because we feel like it's very important for you to feel like not only that you can fall on your face, but that you must fall on your face and we want that and we want that and we need that. And we're not going to do it in a like you're going to be safe in this environment is gonna be safe, and you're going to know that we have your back and we're good artists and you're gonna look good and things are gonna happen. But it's gonna be held on some level and what we're looking for, that is what we're looking. That's the key is that we? It's not that we enjoy it, But But if you're watching us on set, when things come to a bit of a detente and a bit of a confusion with characters, that is when we light up. And that is when we get excited, Yeah, that that moment where you're like, I don't know what's happening here, but I'm super excited and super terrified, and we're not going to do what almost everyone does, which is trying to control it. We're going to release the control, and we're gonna go into this moment, and that, I think, is the core of our art. If the way that Mark and I have talked about it with each other is this idea that anything can really happen in this moment and the transmission like audiences, they're not gonna be able articulate that necessarily. You were doing it. It's rare that someone will even say that. But they feel it. They know when something is really when a moment isn't true. You know, true, true, and that is palpable. And you get chills when you're feeling it. And that's and honestly we failed for so long in making our art. The only way we know how to make powerful art is to create an environment where something really is going to happen, and that's how we view it. And that has been not just a container of making the art, but the container of operating it would, it requires, is a full scale throttle back of your ego, that whole concept that filmmakers are our tours and that they have decided something in a room three years ago, and they're gonna execute it and force these human beings into this box. Some people, by the way, do that. Some people do that. The brothers do it great and I don't understand. We don't know how to do that. We know we tried to be the Coen brothers, we failed. This is what we have to offer is like we can create a safe space where people can have a real moment. And so the way that we articulated even toe actors is we're not trying to execute the script. We want you to say and do whatever you feel moved to do to accomplish your goals. And what we're trying to do is allow lightning to strike in the space and then for the camera to be rolling when it happens. And then we'll just reorient the story continually around that. And let me tell you, we've had some actors who are not okay with it, and they have crumbled. We've had to be more clear at the front of our process now and say, You know, we just want you to know that, like, if you're not genuinely excited to do this, it's probably not gonna be that fun for you. And we might not wanna do this together, you know, if it doesn't sound good, because if you think this is God and from here we will go forth and we will never alter a thing. We should just wait a different thing It's a different thing. And let me tell you, it's a different thing and it it jumps off the screen and grabs you by the throat. That's great. That's so sweet. E. It's not. It's sweet, but it's also jacked up a little bit. It is, I mean, sweet that you feel that so deeply. It feels very I guess, what I want to say. It feels very good to be so understood. And you, you speak so clearly you're very eloquent about it, and we don't often face that. So it's nice to hear is what I meant to say. Well, here's a quote that again she's like, Are you having a conversation with him? Are you studying them? I'm like both, uh
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